Similes In The Iliad

537 Words3 Pages
In the epic poem The Iliad, armies and individuals on both sides of the Trojan War are compared to animals through a figure of speech called, simile. The similes reveal qualities about the nature of honor and leadership. Through out the epic, both Gods and mortals have made decisions in battle that are considered honorable or dishonorable. While the narrator does not directly say an action is honorable or dishonorable, it is implied through simile that an action is to be viewed a certain way. For example, when Agamemnon attacks a group of Trojan soldiers he is compared to a lion and, the Trojans are compared to cattle stampeding in fear of the lion. “…others still in the middle plain stampeded like cattle when a lion…has terrified the whole…show more content…
292-293). This simile is particularly interesting because of its multi-faceted nature. Hector is compared to a huntsman, unlike Agamemnon who is frequently called “shepherd of the people”. A huntsman has a very clear position, as a leader of a pack, where as a shepherd guides the sheep instead of commanding them. This simile implies that there is a difference in the style of leadership between Agamemnon and Hector. Just before they are attacked by the Trojans, in Book Ten the Acihaians army is compared to a flock of sheep that sheepdogs are watching over. This concept of the leaders being compared to sheepdogs further emphasizes the more personal relationship that the Greek leaders have with their men. These similes help clarify to the reader or listener the relationship between leader and subordinate. Also, the Trojan soldiers are compared to hounds hunting after a lion. In the Iliad, referring to a person to a dog is used as an insult, for example when Diomedes is wounded by Paris, he calls Paris “…dog…”( XI. 362). But by comparing the Trojans to hunter’s hounds instead of cattle, it shows the fluctuation of the Trojans between predator and
Open Document