From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
The Iliad

The Iliad

  

by Homer

The Iliad Theme of Religion

In the world of the Iliad, gods and goddesses are a daily presence in people's lives. In fact, many of the book's characters are either children of divinities and mortals – like Achilleus, Aineias, Sarpedon, and Helen – or descended from gods a few generations back – like Tlepolemos. (No one with any mortal blood inherits immortality, however.)

The form of worship that this gives rise to is usually less about following a code of morality than about maintaining contracts: the mortals honor the gods with sacrifices, but they expect favors in return. That said, the gods do preserve certain basic standards of human conduct, such as hospitality, the keeping of oaths, and the proper treatment of the dead.

Questions About Religion

  1. Does the Iliad portray the gods in a favorable or unfavorable light?
  2. How would the story of the Iliad be different if the gods were not involved?
  3. Some scholars have argued that the gods in the Iliad are metaphors for the processes of thought (e.g. Athene stopping Achilleus from killing Agamemnon is a metaphor for Achilleus's better judgment). Can this be true, and, if so, to what extent?

Chew on This

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

In the Iliad, honoring the gods pays off more often than not.

In the Iliad, the gods usually provide comic relief.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...

Advertisement