Interpreting beinterpreted as well as the various
Interpreting the Actions of the Gods The role of the gods in the Trojan War proved to be a major importance in thefinal outcome and the psychological wellbeing of the mortals who fought forboth the Trojan side and the Achaians side. The Greek Gods high, on Olympuswatched the bloody battlefield below with a sense of satisfaction that theycontrolled the fate of the battlefield. The Trojan War some could say wasactually a war among the gods as much as it was a war between the Trojans andthe Achaians.
The Iliad hardly represents the world as Homer’s audience knewit. Gods are frequently coming down to the battlefield to aid in the fightingand thus the heroes perform deeds no normal man could ever accomplish. Whenreading Homer’s Iliad you have to realize that the gods never were reallythere but are merely used for an easy explanation to the strange happenings ofwar. We can’t believe that something in fact happened just because it is notedin a mythology handbook. The Greek people needed the gods to explainmysterious occurrences that occurred within their everyday lives so that thesestrange happenings made sense to them. The role of the gods needs to beinterpreted as well as the various myths that surround the great Greek epicpoem The Iliad by Homer.
One instance when the gods were used to explain a strange and unusual thingwas towards the beginning of the book. When King Agamemnon didn’t give up hiswife, a priestess of Apollo, the god became angry and did this to the Achaianpeople “First he attacked the mules and dogs, then he shot his keen arrows atthe men and hit each mark. Pyres of the dead began to burn up everywhere andnever ceased” (p12) This to me sounds like a disease that suddenly infectedthe Achaian army.
Diseases usually start with animals, as that diseaseevolves, it is able to attack and infect humans. This is what commonly happensin Asia with people sharing living space with their animals both for heat andthere simply isn’t enough space for them to be anywhere else. This could havebeen how the Achaian war camp was set up, with animals living in closequarters with their masters and a poor sewage system to go along with it. Nowall of this would have been quite surprising with men and animals suddenlydying along the beach with out any warning.
The Achaian people also arrived ina new region and they, much like our Native Americans, couldn’t have copedwith the diseases. Another possibility that could have occurred is that aswarm of meteor showers struck the camp. Those meteors would have appeared asif they were shot down from the heavens by some angry god.
If all of thisdidn’t happen, their men suddenly dying, King Agamemnon would have sensed thatnothing was wrong and thus wouldn’t have been informed to give up his wife. IfAgamemnon didn’t give up his wife Achilles would still have his and most ofthis story would have never taken place, if it did at all. The Greeks also used the gods to explain why people do strange things thatwould be better if they had not done them at all. A prime example of this iswhen Odysseus swayed everybody back to fighting when they were all about to gohome to their wives and children, back away from the hells of war. Homerexplains why Odysseus continued the war by bringing the goddess Athena intothe picture. “Odysseus Laertiades, can you do nothing now, my Prince? Is this to be theend? Will they tumble aboard and go sailing home? Will they leave their boastto Priam and his people? Will they their own Argive Helen, after so many menhave died in foreign land to get her back? Don’t stand idle here! Go amongyour men, speak to each fellow in your kindly way and keep them from launchingtheir ships!” p26Odysseus loved battle; in fact he probably loved battle more than his homelandand his wife combined.
Now if all the Greeks stayed and fought they wouldn’twant to think that it was because of a war crazed madman, they would want tothink that they stayed and fought for Helen and for the revenge of their lostfriends. Some people knew that he was man who loved war over anything else byactually placing one of the heroes of the Trojan War in hell and portrayed himas a bad person. There has always been people like this, but if your Greek youwant to think that your culture is superior to others. With men like Odysseusyou see your culture as flawed, a culture which places war above family andlove. The Greeks simply couldn’t have this and in order to explain such menthey used gods. Another example of war crazed men who prolonged the battlesand stayed away from home is when Pandaros shot Menelaos during a time ofpeace.
The Trojans and Achains were getting along and the war was almost overwhen Athena came down and persuaded Pandaros to break the truce. “Will you take my advice and show your good skill? Then dare to have a quickshot at Menelaos! This will give you great credit, and all the Trojans willthank you, most of all Prince Alexandros. He will be the first to heap rewardsupon you, if he seed that mighty man of war King Menelaos, brought down byyour arrow and laid out on a funeral pyre.” p49Just another example of how the Greek culture made up gods so they didn’t haveto live with the fact that they had men whom favored battle over family.
There are some men who think that they are so good at killing people that ifthey somehow mess up and miss they don’t blame it on themselves, they blame iton the gods. ” O Father Zeus, such an unkind god as you there never was! Youdo spoil everything! I did think I had paid out that scoundrel, and here is mysword broken in my hand, and my spear missed and never touched him.” (p46)This is yet another example of how people and societies want to be perfectwithout flaw. By simply making a mistake people blame it on the gods.
Thisstill happens in today’s society especially in sports. When a team loses theysay, “god just wasn’t with us today and we weren’t suppose to win today.” Weall blame god when a bad thing happens or we screw up bad, in fact blaming godis a common thing to make us feel like it wasn’t our fault. The phrase “Goddammit” is an extremely common phrase that we hear almost everyday of ourlives.
So the ancient Greek warriors, when they mess up and not kill somebodyblame god just as we do in today’s society. Gods are also used to make the characters feel better about themselves andwhat going on in the world around them. They do this by praying. Achillesprayed to his mother when Agamemnon took his wife away in replace of his, “Ohmy mother I was born to die young, it is true, but honor I was to have fromZeus Olympian, Thunder on high! And now he has not given me one little bit!Yes, my lord King Agamemnon has insulted me! He has taken my prize and keepsit, he has robbed me himself.
” (p17)If there were no gods to pray to Achilles would have had to hold his angerinside of himself. Over time the anger would have either killed him or hewould have had to kill Agamemnon. So for once the gods were good at doing onthing. Yet another hero who prayers is Diomedes. He prays to the goddessAthena for revenge on the man who shot him. “Hear me, O daughter of ZeusAlmighty, Atrytone! If thou didst ever stand by my father’ side in friendshipon the battlefield, now again show thy love to me Athena! Grant me to comewithin spear-cast of that man, and to slay that man” (p60) This is adifferent kind of Prayer than what Achilles had said, this one wasn’t forgetting anger out but was for hope that he would kill the person who harmedhim. The Greek gods were there to comfort people in times of need and thussaving them and giving people someone to put the blame on, besides themselvesor family members.
The gods were placed by the Greeks onto the world to explain things and makepeople feel better about themselves and their culture. Gods were used in everymajor culture to explain and help understand the strangeness that the worldthey live in is composed of. In our present day society people still believein God. Today God does what the Ancient gods of Greece did thousands of yearsago, comfort and protect you mentally. If you have a problem with doingextremely horrible things you can blame the counterpart of god the devil. Withblaming the devil you are taking the blame off of yourself and are saying thatmaybe I can be treated and the devil will be removed from my mind.
Withoutthat you may kill yourself when treatment is just around the corner. Footballteams pray to god before a game so that they could win. That is not muchunlike what the Achains and the Trojans did before they went into battle. Godsmay not be real but they do make us feel better about each other and ourselvesin both today’s and yesterdays world.