The Gods of the Iliad


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This powerpoint helps to provide the backstory to the Iliad, and illustrates the key gods in the text along with their affiliation for Greeks or Trojans.

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The Gods of the Iliad

  1. 1. The Gods of The IliadHow the Divine works in Homer’s Epic of War andFate
  2. 2. The Role of The Divine Ask yourself these questions: 1. Is there such a power as God or gods? 2. If so, what is God’s job? 3. What would you like God to do? 4. Does God ever appear unjust? 5. What is irreverent behavior to God? 6. Does God have the right to punish those who disobey and reward those who obey?
  3. 3. The Gods in the Iliad They do everything we probably think that the Divine should not do. They are often used as comic relief. They come off as petty, argumentative and biased. We cannot be sure if they genuinely care about humans. Humans often appear more noble in this epic than the gods.
  4. 4. The Gods Take Sides in the TrojanWar The gods help their favorite mortals both directly and indirectly. Mortals fight gods and gods fight each other. The world of the Iliad is a world of cosmic conflict. Favoritism is based on many factors: birth, piety, insults, grudges, using one human against another—in some cases we don’t even know why the gods favor one side over the other.
  5. 5. The Division of Support Among theGods On the side of the  On the side of the Greeks are: Trojans are: Athena  Apollo Hera  Artemis Poseidon  Leto Hermes  Aphrodite Hephaestus  Ares (later) Thetis  Xanthus (the river god of Scamander)*
  6. 6. What Is Zeus Doing About All This?Zeus tries to stay above the fray and stand forjustice and fate. He uses the scales of fate andjustice to determine his actions, but he can also bepersuaded by personal petitions and trickery fromthe gods.All of the gods must obey Zeus as he is thesafeguard of fate and the most powerful God of all.Mortals recognize the superiority of Zeus to all theother gods.Despite his authority, Zeus does not behave as we
  7. 7. Who Are These Gods? Zeus, Ruler of Mount Olympus, Known by Many Names, Lord of the Sky, Rain-God, Cloud-Gatherer, And Zeus of the Thunderbolt. The Mighty Zeus, the Greek god known also as the Roman god Jupiter or Jove. Zeus, Greek god of the sky was also the supreme ruler of Mount Olympus and all the other Greek gods and goddesses of the Olympian pantheon. As ruler of the sky, the Greek god Zeus was responsible for bringing (or not, if he so chose) rain, drought, and thunderstorms. No one dared challenge the authority of the mighty Zeus since he was prone to release his fearsome thunderbolts to express his displeasure . Superbly rational, Zeus became an outstanding administrator and a respected leader. He set high standards and was a very strict disciplinarian, even-handedly meting out punishments to those who broke the rules and settling all their disputes with great wisdom and impartiality. Seldom acting out of anger, the Greek god Zeus rarely held a grudge and was usually willing to let "bygones be bygones" once youd served your time.
  8. 8. Hera: Goddess of Marriage/Wife toZeus The goddess Hera blessed and protected a womans marriage, bringing her fertility, protecting her children, and helping her find financial security. Hera, called the Queen of Heaven, was a powerful queen in her own right, long before her marriage to Zeus, the mighty king of the Olympian gods. The goddess Hera ruled over the heavens and the earth, responsible for every aspect of existence, including the seasons and the weather. Hera was a jealous wife, who often persecuted Zeuss mistresses and children. She never forgot an injury and was known for her vindictive nature. Since Hera was goddess of marriage, she was often angry with her philandering husband Zeus. According to mythology, Hera is described as very jealous. She persecuted Hercules because Zeus was his father, but another woman - Alcmene - was his mother. Hera persecuted many of the other women Zeus seduced in one way or another.
