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Interpreting the Actions of th

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Interpreting the Actions of th

Interpreting the Actions of the Gods

The role of the gods in the Trojan War proved to be a major importance in the

final outcome and the psychological wellbeing of the mortals who fought for

both the Trojan side and the Achaians side. The Greek Gods high, on Olympus

watched the bloody battlefield below with a sense of satisfaction that they

controlled the fate of the battlefield. The Trojan War some could say was

actually a war among the gods as much as it was a war between the Trojans and

the Achaians. The Iliad hardly represents the world as Homer's audience knew

it. Gods are frequently coming down to the battlefield to aid in the fighting

and thus the heroes perform deeds no normal man could ever accomplish. When

reading Homer's Iliad you have to realize that the gods never were really

there but are merely used for an easy explanation to the strange happenings of

war. We can't believe that something in fact happened just because it is noted

in a mythology handbook. The Greek people needed the gods to explain

mysterious occurrences that occurred within their everyday lives so that these

strange happenings made sense to them. The role of the gods needs to be

interpreted as well as the various myths that surround the great Greek epic

poem The Iliad by Homer.

One instance when the gods were used to explain a strange and unusual thing

was towards the beginning of the book. When King Agamemnon didn't give up his

wife, a priestess of Apollo, the god became angry and did this to the Achaian

people "First he attacked the mules and dogs, then he shot his keen arrows at

the men and hit each mark. Pyres of the dead began to burn up everywhere and

never ceased" (p12) This to me sounds like a disease that suddenly infected

the Achaian army. Diseases usually start with animals, as that disease

evolves, it is able to attack and infect humans. This is what commonly happens

in Asia with people sharing living space with their animals both for heat and

there simply isn't enough space for them to be anywhere else. This could have

been how the Achaian war camp was set up, with animals living in close

quarters with their masters and a poor sewage system to go along with it. Now

all of this would have been quite surprising with men and animals suddenly

dying along the beach with out any warning. The Achaian people also arrived in

a new region and they, much like our Native Americans, couldn't have coped

with the diseases. Another possibility that could have occurred is that a

swarm of meteor showers struck the camp. Those meteors would have appeared as

if they were shot down from the heavens by some angry god. If all of this

didn't happen, their men suddenly dying, King Agamemnon would have sensed that

nothing was wrong and thus wouldn't have been informed to give up his wife. If

Agamemnon didn't give up his wife Achilles would still have his and most of

this story would have never taken place, if it did at all.

The Greeks also used the gods to explain why people do strange things that

would be better if they had not done them at all. A prime example of this is

when Odysseus swayed everybody back to fighting when they were all about to go

home to their wives and children, back away from the hells of war. Homer

explains why Odysseus continued the war by bringing the goddess Athena into

the picture.

"Odysseus Laertiades, can you do nothing now, my Prince? Is this to be the

end? Will they tumble aboard and go sailing home? Will they leave their boast

to Priam and his people? Will they their own Argive Helen, after so many men

have died in foreign land to get her back? Don't stand idle here! Go among

your men, speak to each fellow in your kindly way and keep them from launching

their ships!" p26

Odysseus loved battle; in fact he probably loved battle more than his homeland

and his wife combined. Now if all the Greeks stayed and fought they wouldn't

want to think that it was because of a war crazed madman, they would want to

think that they stayed and fought for Helen and for the revenge ...

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