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.