Iliad Free Will Analysis

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During the times of the Classical Greeks, culture began to abandon the principle of fate, and, at the same time, moved toward a firm belief in free will. In The Iliad, which Homer wrote around 750 BCE ("Reading the Iliad." Reading the Iliad. Web.), the author suggested that the people of the time had no control over their actions; rather, the gods controlled everything. In contrast, in Oedipus Rex, which Sophocles wrote in 429 B.C. ("Background for Antigone." Background for Antigone. Web.), many characters make choices of their own free will, despite knowing what their fate is. The shift in beliefs happened concurrently between the time during which Homer wrote The Iliad and the time during which Sophocles wrote Oedipus Rex.
In Homer’s The
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The characters recognize fate as the controlling force. For example, Homer wrote in the opening sentence, “And the will of Zeus was moving towards its end” (The Iliad, Book 1, Line 6). The opening phrase reflects the belief that humans are not in control of their own lives. All events in one’s life are predetermined by the gods. “The will of Zeus” (The Iliad, Book 1, Line 6) sets the stage for the whole story of the Iliad; all the events that occur are occurring because Zeus wants them to occur. The events are fated to occur. There is no room for free will. In addition, many of the characters are aware of their fates. Not only are they aware of their fates, but they are constantly referring to them. For example, Hector knows that he is fated to die. He refers to his fate when he says, “No man will hurl me down to Death, against my fate. And fate? No one alive has ever escaped it” (The Iliad, Book 6, Stanza 22). Hector admits that he knows one cannot escape fate, which is a reflection of the strong belief in fate at the time. Hector is still willing to recognize his fate, despite knowing what that means for his wife and …show more content…
“The emergence of philosophers such as Socrates, who lived from 470 to 399 BCE ("Socrates," Ancient History Encyclopedia. Web.), and Plato, who lived from 428 to 348 BCE ("Plato,” Ancient Greece. Web.), saw a shift, or rather an argument, on the Freewill dogma taking a new dimension which took away the control of one’s freewill from the gods to a Freewill controlled by humans themselves” (Jesse Omeregie. Omeregie, Jesse. Freewill: The Degree of Freedom Within. AuthorHouseUk, 2015). Based on this idea, Sophocles allowed his characters to make decisions of their own free will, even while knowing their fate. For example, when Oedipus tries to find out all the information about his past, he says to Jocasta, “Listen to you? No more. I must know it all, must see the truth at last” (Oedipus Rex, 1169). Oedipus is utilizing his ability to make choices of his own. By using the word “must” (Oedipus Rex, 1169), Oedipus expresses that he has no intentions of backing down. He no longer cares about his destiny. His only focus is the choice he is making to gather information about his fate. He has the power to decide on his own when his fate will come. If a human can cause his fate to come sooner, then he can also delay when it will come. The occurrence of one’s fate is not predetermined, allowing for human

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