The Values Of Mortality In Homer's Iliad

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Mortality in Homer’s Iliad Mortality is one of the main qualities that set humans apart from the gods in the Iliad. The human characters of the Iliad are limited by their transience. However, Homer depicts how mortality can be morbidly powerful enough to move the reader and even the gods. The poet masterfully describes death and injuries throughout the play. Homer also shows the values the Greeks and Trojans shared on burial rites and the treatment of bodies. The poet not only focuses on the dead and dying, but also pays respect to the bodies of particularly impressive individuals, such as “godlike” Achilles, while the character lives. Homer does this out of respect for the human life and its impermanence. Achilles, being a descendent …show more content…
Homer masterfully illustrates the details of combat between his characters. One prime example of these battle scenes is the battle between Patroclus and Hector. The scene begins with the death of Hector’s charioteer, Cebriones. Cebriones is thrown off of the chariot to his death. Patroclus mocks his death, complementing the deceased Cebriones on his dive, before leaping at the corpse “Like a lion who has been wounded in the chest / As he ravishes a farmstead, and his own valor / destroys him.” (Book 16, p. 281, ln. 786-788). Homer compares Patroclus to a lion to convey the animalistic disrespect he shows for the corpse of Cebriones. Hector leaps from his chariot to fight Patroclus off. Patroclus is weakened by a boy who stabs him from behind after his breastplate is removed by …show more content…
Priam, / Huddled in grief at Achilles’ feet, cried / And moaned softly for his man-slaying Hector. / And Achilles cried for his father and / For Patroclus. The sound filled the room.” (Book 24, p. 324-325, ln. 547-551)
In a moment of compassion, we see the full impact that death has on the living. Achilles and Priam are so hurt by the loss of their loved ones that they weep openly together despite being enemies. This sorrow causes Achilles to sympathize with Priam, allowing him to take back his son’s body and to bury it. Achilles agrees to an armistice of eleven days to allow for Hector’s funeral. Ultimately, it is mortality that brings about peace, though short lived, to the Greeks and Trojans. The Iliad by Homer is an epic of war. As such, it depicts scenes of mortality and illustrates pictures of bodies in great detail. Homer shows the morbid beauty, intensity, and power of mortality. Multiple times, the gods are moved by sympathy for mortals because of their mortality. The transience of the characters in the Iliad is a critical plot device at times and a powerful literary tool at other times, used to invoke sorrow and empathy for the characters. Through mortality and his description of bodies, Homer conveys the intensity of war and the mourning of a character’s

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