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The Iliad Theme of Love

Part of what gives the Iliad its deep humanity is its sensitive portrayal of love in a variety of forms. Some of the most touching moments in the poem come between Hektor and his wife Andromache, which reveal not only the love of the spouses for one another, but also their parental love for their child.

Parental love is also important in motivating Priam to ask for the return of the body of Hektor at the end of the book. Sexual love is portrayed as an incredibly powerful force that takes away people's ability to think. This can be seen in Hera's seduction of Zeus.

Perhaps surprisingly for a modern audience, this type of love is sometimes portrayed as a destructive force, as when Helen criticizes the goddess Aphrodite for making her run off with Paris, which caused so many problems.

Questions About Love

  1. How would you characterize the role in the Iliad of Aphrodite, the goddess of love?
  2. Who is the most loving character in the Iliad?
  3. In the Iliad, which is more powerful: love or hate?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

In the Iliad, love is often a cause of violence and hatred.

In the Iliad, some kinds of love are seen as fickle, but love within families is not.

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