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Assess the significance of the Gods in Homer's Iliad and Odyssey

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  • Essay length: 3604 words
  • Submitted: 16/03/2005
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AS and A Level Classics

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Assess the significance of the Gods in Homer's Iliad and Odyssey

It is the gods, not fate, who are concerned with the activities of human life in both the ">Odyssey<-" and the ">Iliad<-". The human action is so central that it quite absorbs the gods, as though they had no other responsibilities.

We get a sense of this divine participation from the very beginning of the " Iliad "Hera prompts Achilles to call the assembly (1.54); Athene checks his resolve to attack Agamemnon (1.188ff.); Zeus sends to Agamemnon a dream bidding him rally the Achaeans (2.16); Athene prompts Odysseus to prevent them from boarding the ships (2.182ff.); she silences the army to let him speak (2.281); Aphrodite drives Helen to Paris (3.420). Most notable throughout the poem is a hero's might increased by a god (4.439, 4.515, 5.1-2, 5.122, 5.125, etc.).

In all these cases, the god achieves nothing supernatural but simply stimulates existing potentialities. It could not be otherwise. Human acts or states of being so stand out in their native quality that no external agency is allowed to affect their true nature. Yet a man's fierce resilience may be quite baffling and may suggest

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