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Research Paper Topics For The Iliad

Great Essay Topics For The Iliad: 10 Ideas To Consider

The Iliad has been passed down for millennia, and is thought to have been told orally long before it was written down by the mysterious Greek poet Homer. Recorded by Homer during the Greek Archaic Age, The Iliad is one of mankind’s oldest war stories, an epic tale of battle and intrigue full of larger-than-life heroes and mischievous gods. It’s a huge, expansive epic poem, with dozens of human and divine characters. There are many situations, characters, and themes to explore in this venerable tale, so coming up with essay topics for the Iliad isn’t as hard as you might think.

Here are ten ideas to consider for an essay about the Iliad:

  • What role does Fate play in the Iliad, both in terms of the outcome of the Trojan War, and in terms of the destinies, emotions, and psychology of the individual characters?
  • Discuss the nature, role, and “heroic code” characteristic of the Homeric hero.
  • Discuss the portrayal of father-son relationships in The Iliad, referencing the relationship between Priam and Hector as well as the relationship between Achilles and Peleus.
  • Discuss the actions and motivations of divine figures in The Iliad.
  • Discuss the Homeric portrayal of “kleos,” the concept of glory that is earned through heroic battle.
  • Discuss the Homeric theme of respect or honor (“timê”) earned through a man’s lifetime of cultural accomplishments.
  • Discuss the theme of wrath in The Iliad.
  • Is Achilles a sympathetic character? Discuss his personality, characterization, and motivations, such as the concept of “The Wrath of Achilles” that permeates the epic.
  • Discuss the Iliad’s portrayal of female characters, both human and divine.
  • Discuss the role of vanity, wrath, and personal gain in the reasons for the Trojan War
  • Discuss the roles of the Gods as agents of fate, including the fact that they themselves are fully subject to Fate.
  • What is the “moral” of the Iliad? What is its statement about human nature?
  • Compare aspects of the Iliad, like literary style and the role of the gods, with The Odyssey.
  • Discuss the role of Zeus (or another major divinity) in the story.
  • Discuss the events and themes surrounding the death of Patroclus, Achilles’ close companion.
  • Compare styles and themes in The Iliad with a later epic poem, such as the Aeneid or Dante’s Inferno.

These ten ideas are just a small sample of possible essay topics for the Iliad. It’s such a rich, multifaceted, and expansive work that the possibilities are nearly endless. Whatever topic you choose to write about, make sure it’s at least interesting to you, and you’ll do a great job.

Topic #1

The gods are discussed in the Iliad nearly as much as the mortals, and their actions are vital to the plot. Analyze the role of the gods throughout the work using specific examples to support your conclusions.

I. Thesis Statement: The gods in the Iliad serve as the instruments of fate, stepping into the mortal arena when necessary to insure that fate’s purposes are served.

II. The nature of fate as seen in the Iliad
A. Zeus’ scales of fate
B. Actions with inevitable consequences
C. Danger of overstepping fate

III. The gods’ interaction with men
A. Gods sent as messengers to mortals to influence decisions
B. Revelations of fate to mortals by gods
C. Whisking of warriors away from danger

IV. Limitations put on the gods by fate
A. The desires of the gods that are sometimes in conflict with fate
B. Gods deceiving and defying Zeus, and the consequences

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