‘Iliad’ is the first war story in European history – Redlands Daily Facts

Gregory Elder is professor emeritus of history and humanities at Moreno Valley College and a Roman Catholic priest. (Photo Credit)

With the terrible thunder of war erupting again in Europe, it may be time to return to the first war story in European history, the “Iliad” of Homer.

It was a celebration of war and the old poem was condemned. Written by Homer in the eighth century BC, it is a poem of 15,693 lines written in a dactylic hexameter, in the ancient language of ancient Greece, no one actually spoke.

The identity of Homer and his relationship with the text of the “Iliad” and other ancient music, the “Odyssey,” has been widely debated for 28 centuries. The song was first published orally. and later written. It comes from four centuries of silence after the time of the Trojan War.

The story of the Trojan War is well known. Ancient history tells us that Helen of Sparta was the most beautiful woman in the world and that she was the wife of Menelaus of Sparta. Paris, the son of Prince Priam of Troy, visited Sparta, stole or deceived Helen, and returned her to Troy. Menelaus sought out his war brother, Agamemnon, who mobilized the large Greek army to punish the Trojans and bring Helen back. Under the deception of the famous wooden horse, the Greeks entered the city and killed it with the sword.

The “Iliad” doesn’t know the story of the Trojan horse or much of the related stories. But it was explained that it was only about 60 days before the beginning of the 10th year of the war, when both sides fought for the captives.

The relationship of the Greeks with the Trojans is important to understand the meaning of the song. The poem was written in Greek and sung by soldiers to Greek warlords throughout history, most of whom spoke in direct descent from many of the things mentioned in the Bible. “Iliad.” But in order to show and celebrate the ingenuity and battlefield of the Greeks, they needed an enemy worthy of their strength. The “Iliad” doesn’t tell us when the war is over, but everyone knows that their Greek ancestors will win the next day.

During the 10 years of destruction and death, the immortal gods of Mount Olympus have watched the battle, as new football players are watching the new game, with thirsty happiness. The king of the gods, Zeus, forbade the gods to directly engage in combat, which gave the Greeks the opportunity to demonstrate their human warfare skills.

But the gods were divided in battle. Most of the gods, including the powerful Hera, Athena and Poseidon, loved the Greeks. But the twins Artemis and Apollo and Aphrodite also supported the Trojans. The division of the gods themselves showed the different powers of the two parties. Apollo was a good archer, but also involved non -combat skills such as poetry and teaching. Artemis in Greek mythology is often described as a tough young girl. Aphrodite is the goddess of erotic love but she is widely known to be the least of all the gods to cause problems before her administration. Love is like that sometimes in real life.

Aside from the deceptive practices of the pagan gods, Homer has a say for the present. Indeed, there was a celebration of the strength of the army and the fearlessness of the warriors was explained. Descriptions of the warriors dressing up and preparing for battle show great appreciation for the beauty of the weapons and swords. The Achilles tendon is shown in minute details. However, the attempt of the war would prove the strength and establish the fame of the warriors. By analogy, was it not the Second World War, who knew the leadership skills of Winston Churchill, and if not for the war in Ukraine, how many people would know the leadership skills of its president? this time

At the same time, Homer has little misconceptions about the horrors of war. We read of men accustomed to spears and thrown to one side, chariots to stand, and riders die, and young men cut off in their youth, and leave young widows. Homer sometimes described men shooting straight in the face with spears and we read descriptions of their brains being shot into their helmets. In a lurid passage, Homer describes a man who was tied around the neck and the spearhead was stuck in his stomach through his abdomen. Twice we read of men with their heads severed from their eyes and rolled on the ground.

Although the “Iliad” was written by a man for warriors, Homer did not care for the wounds of women. The Hecuba Queen of Troy must see her son cut in the same fight before her eyes. Hector Andromache’s wife is worried about what will happen to her son if his father dies. Helen thinks about the fate of her two brothers and watches the battle from the Trojan wall to see them, but the narrator tells us that they are both dead and buried some distance from theirs. homes. The first chapter describes Agamemnon and Achilles’ dispute over the fate of two women who had been taken prisoner of war and given the bed of a Greek soldier. Homer wants to tell us that in every war, women are the prisoners.

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