The Olympian gods and goddesses delineated in The Iliad

Question: Discuss the Olympian gods and goddesses delineated in “The Iliad” The Olympian gods and goddesses delineated in The Iliad.


Gods and Goddesses play an important role in Homer‘s “Iliad”. No traditional stories in ancient Greece were imaginable without gods and goddesses. As one of the forefathers of Greek literature, Homer represents Olympian gods and goddesses in an extraordinary way.

Same feelings like human beings

In Homer’s “Iliad”, Olympian gods and goddesses experience the same emotions of love, hatred, revengefulness, jealousy, and antagonism, etc. as human beings. The main difference between gods and goddesses and human beings is that the deities have the power to control the course of events while human beings cannot do so generally. Actually, Homer has given individual features of gods and goddesses in his prominent epic.


As we know that the destructive trojan war took place between the Trojans and the Achaeans that is why Homer’s gods and goddesses maintain partiality. Hera who is the queen of Olympian gods and goddesses wants to ruin the trojans because Paris rejected her bribe to make a decision in her favor in the beauty contest. Athena who is the goddess of wisdom and war goes against Paris since Paris also rejected her to declare the winner of the beauty contest. On the other hand, Aphrodite who is the goddess of beauty wishes to defend Paris because Paris declared her winner. Thus, even goddesses possess human qualities.

Familial quarreling

Gods in “The Iliad” quarrel like mortal families do. After a day’s work, they enjoy ambrosia that means evening meal, and imbibe nectar that means drink. They are engaged in teasing, fond of entertainment, and go to bed with their spouses. They interact with humans and even exchange hot words with them. Human beings do not often respect the gods and goddesses while talking to them. Thus, when Aphrodite asks Helen to make love with Paris, Helen refuses and says to Aphrodite in anger.

“No, go and sit with him yourself. Forget you are a goddess. Go and pamper him and one day he may make you his wife or his concubine.”

Concerned with human affairs

Gods are very much concerned about human affairs. Humans worship gods or offer sacrifices to them and in exchange, they get support. In Book 1, when Apollo’s priest Chryses was in trouble and failed to ransom his daughter from Agamemnon, he prayed to Apollo to rescue his daughter. Apollo helps Chryses to get back his daughter.


All the gods and goddesses in “The Iliad” do not hesitate to take part in the war directly though none of them is a good fighter on the battlefield. Their direct participation in the war often makes them funny and ridiculous. In Book XX1, gods fought among themselves. For example, Athena defeats Ares and Aphrodite. Hera drives Artemis from the battlefield and Poseidon challenges Apollo. It is proven that one of the seven sins of the world is revenge that is out and out present in the gods and goddesses.


Homeric gods are immortals but they are subject to undergo suffering. In Book V, we know that Aphrodite is stabbed by Diomedes. Diomedes pierces her flesh. Aphrodite gives a piercing scream and dropped her son. In the same book, Diomedes with the help of Athena also stabs the war god Ares who also gives yells loudly. Thus, it is proved that Homeric gods and goddesses suffer from human suffering.


Thus, in the “Iliad” Homer’s gods form a society or an organization. They display the behavior of all kinds of people. They can be loving and generous, wise, and tolerant. These can be based, agile, and disgusting and they can be quick to rage. This treatment of the Olympian deities of the “Iliad” is perfectly Homeric.

Biswazit Kumar
Biswazit Kumar
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