The Iliad Questions Answers

The Iliad Questions Answers


1. Comment on Iliad as an epic.


 Identify and discuss the conventions of the Greek epic with particular reference to Books I and II of the Iliad.

The Iliad Questions Answers

Ans. An epic is a poem comprising of fictional characters usually involved in huge a war. An epic is usually of great length. We can often find a lot of political intrigues. An epic has a very large scale in which things operate. This large scale includes grand clothes worn by characters, long passages of descriptions generally using epic similes, extended metaphors and other figures of speech. We also have the device of dues-ex-machina. They often help or hinder the characters in the epic.

Many epics are often about a single hero who conquers many problems during the span of the epic concerned. We have examples like Odyssey, Beowulf, and Ramayana etc. An epic usually considers to be giving us a picture of the society in which it was created since war is a primary theme of an epic, we often find heroic boasts which adds to the element of hyperbole. In epics we often find many digressions. These digressions are but a natural result of the lengthiness of the epic. When an epic begins, the poet generally begins with an invocation.

Iliad was written in a poetic format. Of course all the characters of this epic are fictional. They are involved in war with each other. Some time the wars are local and sometimes they are fought on a huge scale. For example, the entire epic describes the war between Greece and Troy. Yet we often find in book I and II, small battles between individuals as well as between tribes. For example we find that Achilles fights with Agamemnon’s men.

Iliad is also of a huge length. It runs into thousands of lines. However, book I and II taken separately is not of such a huge length. In Iliad as early as in book I we find that there are a number of political intrigues. In fact Helen was only an excuse used by Agamemnon to attack Troy. Agamemnon had always wanted to conquer Troy. All through the two books we find Agamemnon involving himself in various deceits. We find him thinking of abetting Achilles to serve him his purpose.

Al the descriptions in the poem are of large magnitude. From the description of the huge number of Greek ships to the description of the city of Troy and its huge walls. We also find that the great warriors, kings and the queens wear magnificent armors and dresses.

From the very beginning of Iliad we find that Apollo hearing the prayer old Chryse, becomes angry at the Greek and kills them with his arrows. Again, when Achilles prays to his mother then she promises that she will help him in fact Achilles himself is half god and half human. In these two books we often find various god and goddesses interfere in human activities.

The Iliad Questions Answers

Though iliad talkes about a number of heroes. There is no single hero who is prays to his mother to help him against Agamemnon. Even the first two books we portrayed as the all powerful or ideal hero so much so that even the mighty Achilles we find many heroic acts of the heroes. find our attention divided among Achilles, Hector, Agamemnon and Odysseus.

Though Like all epics Iliad also gives us a picture of the society in which it was written. to know about the condition of the women who were not considered anything better It shows the petty ribaldries among the various, small tribes and nations also come than commodities. We also come to know as to how the various policies maintained by the various countries for war and diplomacy.

Digressions are common in the first two books of Iliad. We are often reading about the story of the heroes as they were in their childhood. We often find the stories of the gods and goddess which do not have anything to do with the main story of the epic. I these digressions were not aided in t e first draft of the epic but rather with the progress of time, various authors added various stories tot the main text.

Thus we find that Iliad has almost all the qualities that an epic has. Like all other epics Iliad was also composed as a poem. We can safely say that Iliad is an epic.

The Iliad Questions Answers


2., Discuss Homer’s portrayal of Achilles with reference to Books I and II of the Iliad.


Character of Achilles.


The role of Achilles.

Ans. Achilles was the son of Peleus, a mortal and Thetis, a goddess. Thus, Achilles is demigod. Achilles perhaps is the most important character in Iliad. It is with him that the epic begins. In the first book Achilles gets the most importance. Achilles is presented as the most valiant and sought after warrior in the epic. Yet Agamemnon says that he was great warrior because, “. . . God made you so.

He could be regarded as the foil on one hand of Hector and on another hand of Agamemnon. While Agamemnon is blinded by is intense desire for material prosperity, Achilles always maintains a balance between his material desire and his war like attitude Agamemnon was always after wealth and other avenues of fame. Achilles according to the epic always took whatever was due to him. Since Hector’s role and character is not mentioned in the first two books we will not deal with his character much. However unlike Hector who fought to protect his home, Achilles was a mercenary. Thus while Hector is a true prince, Achilles is more of a tribal chief.

Through the behaviour of Achilles we can understand a number of things about ancient Greece and their politics. For example, after being insulted by Agamemnon in book’1, Achilles could have had attacked Agamemnon. But if he had done so, then Agamemnon’s forces would have had attacked Achilles’ home. Thus Achilles just like an intelligent chief protected his people at the cost of his own insult. Not only is Achilles a great warrior who had a strength of a hundred men but he is also a very intelligent person who tries to reason with Agamemnon’s greed. Through Achilles homer tries to show the heroes of the lore. He can be compared with Mahabharata’s Arjun.

