Iliad Essay

392 words | 2 page(s)

As an ancient Greek poet, Homer must have believed, like many others at the time, that humans had very little control over their lives as fate was a supreme force that nobody could control. In the Iliad, Homer explores the complex relationship between fate and free will in such a way to remind the reader that there are situations where a man’s actions and decisions can change the course of events.

At the beginning of the poem, the author makes it very clear that the gods played a key role in shaping the events that he is going to narrate by asking Calliope, the muse of epic poetry, to reveal how “the counsels of Jove (i.e. Zeus) were fulfilled” (Homer 5). The ultimate and unchangeable nature of fate is once again asserted when Hector tells his wife not to worry about him because nobody has ever escaped their destiny – meaning that if his time has come, there is nothing that she can do to prevent his death (Homer 124). It is important to keep in mind that when Hector talks about fate, he doesn’t mean to portray mortals as passive and helpless.

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After all, if he wanted to avoid Achilles, he could easily leave the city without anyone being able to interfere with his decision. His point is rather different: if a man is destined to die on a certain day, death will certainly find him on that day, no matter where he is. As a hero who is destined to do great things but is given the choice not to fulfill his destiny, Achilles exemplifies humans’ ability to choose among different courses of action independently of metaphysical restraints. On the one hand, the gods want Achilles to help the Greek side win the war and die a glorious death; on the other hand, Thetis reminds Achilles that if he wishes to return home to live a long life, he is free to do so. Each decision will lead to a series of events which one may certainly call fate due to their predetermined nature.

Overall, the Iliad depicts fate as a powerful force that humans can control to a certain extent through their actions and decisions. Despite being destined to die, both Hector and Achilles are offered multiple options, each of which is bound to result in a specific fate.

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