There gods joined in. But he won’t save
There is no doubt that it was the gods way in the Iliad, there was not even a proverbial highway as a second option. They knew how people were going to live, how they were going to dies, and what they were going to do, and the gods could choose when to make it all happen. Everything was predetermined; everyone’s lifeline was drawn with his or her first breath, at the moment of birth. “There are two great jars that stand on the floor of Zeus’s halls and hold his gifts, peoples’ miseries one, the other blessings.When Zeus who loves the lightning mixes gifts for a man, now he meets with misfortune, now good times in turn,” (Il. 24. 615).
Zeus’ gifts were typically accepted without question, though theoretically, one could try to break the laws of Zeus, but this was feared so much that it is only mentioned in the story, and never actually done. This only reinforces the fact that the gods had complete rule over the people. Sure, there were kings who ruled their cities, but they were fated just like the rest of the mortals, so by default the gods reigned over all.People could make choices, yes, but no matter what that choice was, the gods would work things out so that the end result was the same. Ultimately, the deathless gods administered the mortal humans, and fate unequivocally exceeded choice in Homer’s Iliad.
In a rather long scene where Achilles fights a man named Aeneas, the Gods are extremely active when intervening with fate. Firstly, Achilles had already fought Aeneas once before, but Aeneas had escaped. “Zeus saved you then and other gods joined in.
But he won’t save you now,” Achilles tells him (Il. 20. 27).
This alludes to a time before when Achilles probably almost killed him, but the gods interfered and saved Aeneas’ life, therefore showing the power of the gods and their will to carry out one’s fate. The two continue to fight and Achilles nearly won; “Achilles would have slashed his life away with a well-honed blade – if the god of earthquakes had not marked it quickly and called the gods at once who grouped around him,” (Il. 20. 334). The god of earthquakes then gives a long speech to the rest of the gods about why Aeneas should survive this encounter.This is a much more detailed showing of the gods at work following through with a person’s fate. Then Hera the Queen of the gods tells him: “Decide in your own mind, god of the earthquake, whether to save Aeneas now or let him die,” (Il.
20. 358). The gods don’t all contribute at once in this case, but it shows that they are all powerful enough to decide the fate of someone. He then made his decision: “Quickly he poured a mist across Achilles’ eyes, wrenched the spear from stalwart Aeneas’ shield… and hoisting Aeneas off the earth he slung him far,” (Il. 20. 369).So, even when it looked like certain death for Aeneas, the gods intervened and prevented him from dying.
Achilles then comments on this happening and says: “Ah, so the deathless gods must love Aeneas too,” (Il. 20. 396). This obviously shows that the mortals in the story have absolutely no control over fate with their choices. Aeneas is then informed of his fate, which is to hold back from fighting until Achilles’ fate is final.
“Once Achilles has met his death, his certain doom, take courage then, go fight on the front lines then – no other Achaean can bring you down in war,” (Il. 20. 384).Aeneas would then go on to be one of the few Trojan warriors to survive the war, and do bigger and better things later on outside of the story of the Iliad.
Thus, the gods control one’s destiny, and can work miracles to make it happen. In the main conflict of the story, the fight between Achilles and Hector, the gods play a major role. In their first encounter after Patroclus’ death, Achilles was headed straight for Hector, who was leading the Trojan lines. Hector was prepared to him on, but just then, Apollo appears next to Hector and shouts: “Don’t for a moment duel Achilles, Hector, out in front of your ranks!Withdraw to your main lines and wait him there, out of the crash of battle.
Else he’ll spear you down or close for the kill and hack you with his sword,” (Il. 20. 428).
This warning makes it clear that the gods control fate, for Hector was about to fight, but he was told to do otherwise by the gods in order to preserve their overall plan. After Hector withdraws from the front lines, Achilles slaughters many Trojans on his way to Hector, one of which being his brother, Polydorus. At this point, enraged, Hector charges at Achilles.When they meet, they have a small conversation before fighting, which includes Hector saying: “Well I know you are brave, and I am far weaker. True – but all lies in the lap of the great gods,” (Il. 20. 492).
This just goes to show that the mortals know that they are fated, and that the gods have all the control despite the choices that they make. Then, Hector throws his spear at Achilles, and it stops in mid-air, and comes back to Hector and lies at his feet. This was the work of Athena, for Achilles’ fate was not to die by the spear of Hector, so she intervened.Next, Achilles charges Hector and tries to stab him multiple times, but fails, since Apollo had yet again saved Hector. “Now, again, your Phoebus Apollo pulls you through… We’ll fight again – I’ll finish you off next time if one of the gods will only urge me as well,” (Il. 20.
510). This completely shows that the gods control human fate. A god saves Hector, and Achilles says that he will kill him next time when the gods are on his side. This turns out to be true. The gods get together similarly to when they did for Aeneas to decide Hector’s fate.After the decision, “Father Zeus held out his sacred golden scales: in them he placed two fates of death… one for Achilles, one for Hector… and gripping the beam mid-haft the Father raised it high and down went Hector’s day of doom,” (Il. 22.