Adding to the multi dimensional figure of Achilles, his erring and appealing to his mother to punish Agamemnon, he is presented as a common human being who cries and laments. Thus, through Achilles we can find a marvellous creation of a character who is multi dimensional.

3. Analyse the role of gods and goddesses in Iliad.


Write a critical note on the idea of divine intervention with reference to Book I and II of Iliad.

Ans. The gods and goddesses love to manipulate, plot, and ploy against the humans they detest, so pay close attention, because their influence drives battles that ensue throughout the poem.

The Iliad would be nothing if it were not for the gods, as they ultimately decide the fate, or outcome, of the humans. From the very beginning of The Iliad, it is clear that when the gods are offended by the actions of the humans, or when the gods favor one human over another, the humans’ fates are sealed. For example, in Book 1, when Agamemnon takes Chryses’ (Apollo’s priest) daughter as a prize, Apollo puts a plague upon the Achaean camp until Agamemnon agrees to return the daughter to her father. These gods are not playing around, and have no problem using human suffering as a form of entertainment.

While every instance of divine intervention cannot be listed here, below are some important moments that identify when, and why, the gods stepped in. It is important to note the gods were not necessarily intervening for the benefit of the humans but more for their own interests or tastes. Disagreement, compromise, or spite between the gods often became motivation for intervention. Take a look at the roles of the gods in The Iliad, and try to decide the justification for their intervention.

Here are some examples of the gods or goddesses stepping in to help the Trojans by giving compassion, strength, or even life:

Before The Iliad, Paris was given a golden apple from Zeus, a token to signify the fairest goddess; he chose to give it to Aphrodite, goddess of love. She has shown favor to him, and even had Helen fall in love with him. This is why, during his battle with Menelaus, Aphrodite rescues Paris by concealing him in a thick mist, and then brings Helen to him in his chambers.

Zeus, king of all the gods, men, and universe, claims to stay neutral in this battle; however, he does give more favor to the Trojans by helping Hector more than he initially set out to in his promise to Thetis. He gives Hector strength, symbols from the sky, and protection during battle.

4. What purpose does Aegean’s flight to the ships signify in Book II in Homer’s Iliad?

Ans. To help the Trojans, as promised, Zeus sends a false dream to Agamemnon ancient, mythic leaders mentioned as participants in this heroic achievement. By calling these men to mind, Homer doesn’t bore his audience but rather stirs them, in which a figure in the form of Nestor persuades Agamemnon that he can take Troy if he launches a full-scale assault on the city’s walls. The next day, Agamemnon gathers his troops for attack, but, to test their courage, he lies and tells them that he has decided to give up the war and return to Greece. To his dismay, they eagerly run to their ships.

When Hera sees the Achaeans fleeing, she alerts Athena, who inspires Odysseus, the most eloquent of the Achaeans, to call the men back. He shouts words of encouragement and insult to goad their pride and restore their confidence. He reminds them of the prophecy that the soothsayer Calchas gave when the Achaeans were first mustering their soldiers back in Greece: a water snake had slithered to shore and devoured a nest of nine sparrows, and Calchas interpreted the sign to mean that nine years would pass before the Achaeans would finally take. Troy. As Odysseus reminds them, they vowed at that time that they would not abandon their struggle until the city fell.

Nestor now encourages Agamemnon to arrange his troops by city and clan so that they can fight side by side with their friends and kin. The poet takes this opportunity to enter into a catalog of the army. After invoking the muses to aid his memory, he details the cities that have contributed troops to the Greek cause, the number of troops that each has contributed, and who leads each contingent. At the end of the list, the poet singles out the bravest of the Achaeans, Achilles and Ajax among them. When Zeus sends a messenger to the Trojan court, telling them of the Greeks’ awesome formation, the Trojans muster their own troops under the command of Priam’s son Hector. The poet then catalogs the Trojan forces.

Third, the flight to the ships indirectly results in the famous catalog of the Achaean forces. Nestor’s advice that the troops be arranged by city ensures that the soldiers will be motivated: by fighting side by side with their closest friends, they will have an emotional investment in the army’s success, and their leaders will more easily be able to identify them as either cowardly or courageous.

Zeus, king of all the gods, men, and universe, claims to stay neutral in this battle; however, he does give more favor to the Trojans by helping Hector more than he initially set out to in his promise to Thetis. He gives Hector strength, symbols from the sky, and protection during battle.

