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Destiny, Fate, Free Will and Free Choice in Homer’s Iliad

Fate and Destiny in Homer’s Iliad

The Iliad portrays fate and destiny as a supreme and ultimate force that is decided by each man’s actions and decisions. A man’s fate lies in the consequences of his actions and decisions. A man indirectly controls his destiny by his actions and decisions. One action or decision has a consequence that leads to another action or decision. A man is born with a web of many predetermined fates and one or more destinies. A man’s decisions control which course of fate he takes so that he indirectly controls his destiny.Since all mortals die, destiny is what you have done with the fates you have been dealt, and where you have taken your life. Eventually, a man’s whole life may be traced to his very first action or decision. By stating someone’s fate as determined by their actions or decisions, fate is unbreakable, what has been done will control the present, and ultimately the future. The present is controlled by the past so that no one may escape their past decisions or actions. The underlying concept of fate is that all man are not born equal, so that fate is the limitations or abilities placed upon him.

In The Iliad the god’s fate is controlled much in the same way as a mortal’s, except for one major difference, the immortals cannot die and therefore do not have a destiny. An immortal’s life may not be judged because they haven’t and won’t die. The gods are able to manipulate mortals fate but not their own directly. A god may inspire a mortal to do or create something that might indirectly affect the god’s fate. This reinforces the concept that no one may escape his or her actions or decisions.

In The Iliad, the concept that all mortals share the same destiny, that is that everyone dies, introduces the values of honor and courage, and other principles of what is right and what is wrong. Courage is demonstrated unselfishness and the desire to do what is right no matter what the cost. Since all men die a man who is willing to sacrifice himself for what he believes is right shows supreme faith and moral character as well as the admirable trait of putting something else above their own life. Bravery or courage isn’t necessarily aggressiveness or rage; for instance, all of Achilles actions are referred to in the beginning as “the rage of Achilles”.

Free College Essays – The Obligations of Hector in Homer’s Iliad

The Obligations of Hector in Homer’s Iliad

In Homer’s Iliad, an extremely courageous and noble character is Hector, Prince of Troy. Hector does not want war, so his decision to lead the assault on the Achaean forces may seem strange. However, if there were a noble way out of the war, Hector might have taken it. “Without a noble escape, Hector is forced to fight”(Willcock 62).

It does not seem to be rooted in his own belief that his brother Paris’ actions are worthy of defense, or that Helen is a prize absolutely worth fighting for. In fact, although he feels fraternal affection for his brother, he reviles Paris several times for his selfishness and womanizing that has brought such grief to Troy. To Hecuba, he says “A great curse Olympian Zeus let live and grow in him [Paris], for Troy and high-hearted Priam and all his sons.” (VI.334-5) He is angry at Paris, not only for the taking of Helen, but for his hiding from battle, allowing the other men of Troy to die for the trophy that Paris keeps in his bed. “You’d be the first to lash out at another — anywhere — you saw hanging back from this, this hateful war. Up with you — before all Troy is torched to a cinder here and now!” he berates Paris (VI.389-90). And later, in the heat of battle, he cries again: “Paris, appalling Paris! Our prince of beauty — mad for women, you lure them all to ruin!” (XIII.888-9)

He is not fighting, then, out of respect for his brother’s right to Helen. It is not that Hector believes that he is doing the right thing according to his own perception of the situation, only the honorable one, out of duty to country. Hector also has a personal stake in the battle — he sees fighting his hardest as the only possible means of saving his beloved wife and child. He says to Andromache: “I would die of shame to face the men of Troy . . .if I would shrink from battle now, a coward.” (VI.523-5) He goes on to evoke images of a widowed and enslaved Andromache, living far from home. However, it appears that his concern here is not entirely for her pain, but for the fact that people will speak of her as the woman whose husband, although brave, was not strong enough to fight off her day of slavery.

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