Most Greek mythologies systematically included the intervention of gods and goddesses in the matters of the mortal realm. This scenario holds true for Homer’s The Iliad, as explored in this paper. The book presents several divine interventions which result in both negative and positive outcomes for human beings. The gods chose whom to favor based on different reasons, which may not be made immediately apparent.
In the book, intervention from gods and goddesses highlights the significance of human actions. At the beginning of Book 1, “Plague and Wrath,” Apollo’s intervention on behalf of Chryses results in the series of events that constitute the narrative of the epic. Chryses travels to Greece to save Chryseis, his captive daughter who had been taken by the Greek king, Agamemnon as a trophy of war (Homer, 2019). After failing to secure his daughter through diplomacy, Chryses beseeches Apollo, who smites the Greek armies with plague and prompts Agamemnon to return Chryseis.
In this scenario, Apollo embodies a heroic figure, as his actions represent a just intervention in, otherwise, a dire situation. However, in the destruction wrought by the god, Homer presents deities as an allegoric cause for natural calamity and tragedy. Apollo delivers a harsh justice, one that is arguably rougher than the offence. In this intervention, Homer cements the interrelation between the fate of humans and the will of the gods, but in doing so, the poet also raises further questions into the presence of free will.
In conclusion, divine intervention’s perception during moral conflicts primarily serves to reconcile events with fate. The Greek plague, a tragic natural disaster, was attributed to Apollo’s wrath towards the injustice of Chryseis’ capture. Therefore, Homer uses divine intervention as a vessel through which fate manifests in human lives. This is evident in Book 1, where Apollo’s meddling catalyzes the chain of events in The Iliad, and all through Homer’s epic.
Homer. (2019). The Iliad. (S. Butler, Trans.). Project Gutenberg.