Last night I went to this local Greek restaurant, and they served us so much Greek food and wine that I’m pretty sure I was speaking in verse by the end and quoting the Iliad 😉 so I decided to blog about it!
The Iliad –Homer (683)
Rating: ★★★★★ // I love it deep down in my bones.
Favorite Line: Any moment might be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we’re doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again.
The Iliad is perhaps the oldest piece of literature in the world, passed down from generation to generation, translated into hundreds of languages, and dated back to somewhere between 1260-1180 BC. There are many reasons why it has stood the test of time. It is a poem of epic proportions, bringing the mythical world and the natural world into one fantastic war. It gave us characters that now hold their own power, known outside of the story for their immortal qualities.
Two events many people associate with The Iliad are the famous shot to the heel that killed Achilles, and the Trojan Horse. Unfortunately, if you were able to go back in time and ask Homer what The Iliad was about, neither of those events would appear in his answer. Both the death of Achilles and the overthrow of the city of Troy happen after the end of the poem and we only know about them thanks to the Homer’s follow-up epic poem The Odyssey.
The Iliad is about the Trojan War, but it only really covers the final year of the ten-year war. Furthermore, it includes not one, but three different “wars” which last throughout the narrative. The first being the primary conflict between The Trojans and the Greeks, the second being the conflict between Achilles, the Grecian hero, and Agamemnon, the Grecian king who leads the armies against the Trojans, and the third being the battle between the mythological gods, which influences the mortal battle.
The first war I mentioned is the primary reason for the story. The Greeks go to Troy to take back their stolen princess (who wanted to leave, alledegidly, because her husband is a crazy person), but the war turns into a much bigger quest than just that, and we see the greed and pride take over the hearts of men, and any virtuous reason for enagaging in war was lost in the end.
The second war, between Achilles and Agamemnon, shows how deep ones pride can pierce the soul, and how this pride can take over your entire being until it guides and twists all your thoughts and emotions. The pride of these men costs the lives of thousands, and it probably made the war last 9 years more than it should have.
The third war is the hardest for us to understand because it is supernatural war, and we no longer view the “gods” the way they did in the ancient world. This war, however is just as important as the other two. The gods take sides in the war and are constantly aiding their side and sabotaging the other. I think this is a fun side of the poem because to think of the mighty Mythology gods basically using the Greeks and Trojans as toy soldiers is an amusing idea. However this part of the story also shows the impact we all have on each other. In this world, the humans and the gods are so close, they both feel the affects of the other ones actions, and so the gods feel they must interfere and the people feel they must sacrifice to the gods in order for peace to return. We all rely on each other for peace to reign and chaos to subside.
Homer’s ability to compose a poem that has withstood the test for thousands of years is beyond extraordinary. This story covers themes all men can relate to, not just those living in the time of Homer. Themes of love, friendship, mortality, pride, and bravery are portrayed throughout with the same value and influence as they do today.
There is no point further critiquing this epic-poem because it has proven its right to be the classic of classics, so I’m just going to leave you with one of my favorite quotes that just proves that even in the time of Homer, long before the car was invented, human beings suffered from severe road rage: