Destiny, Fate, Free Will and Free Choice in Homer's Iliad


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Fate and Destiny in Homer’s Iliad

 

 The Iliad portrays fate and destiny as a supreme and ultimate force that is decided by each man’s actions and decisions. A man’s fate lies in the consequences of his actions and decisions. A man indirectly controls his destiny by his actions and decisions. One action or decision has a consequence that leads to another action or decision. A man is born with a web of many predetermined fates and one or more destinies. A man’s decisions control which course of fate he takes so that he indirectly controls his destiny.Since all mortals die, destiny is what you have done with the fates you have been dealt, and where you have taken your life. Eventually, a man’s whole life may be traced to his very first action or decision. By stating someone’s fate as determined by their actions or decisions, fate is unbreakable, what has been done will control the present, and ultimately the future. The present is controlled by the past so that no one may escape their past decisions or actions. The underlying concept of fate is that all man are not born equal, so that fate is the limitations or abilities placed upon him.

            In The Iliad the god’s fate is controlled much in the same way as a mortal’s, except for one major difference, the immortals cannot die and therefore do not have a destiny. An immortal’s life may not be judged because they haven’t and won’t die. The gods are able to manipulate mortals fate but not their own directly. A god may inspire a mortal to do or create something that might indirectly affect the god’s fate. This reinforces the concept that no one may escape his or her actions or decisions.

            In The Iliad, the concept that all mortals share the same destiny, that is that everyone dies, introduces the values of honor and courage, and other principles of what is right and what is wrong. Courage is demonstrated unselfishness and the desire to do what is right no matter what the cost. Since all men die a man who is willing to sacrifice himself for what he believes is right shows supreme faith and moral character as well as the admirable trait of putting something else above their own life. Bravery or courage isn’t necessarily aggressiveness or rage; for instance, all of Achilles actions are referred to in the beginning as "the rage of Achilles".

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Doing such things as challenging a god might be brave, but something that is brave isn’t always honorable, while something that is honorable is always brave. The Iliad suggest that the bravest deeds are the ones in which one risks their own life for what is right and what they believe in. Two men fighting on opposite sides may consider each other honorable because both are willing to sacrifice for their causes. All men fear death, so the must consciously decide to fight for what they believe in, that which they consider supreme above all, even their own life. The greatest men are judged by whether they have a cause that they consider supreme over their own life and worth dying for. If one does not have a cause worth dying for then one does not have a cause worth living for.

            The Iliad suggests that honor must be earned from brave deeds and that those who are honorable should be revered and respected. The idea of valor and honor are ultimately a reflection of how life and death are interconnected as a part of human existence. Death is considered the passing of one’s soul from one’s body, the idea of honor comes involved because a man may lose all of his possessions in life, or death, but no one may take his honorable accomplishments from him. Others closely connect honor and death because all men die but a man who has gained honor may live through the remembrance of his brave actions. A form of immortality ultimately rewards those who do honorable things that rivals the god’s. The gods are given immortality while mortals must gain it by vicariously living through the memories of others that know of or recall their honorable actions. When someone dies doing brave things they must be honored by completing what they couldn’t, that is the basic concept of vengeance. When someone avenges a person who has been killed or wronged, they are performing honorable acts for them self and the person who was wronged. The Iliad portrays one’s death as controlled by fate, and one’s destiny ultimately controlled by one’s life and death.

 


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