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Homer's portrayal of gods in 'The Iliad' -- 14yo's paper

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Please provide feedback on the content of my son's paper. He has been working on this for a month now... <sigh> He is 14 and in 9th grade.


Assignment: Discuss Homer's portrayal of the gods in The Iliad. What is their relationship with mortals? With fate? Why might Homer have chosen the gods as a frequent sourse of comic relief? What larger points does Homer seem to be making by depicting the gods as he does?




Gods and the Iliad


Homer was a Greek orator who performed popular epics of his era. One of his most celebrated works, The Iliad, is a suspenseful yet fictional account of the Trojan war. The plot of this story is the conflict between the tale’s legendary heroes, Achilles and Hektor. The gods are used to personify human tragedy, feelings, and emotions felt by mortals during the campaign. Homer’s portrayal of the gods keeps the reader engaged in this ancient epic.


The interactions between gods and mortals shape the course of the Iliad. One major interaction occurs when Athena stops Achilles from killing Agamemnon, “It was to check this killing rage I came from heaven, if you will listen,†(1.243-244). Many of the gods fell in love with mortals, creating tensions between the already betrothed deities. The gods made powerful demigod children with their mortal lovers, as with Peleus and Thetis, the parents of Achilles. The gods often rescued their children from danger, like when Aphrodite protects Aeneas, “…who now pillowed him softly in her two white arms and held a corner of her glimmering robe to screen him, so that no Danáän spear could stab or finish him,†(5.365-369).


Fate is the idea that forces outside human control cause events to take place. The gods had the ability to change fate, but chose not to, because doing so would disrupt the natural order of the world. One example of a god choosing not to change fate is when Sarpedon, the son of Zeus, is about to die, “My heart goes two ways as I ponder this: shall I catch up Sarpêdôn out of the mortal fight with all its woe and put him down in Lykia, in that rich land? Or shall I make him fall beneath Patroclus’ hard-thrown spear?†(16.506-511). The gods are often instrumental in bringing about the fate of human protagonists in the epic.


Comic relief is the use of humor in an otherwise solemn story. The purpose of comic relief is to lighten the mood of a work of literature, and to make characters more personable, keeping the reader interested in the plot. One incident of comic relief occurs directly after Aphrodite saves Aeneas, but was then cut by Diomedes, “Who did this to you, darling child? In heaven who could have been so rude and wild, as though you had committed open wrong?†(5.429-431) This was an indirect reference to when Ares and Aphrodite were in an affair, and were caught in a net by her husband Hephaestus, who then displayed them publicly.


A larger point Homer seems to be making is that life is unpredictable, which is shown by the many unexpected events that take place throughout the narrative. The usage of the gods in The Iliad helps the reader see the helplessness of mortals against destiny. The fictional decisions made by Homer’s gods in The Iliad are used to provide an explanation to the choices that mortal characters made throughout the epic. Homer’s deft use of the gods throughout The Iliad has immortalized this timeless masterpiece.

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  • 2 weeks later...

IMO, the original assignment does not lend itself very well to a focused essay. The assignment is a series of questions, each requiring short answers or even essays on their own. Your son has written paragraphs to address each of the questions in the original assignment but they do not connect together as an essay.


I think your son could write a focused essay based off his first paragraph using "The gods are used to personify human tragedy, feelings, and emotions felt by mortals during the campaign." as his thesis statement and forget about the rest of the issues raised in the original assignment.


But, he probably doesn't really want to spend any more time doing that. :tongue_smilie:


He could work on writing stronger sentences. He uses a lot of passive voice sentences. Switching those to an active voice would help improve the essay.

For example, instead of:


Homer was a Greek orator who performed popular epics of his era.


One could write:


Homer, a Greek orator from the _fill in the blank w/appropriate descriptive term_ time period, performed popular epics of his era.


Instead of:


The plot of this story is the conflict between the tale’s legendary heroes, Achilles and Hektor.


Try something like:


The story centers on/revolves around/focuses on the conflict between the tale's..................


This is similar to how my DS wrote in grade 9. His writing matured greatly over a year but he did several exercises on generating stronger sentences.

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