The Gods In Homer's Iliad

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In early literate civilizations, religion was largely characterized by the worship of and reverence for a collective body of deities that explain natural phenomena. These conceptual Gods played an incessant role in developing human consciousness, dictating both human thought and action. It is unsurprising, then, that the Gods of Homer’s Iliad direct the course of the epic’s characters and even the Trojan war itself. Indeed, the Iliad anthropomorphizes these divine beings and frequently showcases their interactions with both one another and the Trojan and Achaean soldiers, whether in the form of direct contact, prayer, or prophecy. Given Homer’s “distinguished, inclusive, and elastic” vision of the gods, Scholar Roy Hack proposes that Homer was a personal polytheist, signified further by his envisioned world being “effectively governed (throughout) by divine power.” Contrary to this, the actions of the Gods in the Iliad are often antithetical to the grandiose descriptions of their reputations and abilities found in other Greek literature. The Gods frequently defy the western conception of divinity as omnipotent and morally righteous, displaying dishonesty, ineptitude, and prejudice. As such, I argue that Homer’s depiction of the gods as specifically emotionally infantile and lacking in agency serves as the framework for later criticisms of the famed deities in classical literature, thus encouraging secular methods of thinking by illuminating the many deficiencies found in
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