Analysis of God in the Bible and the Gods in the Iliad
The Iliad, an epic by Homer, and the Bible, the holy book for Christians, both feature gods and goddesses. However, the Bible only has one God. The worshipers of their god/gods in The Iliad and in the Bible, the Greeks and the Christians, both think of their gods as just and fair. This isn’t necessarily true. In the Iliad, the religion that is followed by the Greeks and Trojans is polytheistic, meaning that they worship more than one god. These gods live a decadent lifestyle in Mount Olympus, their home.
Life for them is like one big party. They also have the option of mingling with the mortals on Earth.They take a very active role in the lives of mortals on Earth. In many cases, the gods and goddesses have relationships with mortals and have mortal children with them. The characters in the Iliad accept that the gods will interact with them and even expect it on a daily basis. Divine intervention plays a crucial role in the plot development and story of the Iliad.
The gods all take sides in the Trojan War. On the Greeks’ side was Hera, Poseidon, Athena and Hermes. On the side of the Trojans was Apollo, Aphrodite, Artemis and her mother Leto.Zeus, king of the gods, remains neutral throughout the fight, and allows the other gods to do what they want in the fight. His wife, Hera, certainly isn’t neutral. She schemes and plots behind her husband’s back, and even tries to get him to join her against the Trojans.
She is bitter towards the Trojans because of the incident with Paris and the other two goddesses. He chose Aphrodite over her as the most fair of the goddesses, and since he is Trojan, she is now resentful towards him and the Trojans. Her daughter was also replaced as cupbearer by a Trojan boy, which further fueled her hatred toward the Trojans.In book 5, Hera is seen on the battle field with Athena fighting against the Trojans. She and Athena also mock Aphrodite, a supporter of the Trojans, when she is wounded on the battlefield.
Aphrodite supported the Trojans since Paris chose her as the most fair. She tries to fight on the battlefield against the Greeks, but proves to be insignificant. She convinces her lover, Ares, to fight, though. Apollo, the first god to appear in the Iliad, is a supporter of the Trojans as well. When Chryseis, a daughter of a Trojan priest of Apollo, was ransomed, Apollo sent a plague to the Greek camps.Athena plays an important role in Book 22 when she disguises herself as Deiphobus, a friend of Hector.
She appears before him when he is running around Troy and stops him. When he turns to face Achilles, thinking his friend is there to help him, she disappears, leaving him to his own devices. Fate is one reason why the gods in the Iliad intervene in the battle. One could say that the gods were intervening to keep Fate on its course. The Greeks and Trojans were huge believers in Fate, and that when it is your time to die, you accept it.
One example of this is when the gods weighed Hector’s fate before he died. Apollo tried to help him numerous times, but was stopped the final time because it was decided that it was Hector’s time to die. Another example is when Sarpedon, the mortal son of Zeus dies. Zeus had the power to stop his death, but he let his son die because he knew that it was meant to be. Apollo played a part in the death of Patroclus as well. He helped Hector kill Patroclus.
Apollo’s interference was allowed by Zeus because it was Patroclus’s time to die, and the gods knew that Patroclus wouldn’t be the one to take Troy.What was interesting about Apollo’s interference with Patroclus was that the Greeks accepted Patroclus death as Hector’s fault, even though it was mostly Apollo’s doing. Apollo’s actions were thought of as a natural occurrence. Zeus is the one who allows the actions of the other gods. He weighs the Fate of the people and of the battle before allowing the other gods to act.
For example, when Achilles re-enters the battle, Zeus knew that he would take Troy if he wasn’t checked. Since he knew that it wasn’t Achilles’ time to take Troy, Zeus sent the gods back on the battlefield to help the Trojans defend themselves.The God in the Bible is the god of the monotheistic religions of Judaism and Christianity. However, this God plays a much less active role in the lives of his worshipers. In Genesis, he creates the world, and creates Adam and Eve, the first two people, then lets them go off and do their own thing with the sole rule that they cannot eat the forbidden fruit (Genesis 2:16). This God is very similar to the Gods in the Iliad because he, too, isn’t completely just.
This God seems to be very cruel, since he basically tests Adam and Eve to see how much pressure they can take before they break and eat the forbidden fruit.And when they do, God punishes them severely and takes away everything from them. This is somewhat cruel, since Adam and Eve are only human, and when people are tempted, it’s incredibly difficult to resist the temptation. It’s just like placing a toy in front of a child and telling them not to play with it. God created humans with curiosity, but then punishes them for having it.
A lot of this doesn’t make much sense and raises the question why God would punish Adam and Eve if He, being all-knowing, knew that this would happen, or if he could alter them or their actions to His will.Fate is not a part of God’s or the people’s actions. Another example of God’s injustice is how he commanded all women to have life-risking, painful child labors, all because Eve ate the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:16). This isn’t very fair to women in general, since they must suffer from the sins that their ancestors caused. It seems as if God is very wrathful, since he didn’t take into consideration how many women he really put into danger.
And if this God is all-loving, as it is said in Genesis, he wouldn’t put his worshipers into danger like that.It seems as if the main difference between the God in the Bible and the gods in The Iliad is that the gods in the Iliad have sound reasons for their actions. They killed, or helped to kill humans to keep Fate on course, and they thought through their actions before doing them. Although they have daughters and sons on Earth, if it is their time to die, they don’t intervene no matter how much they love them, because they know it is the way it is meant to be. The God in the Bible acts on his rage a lot, and his rage stems from people disobeying him or going against his will.God doesn’t try to understand their reasoning, He just punishes them on the spot, and usually quite harshly.
Homer used the gods in the Iliad to keep the plot going. Without the gods’ interventions, there wouldn’t have been much of a story. If Apollo hadn’t intervened in the very beginning with the plague, there wouldn’t have been much conflict. God’s role in the Bible is to keep the humans He created in check. He punishes them when they do wrong and praises them when they are righteous.
The gods in the Iliad rely on Fate to guide their actions, while the God in the Bible relies on His own feelings.