249). For this battle, since it was between two more significant figures, there was a bigger council and Zeus had placed his final decision in his scales; Hector’s day had now come. After the decision the Athena aided Achilles in killing Hector, whose last words were: “I see my fate before me.Never a chance I could win you over…” (Il. 22. 419). This undoubtedly shows that Hector had then realized his fate, and willingly accepted it.
Obviously, the gods had predetermined Hector’s fate, and there was nothing anyone on Earth could have done about it. In the words of Hector’s mother, Hecuba, “this is the doom that strong Fate spun out, our son’s life line drawn with his first breath – the moment I gave him birth,” (Il. 24.
248). In book 21 of the Iliad, Achilles is fighting many Trojans along the Xanthus River.After slaughtering a good number of them he eventually floods the river with bodies, angering the river god, who begins to fight back against Achilles. “The relentless tide kept overtaking Achilles, yes, for all his speed – gods are stronger than men,” (Il.
21. 296). This god is very upset with Achilles, and is showing his strength over Achilles’ mortality by keeping him trapped in the river. Achilles puts up a good fight, but is noticeably far less powerful than a god. “Not one god can bring himself to rescue me from this river! he shouts, “my mother promised me I’d die beneath the walls of the armored Trojans, cut down in blood by Apollo’s whipping arrows! ” (Il.
21. 308). Angered by the lack of godly assistance, he yells this not only to ask for help, but to state that he already knows his fate, and it is not to die by the means of the river. However, the way he says it he implies that the gods have the ability to change his fate, and may have done so without informing him. The gods answer him, though, and Poseidon explicitly tells him: “it is not your fate to be swallowed by a river,” (Il. 1. 328).
This makes it evident that his fate is still to die by Apollo’s arrows at the walls of Troy. Clearly, Achilles knows his fate, accepts it, and understands that he cannot be the one to change it, as he is only a mortal. After Poseidon’s statement, the gods then help Achilles to escape the river.
Homer does not go on to actually depict Achilles’ death, but it is assumed that the fate is fulfilled, especially when Thetis is found in book 24 where she “mourned her brave son’s fate, she knew, on the fertile soil of Troy, far from his native land,” (Il. 24. 103).This means that Achilles’ fate is unmistakably predetermined, and will happen before the fall of Troy, by the arrow of Apollo.
The gods can even sway the minds of people, not just save them or kill them. This is monstrously apparent in the 24th book, as Priam, Hector’s father, ransoms Achilles for the body. Once Achilles had killed Hector, he did not leave the body where it was slain so that the friends and family could grieve over their typical ceremonies. Instead, he takes the body and attempts to absolutely obliterate it to avenge his dear friend Patroclus’ death.However, “no birds or dogs have eaten him… his body has not decayed… Achilles drags him round his beloved comrade’s tomb… but he cannot mutilate his body,” (Il.
24. 484). Clearly, since Achilles broke a major cultural and moral standard, the gods will not let any harm come to Hector’s body, even with Achilles’ best attempts at it; “fresh as dew, the blood washed away, and no sign of corruption… the gods love him dearly! ” (Il. 24.
494). Though it does nothing, Achilles continues to try and mutilate Hector’s body, which angers the gods.Finally, after twelve days, they decide to change this. “Achilles must receive a ransom from King Priam, Achilles must give Hector’s Body back,” Zeus decrees (Il. 24.
94). He tells Thetis, sea-goddess and Achilles’ mother, to tell Achilles this decree. Achilles’ immediate response is: “So be it. The man who brings the ransom can take away the body, if Olympian Zeus himself insists in all earnest,” (Il.
24. 168). This distinctly shows the gods’ power over the mortals, for anything that they explicitly declare is immediately followed.Not only is such an order given to Achilles, but one to Priam as well, who since Hector’s death had not been eating or sleeping due to his extreme grief.
Iris, a god sent by Zeus, tells Priam: “Olympian Zeus commands you to ransom royal Hector, to bear gifts to Achilles, gifts to melt his rage,” (Il. 24. 209). Priam responds to this by instantly getting his preparations to do so in order. Praim does ask his wife Hecuba what she thinks he should do, and she disagrees with the request sent by Iris, but Priam replies: “I will go. My mind’s made up. Don’t hold me back… you can’t dissuade me now.
If someone else had commanded me… I’d call it a lie and turn my back upon it,” (Il. 24. 259). So, like Achilles, Priam promptly follows the gods’ orders when they are given to him. Everything works out as the gods had planned, Priam reaches Achilles unharmed (with the help of the gods), Achilles gives up Hector’s body for ransom, and Hector is properly honored. Unmistakably, the gods have complete control over those on earth in the Iliad. It is almost as if they are playing chess and all the mortals are the pieces on the board.
In this case, however, the pieces have slightly more freedom, but barely.They can move where they want, and decide what they want to do, unless the gods choose not to let them. Basically, the humans are just on earth doing as they please, until the gods think that it could change their fate, then they are forced back onto their fatal path where they will eventually die at the will of the gods.
Clearly, through the rescuing of Aeneas, the preservation of Achilles, the delayed death of Hector, and the forced ransom by Priam, the gods are known to have complete control over the mortals. Something miraculous happens in every instance, and the predetermined orders of events the gods have laid out are fulfilled.