Birds In The Iliad

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Interactions between humans and animals are extremely common in ancient literary works. Countless famous epics have drawn upon the interactions of humans with some aspect of the natural world. Most commonly, humans have been shown to interact with animals in antiquity to help give them clues of the task that they need to complete. These animals can be anything from a common hawk grazing the sky to a God of Olympus that has taken the form of a heron to signal warriors. In The Iliad specifically, birds play an interesting role as a medium between the world of humans and the world of the divine Gods. The ability of birds to traverse from one world to another is parallel to the divine powers that the Gods of Olympus have as well. The specific imagery…show more content…
In book 8 lines 245-249, Homer states: He spoke thus, and as he wept the father took pity upon him and bent his head, that the people should stay alive, and not perish. Straightway he sent down the most lordly of birds, an eagle, with a fawn, the young of the running deer, caught in his talons, who cast down the fawn beside Zeus 's splendid altar where the Achaeans wrought their devotions to Zeus ' splendid alter.” This example further supports the notion that birds were used in ancient Greek literature to show omens and act as a medium between the two worlds. The focus on this particular omen is on the eagle and its unbelievable strength. This incredible sign gives the Achaeans some much needed will to continue pressing against the Trojans. Homer uses the imagery of birds in a very different manner near the end of the epic. Most of the time, birds are used to convey a rather promising message from the Gods. However, when Hektor finally faces Patroclus, he tells him: “here the vultures will eat you”. This brings to light a rather grim view of birds as a different sort of messenger. In this instance, the birds are used as messengers of death and also as a guide into the underworld. Normally, the use of vultures as imagery is not a positive omen but rather an indication that the person will be
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