Human Agency In The Iliad

504 Words3 Pages
The interpretive concept of human agency is a topic greatly referenced to by Homer in the Iliad. Agency can be defined as the capacity to act in ways that matter, insofar as they act autonomously and without the determining of outside forces (gods, force, fate, etc). Reason, deliberation, and judgments are traits needed to assert free will, and in the Iliad many characters do not exercise them fully due to divine intervention. Such passage where we can see conflicting human agency at play is Book 3 lines 428-524; it expresses a short conflict between the mortal Helen and the goddess Aphrodite. Aphrodite has just saved Paris from getting beaten by Menelaus in a duel, and is now looking for Helen so she can take her to her husband. However, Helen knows Menelaus is the true winner and begins to make rants about Paris and taunt Aphrodite, who does not take this lightly. Even though Aphrodite’s threat extremely restrains human agency, Helen tries to exercise free will, as evidenced by her worrying for her own reputation in the high ranks of Trojan society, and by ardently…show more content…
Upon discovering she was hiding under a disguise, she exclaimed, “Maddening one, my Goddess, oh what now? Lusting to lure me to my ruin yet again? Where will you drive me next?” (3.460-462). Helen’s sarcastic tone and bringing up of past personal and historical facts reveal her ongoing introspection, and let the readers know that she feels like Paris’ slave. She then taunts Aphrodite by suggesting she put herself in her shoes, “Well, go to him yourself – you hover beside him! Abandon the gods’ high road and be a mortal!” (3.470-471). Helen asks Aphrodite to take her position as a mortal and be with Paris, whom she seems to really care about. This expression of human agency angers Aphrodite though, and Helen must deal with the consequences of her own

More about Human Agency In The Iliad

Open Document