The Iliad is a testament to the Greek ideals of war and glory, as it fantasizes the glorious triumphs of Achilles and the Trojans. Famous for his rage made apparent in the opening of the poem, Achilles is the greatest warrior in all of Greece, and his competence and skill are a main driver of the story portrayed and the decisions of the protagonist. While the importance of honor and glory through war is the most important part of Greek society, and the Iliad, I assert that Homer highlighted the true costs of these ideals through the tragedies, loss, and hardships brought on Achilles by his greed for glory and victories.
Throughout the Iliad is grotesque and shocking depictions of war, seemingly placed by Homer to cause the reader to visualize the true nature of these battles, contrary to what we see the usual fantasized images of war. By describing in great detail who is dying and how it happened, Homer brings to life the idea that these pursuits of glory are not glorious in nature but are only seen as honorable after the fact from a third party. To become a hero and to be immortalized as a true Greek means you have to act in a completely inhuman way. This idea underlines the plot of Achilles weighing whether being remembered or surviving peacefully through a battle he is not invested in is the most important.
Hector description of morality and glory is highlighted in Achilles’ going against what the reader would expect from a hero in his treatment of Hector’s body. Fueled by rage and vengeance, Achilles defiles Hectors body by dragging it back and forth and mistreating it completely in terms of Greek burials and death. So much so that the gods must intervene and protect Hectors body from being destroyed and abused. By bringing in intervention from the gods to protect a corpse from Achilles’ actions, Hector sets the stage for how wrong and gruesome war can be. In the Iliad, Achilles is bound by fate to succeed for the most part. The gods aid him in many ways to further the destiny of Achilles except for this moment. This is a very important scene in the poem that almost seems like the gods are questioning who they are supposed to be supporting. The actions of Achilles paint him as a inhumane maniac overcome with vengeance.
To sum up, I have argued that the true nature of the Iliad is an example of an epic directly contrasting the culture and ideals it is usually said to praise. Homer’s vivid descriptions of battles and scenes with the gods seem to go against everything the Greeks hold dear. Even though Achilles is the most written about character, Hector seems to become the true embodiment of Greek ideology and is the last person to be written about. Maybe the poem is a cautionary tale depicting Achilles as the Greek hero pushed off course from his own ideals, and we should view Hector as the true Greek.