I just finished reading this and I'm wondering the role of the Gods in the story.
From what I've gathered: The existence of Gods in the story is questionable, even in the context of the mystical universe of the Iliad.
The Gods always take the form of someone else, and the characters make assumptions: "You're identical to someone I know, but surely it must be a God in disguise". I can accept that a God could take the aspect of someone else, but in the same way it's also possible, and it's a much simpler explanation, that it really is the person that is talking to them, and not any God. Homer, however, insists that it really was a God.
Another way Gods manifest themselves is to help a warrior in battle. They are always invisible, but Homer swears they are there, whenever a warrior goes on a killing spree or performs one amazing feat. Isn't it much more likely that the warrior was simply "having a good day" or was particularly excited at that moment?
Even though Homer is always talking about the Gods, what they are doing in Mt. Olympus, and how they are the cause of pretty much everything, the way some passages are written makes me feel like Homer didn't buy any of that and in a certain way was criticizing the naivete of the Greeks and their religion.
Is this ambiguity intentional and I'm dumb for taking so long to get it, or am I overthinking this and Homer was just writing some good ol' fiction with some good ol' Gods screwing everyone over?
I'm slightly talking out of my ass, but I'd wager the Gods (who treat the war as a game) represent how men are merely toys of fate.
But no, Homer didn't do some postmodern "IT WAS ALL IN THEIR IMAGINATION" shit imo.
Its a fictional tale based on an allegedly real battle, even to Homer.
The Greeks did believe the gods existed and interacted with people in that way.
You are looking at it with too modern of a perspective.
If you know your mythology, you'd know that Greek Gods do some scary shit to mortals, which makes them afraid of them. They need to be disguised in order to persuade them and get them to follow fate.
My first reaction is like
but there is something interesting about Homer's relationship with the gods. Presumably he (and/or some other bard) actually sat down and thought 'so then the king of the gods says... and the other god replies...'
It's pretty fascinating that they were apparently able to treat a god as a character in a work of art, giving them lines and actions, without it feeling impious. In the present day I'd say anyone writing an account of what a god said or did would have to be either an unbeliever, or genuinely convinced that what they were writing was the absolute truth.
You're overthinking it; whether Homer *literally* believes *everything* he was saying is irrelevant, and whether it was all *fiction* to him is just as irrelevant.
1) Consider rather what the suggestion would be about, say, life. Not just life--YOUR life. What does the Iliad say that would have bearing upon your life?
2) Notice that the gods are still bound by fate--Zeus would love to change some shit, but that can't happen. That is, we have some hierarchies: Fate puts limits upon what the gods may do, and the gods are ultimately determinative of what happens in the human sphere.
3) Look at this shit. The ridiculous thing about the human sphere is how confused everyone is: everyone's absolutely sure that they're do what they're doing for their own reasons, or that they reasonably understand what's happening around them, but look how often some one makes an assessment about something that turns out to not be the case, since the narrative's own actual explanation is "Athena did it" (or whoever).