Study Guide

The Iliad Hate

By Homer


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In the world of the Iliad, hate is viewed as such a powerful force that it even gets personified as a divinity. The goddess Hate (worst goddess ever) makes her appearance when Zeus sends her down to the battle at the beginning of Book 11; as soon as she appears, she makes the Achaians more eager for battle than to go home to their families.

What makes hate so frightening is that people seem to enjoy being in the grip of it; in his hatred of Agamemnon, Achilleus feels that his anger is sweeter to him than honey. This same hate can inspire truly fearsome acts, such as Achilleus's behavior towards Hektor towards the book's end. And yet, as the poem's closing scenes show, hate is not unstoppable.

Questions About Hate

  1. What is the effect on the poem of having Hate personified as a goddess?
  2. Why does Achilleus argue that hate can make anger sweeter than honey?
  3. To what extent are Achilleus's actions motivated by self-hatred?

Chew on This

In the Iliad, hate arises from personal causes more than political or national ones.

Unlike love or pride, which can have good sides and bad sides, the Iliad portrays hate as an entirely negative emotion.

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