A Study of How Homer Uses Figure of Speech, Imagery and Argument in the Iliad
War is most commonly thought of as a bloody and depressing state. However, in Homer’s “The Iliad” war is used by the warriors of it, searching for their own glory in these gruesome battles. Homer displays this quest for glory through heavy use of imagery, dialogue, and similes that show obvious need for glory through each warrior’s actions.
The warriors quest for glory is quite obvious in the beginning of book 17, when Euphorbus brutally murders Patroclus, and then goes on to cry out “I was the first Trojan…to spear Patroclus down… so let me seize my glory among the Trojans now”(17.15-18). From the quote it is inferred that Euphorbus feels that because of this great accomplishment (defeating one of the greek’s powerful warriors) he deserves to “seize [his own] glory” (17.17), thus completing his quest. The warriors quest for glory can also be seen when Hector “[leaps] to his chariot, flinging the burnished gear [of Patroclus] to his waiting troops to haul away to troy, trophies to be his own enormous glory” (17.144-151) Homer’s use of imagery displays that men would act in betrayal (this being Hector, taking patroclus’ armor to receive credit that Euphorbus deserved) to accomplish their quest for glory.
Not only is the warriors quest for glory related to killing powerful enemies but it could also be gained from showing expert skill and bravery. Such skill is displayed when Menelaus, attempting to seize the body of Patroclus, is depicted as “fierce as a mountain lion sure of his power, seizing the choicest head from a good grazing herd” (17.69-70). The scene portrays Menelaus’s great skill as he swoops in to capture Patroclus’ body from the fray. Menelaus does this in hopes to receive credit for his skills in retrieving the mutilated body of Patroclus. Ajax’s fearless acts towards Hector shows the bravery warrior’s go through to attempt to receive glory as “in charges Ajax, shield like a tower before him” (17.146) to “shield Patroclus round with his broad buckler, stood fast like a lion cornered round his young.”(17.151-153). This is a very noble and brave act, one that would allow Ajax to receive glory from his comrades, completing his quest.
In conclusion, Homer is able to convey the warriors quest for glory by expertly portraying the above warriors actions as they all strive to receive credit for their actions through his use of meaningful dialogue, imagery, and similes. His methods allowed him to display the warriors actions through betrayal, skill, and bravery and led to much more than a bloody and gruesome battle, but rather display a deeper characterization of some of the warriors, showing their struggles within the poem.
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