  9. 9. Aphrodite:Aphrodite is known as the Greek Goddess (Roman Venus)of love, desire, beauty, fertility, the sea, and vegetation. Itis said that when Cronus (father of Zeus, Hera, Poseidon,Hades_ was castrated by Uranus (father of Cronus-creatorof heaven and earth), and his part was thrown into the sea,Aphrodite was thus born and arose on a large shell, whichwas then carried to land, thus her name being translated"foam-risen". The sea nymphs dressed her and adornedher with flowers and gold. She now represents Erotic Loveas a form of Divine influence, which has resulted in manymen becoming capable of falling in love with her. There aremany other tales of Aphrodite, as her Roman name isVenus, she is also known as the daughter of Zeus andDione.She is the mother of Aenaus, cousin of Hector whobecomes his ally in the Trojan War. She is the lover ofmany, including Ares, Atlas, Hermes, Dionysus and manymortals.
  10. 10. Apollo: A Multi-Faceted GodThe son of Zeus and Leto, Apollo was the god of music (principallythe lyre, and he directed the choir of the Muses) and also ofprophecy, colonization, medicine, archery (but not for war orhunting), poetry, dance, intellectual inquiry and the caretaker ofherds and flocks. He was also a god of light, known as "Phoebus"(radiant or beaming, and he was sometimes identified with Heliosthe sun god). He was also the god of plague and was known as the destroyer ofrats and locust, and according to Homers Iliad, Apollo shot arrowsof plague into the Greek camp. Apollo being the god of religioushealing would give those guilty of murder and other immoraldeeds a ritual purification. Sacred to Apollo are the swan, the wolfand the dolphin. His attributes are the bow and arrows, on hishead a laurel crown, and he carries a lyre. But his most famousattribute is the tripod, the symbol of his prophetic powers.He was Troy’s greatest supporter, and it took Zeus to stop himfrom defending Hector when Achilles came to find him.
  11. 11. AthenaDaughter of Zeus, and only by him, the Goddess Athena was notgenerated by any woman. She leaped from the head of Zeus, alreadyadult, dressed with her armor.In the Iliad, she is the patron of honor and glory in war. She appearsas a warrior who defends the GreeksShe later becomes the patron goddess of Athens.In the Iliad, Athena is the Goddess of ferocious and implacable fight, but, wherever she canbe found, she only is a warrior to defend the State and the native land against the enemiescoming from outside. She is the protectress of civilized life, of artesian activities, and of agriculture. She alsoinvented the horse-bit, which, for the first time, tamed horses, allowing men to use them.She is a great supporter of the Greeks, helping Diomedes after Achilles refuses to fight, andshe loves Odysseus most of all—this is more evident in the Odyssey. She is the goddess whostands by Achilles as he faces Hector in front of the Trojan walls.
  12. 12. Xanthus: God of the River The river god, who was the son of Zeus (Iliad, 14.434), received sacrifices from the Trojans, who had appointed a priest for him(5.77). Book 21 of the Iliad is entirely devoted to Achilles murderous fight against the Trojans in the river, which results in the gods request to continue the struggle somewhere else because there were too many dead bodies within his waters (214-221). Although Achilles wants to do this, he still has to cross the river, and the river god attacks him. The Scamander is not a very large river, but it has become famous because it is frequently mentioned in the Iliad(6.4). The poet mentions that it had deep swirls (20.73), was flowing smoothly (21.2), and was by the gods called Xanthus ("the blond one"; 20.74) (Note: Xanthus is also the name of one of the immortal horses of Achilles, but there is no relation to this god.?
  13. 13. Ares: The God of Bloody War Ares was the great Olympian god of war, battle-lust, civil order and manly courage. In Greek art he was depicted as either a mature, bearded warrior dressed in battle arms, or a nude beardless youth with helm and spear. He is the son of Zeus and Hera.The character of Ares in Greek mythology will be best understood if we compare it withthat of other divinities who are connected with war. Athena represents thoughtfulnessand wisdom in the affairs of war, and protects men and their habitations during its )ravages. Ares, on the other hand, is nothing but the personification of bold force andstrength, and not so much the god of war as of its tumult, confusion, and horrors. This fierce and handsome god loved and was beloved by Aphrodite. When Aphrodite loved Adonis, Ares in his jealousy changed himself into a bear, and killed his rival. He switched sides from the Greeks to the Trojans for her. Athena never forgave him for that betrayal. The savage character of Ares makes him hated by the other gods and his own parents. In the Iliad, he appears surrounded by the personifications of all the fearful phenomena and effects of war.
