Characters in the Book the Iliad

There are many moral issues between the characters in the book the Iliad, but the biggest issues were with the characters you might least expect: the Greek gods and goddesses. The way these gods were vaunted by the Greeks, you would expect them to be perfect, Just, and faultless. But these illustrious gods were anything but that. Their moral priorities were very mixed up to say the least, and they took no notice of it. A big problem with the gods and goddesses was their self absorption; they were extremely prideful and vain.

Little did they know this pride would inevitably ause the Trojan War. It all started when the goddess of discord threw a golden apple with the words “for the fairest” inscribed upon it to Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite. Since each of them thought they were they were the most beautiful, they needed some one to Judge their beauty. But Zeus was too smart to agree to this so he told them to ask Paris, a handsome Trojan prince. The goddesses desperately wanted the golden apple, so each of them promised Paris a brilliant gift if he should choose them.

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Hera promised to make him a powerful ruler; Athena promised him wisdom nd victory in battle; and Aphrodite promised him the love of the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen of Sparta. Paris Just couldn’t resist Aphrodite’s offer and he gave her the golden apple and with Aphrodite’s help he seduced Helen, who was Prince Menelaus’ wife. Unbelievably, these three goddesses were so prideful and vain that they would actually cause the Trojan War all for the sake of owning a golden apple that belonged to the fairest of them all.

Another issue the gods had was their seeming impotence to forgive, their inability to let go of a grudge and their need or revenge. These same qualities the gods had played another huge part in the Trojan War. After Paris chose Aphrodite as the most beautiful, you can imagine that Hera and Athena were furious and out for revenge on Paris. Since there was a war going on between Troy and the Sparta (called the Argives in the Iliad), they decided to help the Argives and do everything in their power to destroy Troy, all for the sake of revenge on one man.

One example of this is when the gods were on the battlefield helping either Troy or the Argives. Hera, Athena, and Poseidon were helping the Argives when they saw Aeneas of Troy go up against Achilles. Poseidon took pity on Aeneas who had been urged on by one of the gods to fght Achilles; and Poseidon knew Aeneas would die if he did fight Achilles. So he asked Athena and Hera to help him save Aeneas from death, and Hera’s response to him in the Iliad was this, “Decide in your own mind, god of the earthquake, whether to save Aeneas now or let him die, crushed by Achilles, for all his fighting heart.

But time and again we two have sworn our oaths in the eyes of all the gods-I and Pallas Athena- never to drive the fatal day way from the Trojans, not even when all Troy burns in the rampaging flames when the warring sons of Achaea burn her down! ” Driven by revenge and a petty grudge, they couldn’t even have compassion on an innocent man because he was a Trojan. Lastly, the gods had a problem with being deceitful, especially with each other. When they really wanted something, they didn’t care if they had to lie or be dishonest to get it. Earlier in the battle, Zeus nad told the gods that they couldn’t tight in the battle yet.

Some time later, Zeus left the battle scene and went elsewhere to Mount Ida. If any of the gods would dare cross Zeus, the time was now and Poseidon and Hera saw their chance. The plan was that one of them would distract Zeus while he was still at Mount Ida, and the other would help the Argives while he wasn’t yet aware. So Hera tricked Aphrodite into giving her an enchanted breast band which would occupy Zeus’ attention, and while the she distracted him, the embodiment of sleep would put him into a deep slumber. All that was left was for Poseidon to assist the Argives in battle.

Hera and Poseidon’s behavior was not only unscrupulous, but also very eceitful. This Just goes to show that the gods had no problems lying and being mendacious to each other when it suited them, and that the gods were not always to be trusted. So you see the gods and goddesses of ancient Greece had many moral issues that they did not try to contain. The issues I mentioned were only three of many they possessed. It didn’t help the mortals either, who looked up to the gods for guidance. We should be thankful that these gods aren’t real and that we have a perfect, Just, and faultless God to look up to.


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