Writing Assignment – Week 4

Outline and map out the divine events in Book 8. How does it compare with the actions of the mortals in that book? What is the relationship between the actions of the mortals and gods in Book 7-8? Are the two related or simply concurrent (or mixed)? What does it say about the experience of the mortals in these two books “on the ground,” compared with other books in the Iliad, e.g. 5-6?

NB: Initial posts should be 350-400 words; each reply should be around 100 words.

12 thoughts on “Writing Assignment – Week 4”

  1. Book 8 begins with Zeus prohibiting the other Gods from interfering in the war. He then goes to Mount Ida and look over the Trojan plains. He also takes his scale and weighs the fate of the Trojans and Achaean’s. Of course, the Achaean’s side sinks down and Zeus turns the tide in favor of the Trojans. He sends a lighting strike down to the Achaean army. Agamemnon then prays and asks for a sign. Zeus then sends down an eagle carrying a fawn in its talons, which inspire the Achaean army to fight back. Teucer, the archer,fells many Trojans but Hector wounds him. Nestor stuck in the middle of the battlefield, Diomedes scoops him just in time. While the Achaean army struggles to get back to their feet Athena and Hera prepare to enter the fray but Zeus sends Iris to them with a message In his message he warns them of the consequences if they interfere. Reluctantly they turn back around. The way it compares with the mortals, the same punishment Zeus sends to Athena and Hera the mortals do to each other. It is forbidden to cross sides. At the same time when the mortals make pacts and agreements, they always break them. Just like how Athena helped Diomedes in battle, she told him don’t challenge any other God except Aphrodite. While he does wound her by cutting her wrist, he also goes in attack to Apollo. Apollo issuing a stern warning pushes Diomedes to the side. The relationship between the actions of the Gods and mortals are related. They all do the same thing to each other. With the mortals they pray to the god’s and ask for help, as with the god’s they just go to Zeus and ask for favor upon whoever they are going on behalf for. It’s like when the gods aren’t “on the ground” with the mortals, they are intervening in some type of way. I think that without the God’s present both sides have no faith. They are relying on the God’s to help them win. I don’t think they feel independent unless the God’s have helped them in some type of way or are going to help them.

    • Shamari, I like the some of the parallels you made between gods and mortals. Whenever either the gods or the mortals look at a task they look at a higher power to find the power to finish the task. This is just like Hera going to Athene to try and save the Greeks because she knew she couldn’t herself (8.350-357). Mortals do this with everything they do, from building a wall to going to war. It’s like they both need an intervention of some sort just to make a mental checklist they did everything possible to get to their goal.

    • I like how you said “without the God’s present both sides have no faith.” Not only do the mortals rely on the Gods to win, but they also rely on them for protection. There are many instances where some of the major characters could have been killed off if it wasn’t for a God intervening. For example, in Book 7 when Aias and Hector were dueling, it was Apollo who came down to pick up a wounded Hector after Aias had knocked him over. This same relationship between mortals and gods has taken place in previous chapters.

  2. I believe the first form of divine action we see is when Athena realizes that Paris and Hector are killing Argive ranks she shoots down to interfere but Apollo intercepts her and convinces her to halt the war and the heat of combat at least for a day with a duel between Hector and and Achaean. Apollo staged the action and sent hector a message with what he was suppose to do. While fighting Ajax Hector fell ( 7,314-320) and Apollo intervened to pull him right up, also this is when Zeus sent he heralds to stop the duel.In book 8 we then see Zeus pull out sacred golden scale and place two fates on it.We the scale was in favor of the Trojan Zeus hurled a bolt at the Achaean army. Also Zeus sends a eagle with a fawn in its talons to where the Achaean soldiers always sacrificed to him. The actions of the Gods and the actions of the mortals are connected because Divinities intervening in the Iliad causes conflict not only for the mortals but for the gods as well.Every god has his/her favorite and ever moral has his/her so their actions are connected because as war rages on between the mortals it will transfer to the immortals.This is because immortals expect to rule according to their wills and wants, which is in turn ruling by self-interest. so when they don’t get their way they complain and interfere , and clash because everyone is looking out for and praying to their favorite.

    • Rayon, I agree that it is valuable to notice the mutual discord amongst both the mortals and the immortals in books 7 and 8. While divine presence would presumably exist to maintain order, the deities of the Iliad provide no such thing. The intervention of the gods on the battle field may be saving lives but it is very possibly making these lives more difficult and prolonging the war. For example, while Apollo and Athena plan to end the fighting by convincing Hektor to participate in one on one combat, Apollo’s intervention for Hektor prevented the battle from a decided victory (7.272-76). In the end all that could be said was that they “shall fight again, until the divinity chooses between [them]” (7.291f). The same thing happened in book 3 between Alexandros and Menelaos. Aphrodite pulled Alexandros out of danger before a decisive victory could be made. Not only are these interventions causing trouble for the mortals but it is causing strife amongst the immortals who are reprimanded by Zeus in the opening of book 8. Recognizing the disruption caused by the deities Zeus prohibits them from intervening in the war thus causing only more conflict and rebellion amid the gods who are reluctant to leave their favorite heroes to die.

