Analysis Of Homer 's Iliad : Human Agency Essay

776 Words Oct 26th, 2015 4 Pages
The basis of influence behind the decisions made by human characters in Homer 's Iliad gives rise to the inquiry of if agency is present among mortal characters, and if so, its scope of influence over their decisions making capabilities. In Book 14, Zeus is seduced by Hera; while Zeus is asleep, Poseidon intervenes with the war and helps to shift the tide of battle in favor of the Achaeans. Human agency, according to how it is defined in the lectures, is “the capacity to act ( . . . ) without the determining of outside forces such as gods, or fate.” With this definition in mind, the degree to which humans have control over their actions is constrained. Though humans within the Iliad possess conscious thought and the capacity to make independent decisions, their actions are often influenced by the gods, thereby violating the parameters of agency under the aforementioned definition. For this reason, the scope of human agency throughout the Iliad is restricted.
The restriction placed upon human agency is manifested via Poseidon’s role in rekindling the fighting spirit of the Achaeans. As a result of Hera subduing Zeus in Book 14, Poseidon is able to intervene with the mortals, at which point, in line 133, he “raised a mighty cry of battle, [which] put fresh courage into the hearts of the Achaeans to wage war and do battle without ceasing.” The increase in morale amongst the soldiers was produced within themselves, but the moral boost was facilitated via the involvement of a…

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