How do the immortals act like the mortals in The Iliad? explain.

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rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The gods and goddesses in the Iliad—and in Greek mythology in general—behave very much like humans, sometimes with disastrous effects on mortals themselves. They squabble and argue. They also hold grudges, especially when they are offended by the actions of humans. Early in the Iliad, for example, we learn that Apollo, the "son of Zeus and Leto," has brought misfortune upon the Greeks because Agamemnon dishonored a priest of Zeus by taking the man's daughter captive. They interfere directly in the lives of the humans on both sides, even in combat. For example, Aphrodite intervenes in the duel between Paris and Menelaus to save the life of the clearly overmatched young prince. Athena, on the other hand, supports the Greeks (having been angered by Paris, who chose Aphrodite over her in a contest of beauty) and repeatedly intervenes on their behalf. The gods lusted after each other (and after humans). They schemed and plotted against each other, stabbed each other in the back, told lies, and did all of the things that humans do.

So the gods and goddesses were capricious, angry, spiteful, and often petty. Their squabbles were harmful because they were so powerful—they were in many ways all too human but also possessed of superhuman powers. So when they sought vengeance, or to placate their anger, they wrought tragedy among mere mortals. The pettiness of the gods offers an interesting insight into the worldview of the Greeks, who must have seen the world as cruel and indifferent to human suffering.

Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The immortals in The Iliad act very similar to the mortals, especially in terms of human emotion and character traits.  The beginning of the epic poem in book one is a perfect example.  Like mortals, the gods also have families, including marriage and children.  Hera and Zeus' relationship make them seem like an average married couple; they obviously care about each other but also disagree at times and argue.  For example, Hera acts very jealous over Zeus' promise to Thetis, and Zeus stubbornly insists that he will not be controlled by his wife.

Not only do the gods have emotions like humans, but they also participate in mortal activities, like planning enormous feasts, eating, and  sleeping.