  3. Shamari, I liked the comparison you made between the mortals asking the gods for help on the battle field and the gods asking Zeus for permission to intervene. As Iris says in book 8 “I can no longer let us fight in the face of Zeus for the sake of the mortal” (she does so as a representation of Zeus) Athena also puts limitations on Diomedes to not harm any gods (8.27-.28). In some ways, it seems that the gods also have a dependency on mortals. In book seven Poseidon is angry at the mortals for not “given the gods any grand sacrifice” after building a wall (7.450). This and the fact that gods seem to always be in need of sacrifice from the mortals suggest that it is a semiotic relationship. These relationships seem to be a reoccurring theme throughout the Iliad.

    • Clara and Shamari, I thought both of your posts were great. I like the idea of pointing out the similarities between the mortals and gods (rather than the obvious differences) and showing how the gods and the mortals are actually rather dependent on each other. IF we think about it, the war begin with gods needing the mortals. Going back to how the Trojan War even began, Aphrodite had depended on Paris to pick her as the most beautiful goddess. And just the same, the mortals constantly need the gods and their guidance, though they may not always realize it. For example, we are constantly seeing the gods whispering in the warriors’ ears and persuading them to do certain things. We see an example of this in book 8 when Hera “set it in Agamemnon’s heart to rush in with speed himself and stir the Achaians,” (8.218-219).

      • I had not even thought of that Breanna but that was an amazing point. Its almost as if the gods need to constantly seek the mortals approval. The difference between the two, however, is that the gods can not be killed, and the gods constantly play with the lives of the mortals. Even in book five when Aphrodite is hurt on the wrist and bleeds ichor,that is the most the gods have ever truly felt the pain of the mortals. I know gods are immortal but are they able to turn immoral and die? In any case, I believe that book 8 draws parallels to other books and is not just a liner part of the story.

      • Breanna, you made a great point about the gods needing the mortals. It seems like they are more dependent on the mortals than the mortals are on the gods. The gods want to be remembered and worshiped just like any warrior on the battlefield. They want glory, but they can’t wage war on each other. They would destroy the world in their power or they wouldn’t leave anyone left to respect them. The gods need sacrifices to maintain their glory. Those sacrifices make them feel special and relevant the mortals cause, whatever that cause may be.

  4. Book 8 consistently has me asking the question: “What is the relationship between Zeus and the Fates?” All throughout this book we see Zeus as seemingly in control of fate. He sets the “fateful portions of death” for the Trojans and the Achaians (8.70). Hera says that it is his “right” to “work out whatever decrees he will on Danaans and Trojans” (8.430f). Zeus refers to his strength as “invincible” claiming that “not all the gods who are on Olympos could turn [him] backwards” (8.450f). Does Zeus control fate or is he simply a vehicle to bring about fate? Would fate still prevail if Zeus (or any other deity for that matter) did not intervene?

    • Megan, I think that is a rather interesting point to bring up. After all, the Fates are goddesses and are thought to be even older than the gods and have the ability to determine the gods’ fates, not just mortals (though I don’t know if that is true across all of Greek mythology or just the little tidbit I know). I don’t think Zeus necessarily controls fate (but then again, he is king of the gods so maybe he does) but I do believe that the gods’ interactions with the mortals isn’t changing the fates of the mortals. Instead, I think by intervening the gods are making sure that the mortals are following the correct path. For example, in book 9 (though it is a little ahead) Achilleus says, “For my mother the immortal goddess Thetis with her glistening feet tells me I carry two sorts of destiny toward the day of my death. Either if I stay here and fight beside the city of the Trojans, my journey home is gone, but my glory shall be everlasting; but if I return to the beloved land of my fathers, the excellence of my glory is gone, but there will be a long life left for me…” (9.410-416). So basically, despite anything the gods can do, Achilleus only has two real fates that have been predetermined. So every time a god intervened and talked to him, such as in the beginning when Athena convinces him to not fight with Agamemnon, could be looked at as an attempt to keep Achilleus on the right path.

  5. Shamari,

    I love your comment, ” They are relying on the God’s to help them win” because I think it is true and is ironic in the way in conflicts with the constant glory and heroism each mortal is attempting to achieve. Zeus’s call to assemble the God’s proves that they have been a significant part of the war so far. This is further demonstrated with Zeus states, “And anyone I percieve against the god’s will attempting to go among the Trojans and help them, or among the Danaans, he shall go whipped against his dignity back to Olympos” (8.10-12). This statement blatantly conveys they way in which the god’s have been interfering thus far. Therefore, it is interesting that characters like Hektor are so obsessed with achieving glory and leaving a legacy behind when he is only partially responsible for any success.

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