How the themes of 'Nostos' and 'Kleos' work in Homer's Iliad?

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Edmond Koch eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Nostos is “homecoming,” and Kleos is “honor.” Nostos is really the main theme of the Odyssey, not the Iliad, but it is certainly present as an underlying theme in the Iliad, a story in which the war has dragged on for ten years and everybody very much wants to return home. Interestingly, when the Trojans make their attack in which Patroclus dies, they set fire to the Achaean ships to prevent them from leaving—really, to destroy their resources and turn it into a siege on the Achaeans by trapping them at the shoreline, but what they effectively do is turn them into cornered animals and escalate the situation severely by denying them a chance to go home.

Kleos is the main theme of the Iliad because honor is the whole reason they’re all there in the first place. They swore to support Menelaus in keeping Helen, so they’re all dragged into this theater of war, and it is concern for honor that prevents them from giving up and going home. Achilles is only there for his own personal honor (because...

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