  14. 14. Hephaestus Hephaestus, the god of fire, especially the blacksmiths fire, was the patron of all craftsmen, principally those working with metals. Born crippled and rejected by his parents, Zeus and Hera, he returns to Mount Olympus to marry Aphrodite—Zeus sees this as a safeguard against other gods who will want her. But she is constantly unfaithful. Thetis, mother of Achilles, turns to him to make glorious armor for Achilles—nothing like it has ever been made or will ever be made again.
  15. 15. Thetis: Mother of Achilles Zeus attempts to seduce her, but she rejects his advances. The goddess Themis, who is an oracle, revealed that Thetis was fated to bear a son who was mightier than his father. Fearing for his dominion, Zeus gave Thetis as bride to a mortal, Peleus, who is seen as the greatest of all mortals. All the gods attended the wedding, save one—see the story of the golden apple. Thetis bore one son, Achilles, whom she tried unsuccessfully to make immortal. In one version of the story, she anointed the infants body with ambrosia and then placed it upon a fire in order to burn away the mortal parts; when she was interrupted by the childs horrified father, she deserted their household in a rage. In a later version, she dipped the child in the river Styx holding him by the heel; all the parts that the river touched became invulnerable, but the heel remained dry. Thetis is a reoccuring character in the epic. Peleus is known only through the recollections of others, even though he is still alive. Achilles loves both of his parents dearly.
  16. 16. Poseidon: God of the Seas Poseidon has a more dominant role in The Odyssey, in which Odysseus angers him and he keeps him at sea for 10 years. Brother of Zeus and Hades: all three picked lots for the control of the heavens and earth. Hades got the underworld, Zeus got heaven and earth, while Poseidon ruled the seas. Poseidon was sent to serve King Laomedon of Troy, father of Priam and grandfather to Hector.. He had him build huge walls around the city( these walls were impregnable). The king promised to reward him, but he refused to fulfill it. Poseidon could not forgive that slight, so he sided with the Greeks in the Trojan war. Poseidon always carries a trident—see illustration. Even though he sides with the Greeks, he takes pity on Aenaus, a cousin of Hector, and saves him from death at Achilles’ hand. Aenaus, who is also half-divine, is later believed to have fathered the founders of Rome.
  17. 17. Other Gods With Minor Roles in The Iliad Hermes: the messenger god and a loyal servant to Zeus. He sides with the Greeks, but on Zeus’ command, he aids Priam, the Trojan king. Leto: Mother to Apollo and his twin sister, Artemis. She sides with the Trojans. Artemis: Also known as the maiden goddess and the goddess of the hunt. She sides with the Trojans. The goddess Isis also serves as a messenger from Zeus. It is not clear if she has sided in the conflict, but it is presumed to be on the side of the Greeks.
  18. 18. The Story of the Golden Apple Zeus wanted to seduce Thetis until he heard the prophesy that her son would be greater than his father. So he married her off to Peleus , seen as the greatest of mortals. Peleus and Thetis had not invited Eris, the goddess of discord, to their marriage. The indignant goddess threw a golden apple onto the table at the wedding. A note was attached: to the fairest. Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite each reached for the apple. Zeus proclaimed that Paris, prince of Troy and thought to be the most beautiful man alive, would act as the judge. Hermes went to Paris, and Paris agreed to act as the judge. Hera promised him power, Athena promised him wealth, and Aphrodite promised the most beautiful woman in the world. Paris chose Aphrodite, and she promised him that Helen, wife of Menelaus, would be his wife. Paris then prepared to set off for Sparta to capture Helen. His sister, Cassandra and his mother, Hecuba tried to persuade him against such action. But Paris would not listen, and he set off for Sparta. In Sparta, Menelaus, husband of Helen, treated Paris as a royal guest. However, when Menelaus left Sparta to go to a funeral, Paris abducted Helen and also carried off much of Menelaus wealth. Paris violated the sacred laws of hospitality. He also brought many of the Greeks into the fight: all former suitors of Helen swore an oath to protect her in case she came to harm. Thus the Trojan War began.