Which passages in the Iliad focus on the theme of cunning intelligence or trickery?

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Throughout Homer’s epic, the gods manipulate the humans to influence the war’s outcome. Instances when the gods trick the mortals by assuming disguises or using their divine powers can be found in many spots. Because the epic recounts wartime exploits, intelligence figures prominently in the military strategies.

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Throughout Homer’s epic, the gods manipulate the humans to influence the war’s outcome. Instances when the gods trick the mortals by assuming disguises or using their divine powers can be found in many spots. Because the epic recounts wartime exploits, intelligence figures prominently in the military strategies.

Early in the poem, before the planned battle begins, several gods assume human disguises to take their places in both the Greek and Trojan armies. Most of them persist in this behavior even after Zeus tells them to desist.

Two related tricks involve goddesses. Aphrodite, acting on her love for Paris, interferes in his fight with Menelaus; because Paris disappears, Menelaus is adjudged the victor. In turn, Athena intervenes, urging Pandarus to target Menelaus, but then causing his arrow to deflect and injure, rather than kill, Menelaus. The incident provokes Agamemnon, and many blame Pandarus for the ensuing battle.

One extended episode of smart cunning involves the plan that Agamemnon initiates in Nestor’s aid. After a fractious warriors’ council, Agamemnon decides that the Greeks should infiltrate the Trojan camp by sending in two spies. These are Diomedes and Odysseus. On their way, they intercept a Trojan spy heading toward the Greek camp. After killing him, the successfully enter the Trojan camp. Not only do they assess the troop strength, but they kill a dozen Thracians and release their horses, facilitating their escape.

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It's important to be aware that The Iliad concerns the Olympian gods almost as much as it does the mortals fighting the Trojan War: in that respect the action in the epic is actually divided into two separate but interrelated spheres; mortal and divine. I would say, on a question like this, some of the epic's most striking displays of trickery and manipulation are actually displayed by the Olympians, as they attempt to manipulate the course of the war.

For example, consider the beginning of Book Two, when Zeus sends Agamemnon a dream. This dream is essentially a false omen of victory. As The Iliad states:

With these words the dream went off, leaving Agamemnon with a false picture of the future in his mind. He imagined he would capture Priam's town that very day, the fool. He little knew what Zeus intended, nor all the sufferings and sorrows he had in store for both sides in the heat of battle. (The Iliad (Penguin Classics Ed.) trans. E. V. Rieu, revised and updated by Peter Jones and D. C. H. Rieu, p. 22)

Prophesies and omens are key themes across much of Ancient Greek mythology, and they are accordingly given a great deal of weight. In this scene, Zeus is manipulating the idea of prophesy in order to deceive. Remember, Zeus's sympathies lie with the Trojans...

A second example can be found in Book Four, carried out by Athena (perhaps the most cunning of all the gods). By this point in the poem, Menelaus and Paris have had their duel (with Aphrodite spiriting Paris away before he could be killed), and the two sides are currently in a truce. Violently opposed to Troy, Athena wishes for the Trojans to break the truce so that the fighting could restart (with all dishonor for oath-breaking falling upon them rather than the Greeks). Thus, she intercedes personally, disguising herself and entering the Trojan camp, convincing one of the Trojans, Pandarus, to kill Menelaus with his bow (even as she manipulates his attack to ensure Menelaus's survival).

As one final example, I would point towards Book Fourteen. Unlike the other two examples, this isn't a case of the gods manipulating mortals, but rather of the gods manipulating one another. Remember, the gods themselves are divided over the Trojan War, with Zeus, the king of the gods, sympathetic to Troy. Hera, meanwhile, is aligned with the Greeks. Thus, in this book she seduces her husband in order to lure him to sleep, so that Poseidon could assist the Greeks free of Zeus's intervention.

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This is a good question. The most cunning person in the Iliad is Odysseus. He shows his cunning or intelligence in a few ways. First, in book two when Agamemnon tells the Greeks that they are departing for home, the only one who is able to see through this test is Odysseus. He also shows intelligence in how he dealt with people. When he came across a common solider he talked harshly to them, but when he approached a leader, he reasoned with them.

Second, in the context of the great argument and hatred between Agamemnon and Achilles, the one who is able to smooth things over between them, is Odysseus. Without the many interventions, Achilles may have left the battle.

In book ten, there is a sneak attack into the Trojan camp by Diomedes and Odysseus. They are able to get important information and they kill Dolon and Rhesos.

Finally, the most famous example of cunning is the story of the Trojan horse. The fullest description of this occurs in Vergil's Aeneid and Homer's Odyssey. Through this trick, the Greeks are able to the defeat the Trojans.

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