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Homers the Iliad and the Odyssey

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Homers the Iliad and the Odyssey

Homers the Iliad and the Odyssey

May 16, 2004

People strive for independence and a sense of authority in our day and age. However, at many times this is more easily said than dome. Whether it's the Achaeans and the Trojans, the immortals, or God; lives and actions are commonly denied by a higher being of some sort. Now, this leads me to Homers epic poems; the Iliad and the Odyssey which deal with constant conflict in a world where the mortals are not even masters of their own destiny. The main character Odysseus and the two armies, the Achaeans and the Trojans, have little control over their own fate. Their destinies are defined by the gods. The gods demonstrate their control through prophecy, omens, and the intervention amongst the humans below them. Because of the control exercised by the gods, the characters are forced to become dependents on them, and fear their all mighty hand.

The story of The Illiad, deals with two armies, the Achaeans and the Trojans. In the war, the Achaeans are trying to sack the city of Troy. The Trojans are the defenders of the city, and led by the powerful warriors Hector and Paris, while the Achaeans are led by Agamemnon, Achilles, Odysseus and several other powerful men. The story concludes with the Achaeans on the verge of sacking Troy because their greatest warrior, Hector, died by the hand of Achilles.

The Odyssey is the story of Odysseus homeward journey after the Trojan War. Odysseus was afflicted with suffering on his voyage because he blinded the Cyclops, Poseidon's son. When he finally reached his home of Ithaca, he found several men trying to steal his wealth and woo his wife Penelope. This story ends with Odysseus saving his land Ithaca from the suitors.

In both stories, the characters respect the Gods prophecy and assume it to be true. Odysseus, who devised the plan of the Wooden Horse knew, "It was their fate to perish when the city should admit the great Wooden Horse" , and realized it was the only way to succeed in sacking the city of Troy. Similarly, never did Achilles question Zeus's prophecy that "Hector was to have a short life and already the day of his death was being driven upon him by Pallas Athene through the strength of Achilles." Because of this prophecy, Achilles had immense confidence in his victory over Hector. The characters are controlled by prophecy, concerning their own death. Achilles never doubted Hectors predictions about his death because he was aware of his own destiny. "Be careful now; for I might be made into the gods curse upon you, on the day when Paris and Phoibos Apollo destroy you in the Skaian gates, for all you valour."

In the same way, Odysseus does not fear death when he left on his land journey to make peace with Poseidon. He knows that he will return home to his wife Penelope, because it was his fate to die at sea an old man.

Omens from the gods influenced many critical decisions. When a character was in need, he commonly asked for an answer from the gods. Odysseus, unsure if he should attack the suitors, asked for an omen from Zeus. In answer, Zeus sent a large thunderbolt down as a sign and Odysseus became confident in his victory. When a sign sent from above was ignored by the unknowing, disaster was upon them at once. The Trojans were hesitant to sack the Achaean boats because of an omen of an eagle carrying a snake in its claw. However, because the Trojans were so confident in themselves, they chose to ignore this omen and paid for their insolence.

Constant control leads to constant dependency. Odysseus is constantly relying on Athene for help and questioned her absence when he reached conflict on his voyage home. Achilles weeps to his mother Thetis (an immortal): She came and sat beside him as he wept, and stroked him with her hand and called him by name and spoke to him; "Why then child, do you lament? What sorrow has come to your heart now?" Achilles asks how he should handle his personal war with Agamemnon. However, as much as the characters are dependent on the immortals, they still spent much of their life in fear.

During the Trojan war, Apollo carried Zeus aegis (Zeus's shield) in front of the Trojan army, in order to strike fear into the Achaeans. When Odysseus is staying on the island with Helio's cattle, he constantly reminds his men: "My friends, we have food and drink in the ship, so we must keep our hands off these cattle or we may suffer for it." Therefore, Odysseus feared the wrath of Helios. As much as the characters feared the immortals, they had no choice but to put their trust into the hands of the gods.

Agamemnon was told in a dream that the gods were going to hand

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