Fate And Free Will In The Iliad

1414 Words 6 Pages
Ancient writings have immense historical value due to their ability to provide an ethnographic snapshot of an ancient society’s cultural systems. In this paper, I take advantage of the Illiad’s ethnographic snapshot and extrapolate on ancient Greece’s value systems, particularly their moral code and worldview. My textual analysis reveals a worldview greatly influenced by fate and free will as well as a moral code driven by pride, honor, and glory. Ultimately, my analysis is contingent and enabled by the third-person omniscient prose employed by Homer, which permits the development of a diverse group of characters. The diversity of characters promotes multiple perspectives on any single data-point, in addition, the diverse group of characters …show more content…
He enables the characters, to varying degrees, the ability to choose or manage their fate. The existence of an inevitable fate is first introduced in the third line of The Iliad and conveyed through a request for recounting of “ How the will of Zeus was accomplished”. Herein, lies the foundation for their complex worldview: fate is controlled by the gods and it is unavoidable; however, a caveat is revealed by way of Venus’s threat to Helan: “ Bold Hussy, do not provoke me; if you do, I shall leave you to your fate”, which introduces both the capacity to choose and hints at fate’s malleability. The capacity to choose and the malleability the accompanies choice is encapsulated by Achilles recount of his two fates: ““ If I stay here and fight, I shall not return alive, but my name will live forever: whereas if I go home my name will die but it will be long before death shall take me”. Thus, these accounts are revealing in the sense that they illustrate two ostensibly conflicting concepts- Fate and Free will, but a closer inspection reveals an interplay not a contradiction. Amalgamating the three quotes provides the basic framework for understanding their views on fate, namely, the belief that there is an unavoidable end, but the means in which the end is reached are dependent upon choice and the Gods. By virtue of The Iliad’s …show more content…
An analysis of recurring themes and characters reveals a great deal about the culture of ancient Greece, namely, their complex understanding of fate, a moral code predicated on honor and pride, and a fetish for glory through war. Moreover, I contend that The Iliad is a literary manifestation and commentary on the Greek cultural system, the diverse characters, the depiction of motivating values, and the complex beliefs systems portrayed in the Iliad embodies Greek culture. Thus, a robust understanding of ancient Greece can be ascertained by an analysis of The

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