Petak, 18 Juni 2021 11:06

The Gods in Homer's The Iliad and The Odyssey Istaknut

Battle of the Gods on Mount Olympus against the Giants on Earth, illusionistic fresco by Giulio Romano Battle of the Gods on Mount Olympus against the Giants on Earth, illusionistic fresco by Giulio Romano

In Homer's epics, The Iliad and The Odyssey are personalities, both gods and men. The gods, as well as the people, are very clearly depicted and fully reflect the consciousness, morals, and social relations of the Greeks in Homer's time. Homer portrays the gods as both human-like and god-like. Individuals did not control their destinies. Instead, the gods were responsible for the fate of human affairs.

The gods in The Iliad and The Odyssey constitute one Hellenic hierarchically arranged tribal family ruled by the Giant (Zeus the god of sky and thunder) as in the heroic age the military elders ruled their tribe. They live on Olympus, surrounded by "the radiance of unspeakable beauty and light". Like a mayor in the human world, each of the gods rules a region with certain rules and responsibilities. From their golden chairs, they view human society as a theatrical play in which they are often the initiators and participants themselves. Relationships between them were characteristic of the life of the ancient Greek tribes.

In the war between the Trojans and the Achaeans, the supreme god, the Giant (Zeus), is neither on either side, because according to the understanding of the ancient Greeks he only must take care of the execution of the power of fate. The other gods, however, are not neutral in the Trojan War. The plot of the action in The Iliad is also aided by the gods. The goddess Hera puts Giant (Zeus) to sleep and allows Poseidon to help the Trojans, while the god Apollo helps Hector to kill Patroclus. At Thetis' request, the god Hephaestus forges a weapon for Achilles, who, with the help of the goddess Athena kill Hector. In The Odyssey, there is less wildness in people, and the gods are gentle and help people. The goddess Calypso, by the power of the gods from Olympus, betrays Odysseus and he leaves his homeland, and the goddess Athena masks him as a beggar and sends him to Ithaca.

Homer in The Iliad and The Odyssey represents the gods in many aspects; as humanlike, super being, controller, having miraculous actions, lifesavers, and disguisers. The gods intervene in human affairs and change the results of events. They can recover easily, can see everything, arrange the future and so change the fate of human beings by intervening. By their miraculous actions, a dead person can be revived or an animal can speak, Homer shows that whatever human beings try to change their fate, the control of everything is in the hands of the gods and a man cannot escape from his destiny. Because of that, the gods are represented as the controllers of human lives, and to control or intervene in human affairs, they disguise themselves into animals or people so that they can cheat people or help them as they wish.

The gods of The Iliad and The Odyssey differ from ordinary people and they are immortal, omnipotent, and living in abundance. By painting the gods, Homer gives a realistic picture of life and reads the moral code of judgments and thoughts about life and death, about man and family. Like the mortal men, the gods also vary in their characters and more of them have human characteristics as jealousy, weeping. They are not characterized by higher moral perfection, and they do not know about religious asceticism. Like human beings, they quarrel with each other and sometimes break the rules of peace and harmony in their world. Like people, they suffer from passion, and they know how to hate, how to be unfaithful, they commit adultery, they are capricious and vain.

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