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God and Man in Homer’s Iliad, Virgil’s Aeneid, and Dante’s Inferno Essay

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God and Man in Homer’s Iliad, Virgil’s Aeneid, and Dante’s Inferno


The truest of man’s goals is to create art. Art is a by-product of the gift of man over the animals, creativity. Truly, creativity is a replication of God in man and a very possible interpretation of the Genesis 1:27 phrase “in his own image,” along with others—the possession of an immortal soul or the ability to speak. And creativity’s ultimate end product is art. And art more often than not in the history of man has led man to pay homage to his creator. Three of the classic literary artistic works of mankind, Homer’s Iliad, Virgil’s Aeneid, and Dante’s Inferno, feature—if not focus—on the deity or deities of the respective authors and their relation to the characters of the story in the interaction between the two and the worship practices of the characters.

Although religion in general can and does serve simply as background material in a work, in most if not all literary works the inclusion of a divine being as a character is so that he or she can interact with the other, non-divine, characters. A story where Apollo is present but unimportant is not traditional at all (that is to say, it is foreseeably possible, but difficult and therefore not likely, especially in a non-modern work). In the Iliad, Homer presents some of the Greek pantheon—Zeus, Hera, Apollo, Thetis, et al—and their purpose is interaction with the human characters—Achilles, Hector, and others—but this is expected and obvious to any reader. The notability of the relations is the ease of them. Thetis is the mother of Achilles, she a god, he mortal. Athena is on the side of Achilles, and fools Hector in he and Achilles’ final battle (Il. 22). But these are common in the world of the Iliad;...


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...ity. New York: Columbia UP, 1974.

Grayson, Cecil, ed. The World of Dante. London: Oxford, 1982.

Homer. The Iliad. Trans. Robert Fagles. The Norton Anthology of World Literature.
6th ed. Vol. 1. Ed. Maynard Mack, Bernard M. W. Knox, John C. McGalliard, P. M. Pasinetti, Howard E. Hugo, Patricia Meyer Spacks, René Wellek, Kenneth Douglas, Sarah Lawall. New York: Norton, 1992. 98-208.

Jebb, R. C. Homer: An Introduction to the Iliad and the Odyssey. Port Washington,
Slatkin, Laura M. The Power of Thetis. Berkeley: U of California P, 1995.

Virgil. The Aeneid. Trans. Robert Fitzgerald. The Norton Anthology of World
Literature. 6th ed. Vol. 1. Ed. Maynard Mack, Bernard M. W. Knox, John C. McGalliard, P. M. Pasinetti, Howard E. Hugo, Patricia Meyer Spacks, René Wellek, Kenneth Douglas, Sarah Lawall. New York: Norton, 1992. 98-208.
NY: Kennikat Press, 1969.


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