5. What is an epic simile? Comment on Homer’s use of epic similes with reference to the books of Iliad you have read.

Ans. According to online Encyclopedia Britanica an epic simile, also called Homeric simile, an extended simile often running to several lines, used typically in epic poetry to intensify the heroic stature of the subject and to serve as decoration.

All the similes used in the text are not homogenous. Some of the epic similes were meant to be a relief from the narrative. Most of the similes are drawn from the world of nature. Here the scale of the events and heroes have been brought into the relief. Most of them occur whenever there is a battle scene or an impending battle. The similes are used to help digressions occur. Initially, short similes are used and then the epic/extended similes seems to be a later development. Similes could also be used to reiterate whatever has happened earlier. They are also the necessary ornaments that a narrative essentially has.

Similes tend to occur at moments of high emotion, drama and tension, often introducing a change of perspective (e.g. the entrance of a warrior), and they are especially prevalent in battle-scenes. The most common points of comparison with human life and action are lions (used forty times in all), birds, fire, cattle, wind, and water, and boars, thirty-one subjects occur once only: these include mule , ass, worm, rainbow, bean and horse-trainer. As for their function, these similes introduce a world of peace in a martial poem; they impose the unchanging world of nature on temporary, fleeting human existence of all listeners they give contemporary vividness to the world of the heroic past; and they often create deep pathos, for example the dying warrior likened to a poppy heavy with spring rain. In the similes, perhaps more than elsewhere, Homer speaks most directly to us.

.6. Comment on the Narrative technique of Iliad.

Ans. Like all major primary epics Iliad (Book I and II) is written in omniscient narrative. An omniscient narrator is one who knows everything about the events of a story and the characters involved in the same. When the epic was composed all literature was basically oral. In an oral story, there cannot be but an omniscient narrator who will be telling the story. If the narrator is not, all knowing, then he/she won’t be able to tell the story freely. The narrative as usual begins with an invocation to the gods trying to find the reason as to why Achilles is angry on the Greeks? The narrator requires a heavenly intervention to illuminate him. This was in line with the narrative tradition and convention of the heroic era.

This kind of narration that is used in the Iliad, has a number of advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is that there hardly remains any doubt about the authenticity of his or her narration. This authenticity is reinforced by the fact that the narrative and the narrator are informed by a divine source i.e., a muse. After all the epic deals with god like men and real gods often impinge upon the action of the epic so it is but obvious that the help of the muse will be needed.

The narrator seems to take it for granted that the listeners are already aware of whatever is going on already in the two books. The narration begins in media res. We find that epic begins with Homer telling us as to why Achilles is angry at the Greeks. Further we come to know that nine years of war has already been perspired between the Greeks and the Trojans. Unlike Mahabharata where we find the heroes
growing up slowly, in Iliad, we find that the heroes have actually grown old. As soon as we enter into the action of the epic we find that the narrator has already taken a back seat and the action takes over. However, often breaking the monotony of the narration there are passages of description, dialogues and monologues. In the first book we find a quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon. Again towards the end of the second book we find a kind of the roll call of the various people who has come to participate in the war. The story interestingly proceeds from the interaction between the characters. This form veers off from the diegetic to the mimetic. The narrative impulses gives place to the dramatic activities on the pages.

We are not sure if Homer had a set pattern in his mind for the epic narrative. This epic like most primary epics are not a single set of incidents that follow each other in close succession. This epic like any other primary epic is more of a coagulation of a number of incidents compiled over a very long period of time. Since we are here dealing with only two books here the narrative statements could more or less be following a linear and well woven pattern. The same might not be true for the whole of the epic.

One of the drawbacks of the narrative is its repetitiveness. First, Homer knew that if you have an ordinary human audience it is well to state the main points of your story at least twice, and if you can contrive to state them three times without wearying the listener, so much the better. Homer knew, then, that a phrase or incident can gain by repetition. He also knew that, unless the expression be varied, there is a risk of weariness. Also Homer knew that they, like us, were touched by reminiscences and repetitions, even when they were least conscious of the cause. We can enjoy the composition without even seeing that it has a scheme. But the scheme is there, and is one cause of our enjoyment. Both repetition and a pattern are an aid to the memory. In a work of this length memory has to be there. Break it up into a number of distinctly articulated groups or episodes : let each episode have a pattern of its own, akin to the main scheme, but also individual : one will find one can remember the composition. He likes to throw his material into a shape that is simple and quite easily recognizable. If the scheme involves repetitions, he does not object, but regards the fact as a positive advantage. The several patterns play on one another and contribute to the beauty of the whole like the designs in some elaborate tapestry.



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