This paper describes some of the most significant episodes in the Iliad and suggests and that the alien world it presents to our contemporary eyes may be relevant to us and our students in unexpected ways. The world of the Iliad can be recognized as one in which a great civilization and city are disintegrating in the face of war and barbarism. Its heroes must choose between law and reason on the one hand and the morality of the street gang on the other. Everywhere in the Iliad we are reminded of the irrational rage of war that reduces its victims, men or women, to objects of fury, possessions, robs them of life and humanity. Out of the inhumanity of war come tragic death and only momentary examples of compassion, but these scenes of compassion confer humanity and individuality on the characters. It may be with relief that we turn from the Iliad to the sundrenched verses of the Odyssey with its air of romance and adventure. However, portions of this appealing epic are often overlooked, particularly its abrupt and unresolved conclusion.
This article is based on a lecture delivered at the The Greeks Institute, a series of lectures presented to secondary school teachers in the Bridgeport Public Schools during the spring of 1989. Co-sponsored by the Connecticut Humanities Council, Sacred Heart University, and the Bridgeport Public Schools, the purpose of the institute has been to provide teachers with an interdisciplinary exploration of classical Greece for the purposes of professional enrichment and curriculum development.
"Reflections on Homer's Iliad and Odyssey,"
Sacred Heart University Review: Vol. 9
, Article 6.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.sacredheart.edu/shureview/vol9/iss2/6