Student Question

How did Homer use divine elements to enhance characterizations in the Iliad?

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There are several ways in which divine elements are used to characterize the portraits of mortals in Iliad by Homer.

First, in the Iliad, as in most epic literature, one of the standard elements of the character of a hero is some form of divine ancestry. Most of the leading heroes on both the Trojan and Greek sides have a god lurking somewhere in their pedigrees. 

Next, all of the leading heroes have divine patrons who actively counsel them or intervene in their favor at crucial points in the plot. Athena's patronage of Odysseus reinforces his characterization as intelligent and resourceful, while Aphrodite's patronage adds to our sense of Paris as more amorous than warlike.

Finally, the term "godlike" is used as an epithet for several of the leading characters in the Iliad, as a way of emphasizing how much the heroes of the Trojan war were greater than ordinary mortals. 

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