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“The Gods in the Homeric Epics” Book by Kearns

Belief in Gods was part of the culture and religion of Ancient Greece, which was reflected in sculpture, art, architecture, literature, and traditions of the population. Nevertheless, often the images of the Gods in the art are the representation of the author but not of the entire people, since rituals and beliefs may differ depending on the region. One example of such a display is Homer’s Iliad, in which the Gods play a significant role in the narrative. Kearns, in his work “The Gods in the Homeric epics,” examines the features of the behavior and images of the Gods in the Iliad and Odysseus and determines the accuracy of their representation by the concepts of the Ancient Greeks.

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The article begins with a short introduction, followed by a discussion of the Gods’ various features in the Iliad. First, Kearns connects the Gods’ role in the story with their typical images in culture and explains why some of them are central, and others are not reflected in the Iliad. For example, Zeus, Hera, and Athena are the Olympian Gods higher in the hierarchy and are also considered patrons of cities, which has given them a central place in the story. At the same time, Dionysus and Demeter are travelers and patrons of all people, so their participation in the conflict on the side of the Achaeans or Trojans would violate their image (Kearns 61). Thus, the author demonstrates that the Gods’ involvement in the story is justified by their traditional representation in culture.

Kearns further demonstrates that in the Iliadic concept, the Gods are individuals in the manner of humans and have their traits and sympathies. This idea does not coincide with traditions, since in Ancient Greece, it was normal to talk about the God of a certain sanctuary, for example, Apollo of this and that place (62). In addition, the Gods have their homes and are physically limited to travel like humans, although their speed is much higher. This feature means that the Gods are not creatures unlimited by space, which resembles humans, but they have significant powers to move quickly or hear the prayers of people across considerable distances.

The author also discusses the ways of communication between humans and Gods presented in the Iliad. Kearns speaks of such traditional channels of communication as prayer, sacrifice, dreams, and oracles, emphasizing the dominance of the Gods over humans (64-66). However, the Iliad also describes the sexual and parental relationship between humans and Gods, which shows that the heroes of that era are closer or more equal to the Gods. Kearns continues her idea of ​​the connection between humans and Gods and says that in Homer’s concept, Gods are interested in humans (66-67). In the Iliad, the Gods choose their favorites and sides, compete with each other in the arena of people, present them with gifts, or influence the situation to help or harm them. However, in the event of a real threat, the Gods go to peace because people are not worth war on Olympus (Kearns 67). Thus, the author highlights the Gods’ main features in the Iliad and Homer’s ideas about them.

After similar a brief overview of the Gods of the Odyssey, the author analyzes how Homer’s images coincide with the traditions and beliefs of Ancient Greece. Kearns finds similarities but concludes that Homer’s talks about Gods are metaphorical, and their literal perception is impossible (70). Nevertheless, this method creates conditions in which belief in the Gods of Homer can neither be denied nor given completely (Kearns 73). Thus, the author’s analysis demonstrates not only the Iliad Gods’ features but their compatibility with the realities of Ancient Greece culture.

Kearns’ work is an example of logical and constructed arguments that are relevant to the study of the Iliad and the Trojan War. First, Kearns sequentially examines the various details of the Gods and explains their role in the story by using cultural and historical knowledge. This approach is appropriate for the presentation of arguments, since, at the same time, the author often uses assumptions instead of statements, leaving room for interpretation. At the same time, Kearns cites multiple examples from the Iliad to support his arguments and ideas. For example, the author talks about Zeus’s journey to Ethiopia and Thetis’s inability to communicate with him until his return, analyzing the limited possibilities of the Gods’ moving through long distances (Kearns 63). Thus, the analysis of the text of the Iliad has the logic of construction and facts confirming the author’s conclusions.

Moreover, the author uses various sources to explore the cultural beliefs and traditions of Ancient Greece associated with the pantheon of the Gods. For example, Kearns quotes Xenophanes’ accusations of Homer and Hesiod for their misrepresentation of the Gods to highlight the difference between literature and social customs (70). In this way, the author gives confirmation of her arguments about the special style of depicting the Gods in Homer’s works, which, however, is based on the general traditions of Ancient Greece. Therefore, this article is appropriate and reliable for studying the Gods in the Iliad, since its ideas and arguments are supported by historical facts and quotes or citations from the text of Homer’s work.

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Work Cited

Kearns, Emily. “The Gods in Homeric Epics.” The Cambridge Companion to Homer, edited by Robert Fowler and Robert Louis Fowler, Cambridge University Press, 2004, pp. 59-73.

Bibliography

Kearns, Emily. “The Gods in Homeric Epics.” The Cambridge Companion to Homer, edited by Robert Fowler and Robert Louis Fowler, Cambridge University Press, 2004, pp. 59-73.

Purves, Alex. “Falling into Time in Homer’s Iliad.” Classical Antiquity, vol. 25, no. 1, 2005, pp. 179–209.

Seeskin, Kenneth R. “The Comedy of the Gods in the Iliad.” Philosophy and Literature, vol. 1 no. 3, 1977, pp. 295-306. Web.

Willcock, M. M. “Some Aspects of the Gods in the Iliad.” Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies, no. 17, 1970, pp. 1–10.

Van Erp Taalman Kip, A. Maria. “The Gods of the ‘Iliad’ and the Fate of Troy.” Mnemosyne, vol. 53, no. 4, 2000, pp. 385–402.

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StudyCorgi. (2022, March 5). “The Gods in the Homeric Epics” Book by Kearns. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/the-gods-in-the-homeric-epics-book-by-kearns/

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StudyCorgi. (2022, March 5). “The Gods in the Homeric Epics” Book by Kearns. https://studycorgi.com/the-gods-in-the-homeric-epics-book-by-kearns/

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StudyCorgi. "“The Gods in the Homeric Epics” Book by Kearns." March 5, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/the-gods-in-the-homeric-epics-book-by-kearns/.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "“The Gods in the Homeric Epics” Book by Kearns." March 5, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/the-gods-in-the-homeric-epics-book-by-kearns/.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) '“The Gods in the Homeric Epics” Book by Kearns'. 5 March.

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