Iliad Themes at a Glance

  • All but the gods are mortal in the Iliad; all men must die and all cities fall. Men endure only through their reputations and the glory they earn, which last into eternity.

  • Honor is vital to a functioning society; Agamemnon nearly loses the war when he publicly dishonors Achilles and disrespects a priest of Apollo.

  • Fate plays an important role in the lives of mortals and gods alike; no man can cheat destiny, and not even the gods seem entirely in control of what Fate decrees.

  • The Trojan Hector relies on patriotism to rally his troops; the Greek leaders are less able to marshal their soldiers this way, reflecting the nascent state of Greek social and cultural unity.

  • The warriors are motivated by a fear of shame and ostracism; leaders remind soldiers of the shame they will face if they fail, and Helen fears the ridicule of the other women when Paris is defeated in battle.


(Epics for Students)

In the tenth year of the Trojan war, Agamemnon provokes Achilles into withdrawing from the fighting and asking his mother to get Zeus to give...

(The entire section is 2699 words.)