Honor In The Iliad

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The passage selected lies in the concluding book of the Iliad and is dominated by a speech made by Apollo, in which he rebukes the gods’ complicity in allowing Achilles to brutalize Hektor’s body. The passage serves a pivotal role in the text, as it acts as an impetus for the conclusion of the Iliad, in which Hektor’s body is finally returned to the Trojans.
Apollo opens his speech, on lines 33-34, reminding the gods’ of Hektor’s sacrifices, which brought them honor. He then critiques the gods’ passivity, in allowing Achilles to mistreat Hektor’s body and denying Hektor’s dependents the proper burial rites, on lines 35-40. Apollo’s critiques reveal some of the reciprocal nature of Homeric relationships between mortals and the divine, as well as honor’s transactional role in that relationship. Hektor, in life, did the gods honor through pious sacrifices of “oxen and unblemished goats”, yet the gods do Hektor dishonor, by allowing his body to be mercilessly brutalized by Achilles. Here, honor works as a currency, something that can be owed by the gods to mortals. Later in the passage, it is revealed that honor can equally be owed by mortals to the divine, through Achilles’ relationship with the gods.
As Apollo’s speech progresses, he addresses why the gods are unjust in their support of Achilles because Achilles’ actions, themselves, are unjust. Achilles’ heart is described as having “no feelings of justice, nor can his mind be bent…”. Achilles’ resolute mindset is then

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