The Iliad's Ending Essay

908 words - 4 pages

Homer's Iliad is commonly understood as an epic about the Trojan War, but its meaning goes deeper than that. The Iliad is not only a story of the evolution of Achilleus' persona, but at times it is an anti-war epic as well. The final book proposes many questions to the reader. Why not end with the killing of Hektor? Most stories of war conclude with the triumphant victory of good over evil, but in the Iliad, the final thoughts are inclined to the mourning of the defeated Hektor, which accentuates the fact that good has not triumphed over evil, but simply Achilleus triumphed over Hektor. Ending with the mourning of Hektor also brings to center stage for the first time the human side of war and the harsh aftermath of it. We see that war not only brings great glory, but also much suffering and anguish. Homer puts his anti-war views on display.
Homer drives home the bleakness and hopelessness of war with his final book. When thinking of a war, the first thought to pop into one's head is most likely death and suffering, not great triumph and glory. For a great majority of the Iliad, however, Homer writes about the winning of glory, and the pride taken in killing a foe. This gives war an entertainment value, and makes it seem that it is a good opportunity to be fighting in a war. This is not the case whatsoever. With the mourning over the prestigious Hektor, it makes the reader realize that no matter how much glory is attained through battle, the fact remains that you are fighting a war and your life expectancy sub sequentially drops dramatically. The sadness that war creates is neglected for much of the Iliad, but in book twenty-four, the point is emphasized thoroughly. Beginning with the speech of Kassandra to the Trojan people, the entire city is portrayed as completely engulfed in sorrow. She says, "He was a great joy to his city, and all his people," The sense of loss is great and stings deep in the Trojan hearts. The pain is exemplified even further with the speech of Andromache, wife of Hektor. With this we see for one of the first times the importance of family to the Trojans. Andromache's suffering is extreme and harsh. When she says, "But for me passing all others is left the bitterness and the pain," it shows the importance of the husband to the wife. This speech is very pivotal in depicting the bleak future for the widows whose husbands left them behind to die in search of honor. Now that the husbands are dead, the once noble wives and children must go work as slaves, once their...

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