Sarpedon's View Of Autonomy In The Iliad

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Homer’s Iliad is a twenty-four book epic about the glories of the wars of mortal men and the constant machinations of the gods on Mount Olympus. Throughout the winding tale, influential characters clash verbally and physically as the ambitious Argives attempt to ransack and destroy Troy, home of the Trojans. On the surface, it seems as if The Iliad’s cast of characters act of their own volition throughout the pages upon pages of conflict and interpersonal turmoil and have the power to make decisions by themselves. However, upon closer examination, it becomes quite apparent that the scope of autonomy for said cast of characters is actually markedly narrow, and that barely anything in The Iliad is accomplished without each individual involved…show more content…
First and foremost, Patroclus has very little reason to endanger himself and waltz straight into a dangerous and protracted war beyond his sense of duty to the Argives. He could very well have continued to stay with Achilles, but the desire to keep the Argives in the war and preserve the honorable standing of his brothers-in-arms serves as the only impetus he needs to hurl himself into danger. The same explanation applies to Sarpedon; beyond his sense of duty to the Trojans, he has no reason to be locked in battle with Patroclus. To enforce the point further, Sarpedon’s introduction all the way back in book 5 is simply that of Hector’s ally: ”...I myself, Hector, your ally-to-the-death, a good long way I came from distant Lycia...” (5.549-550). His only notable character traits, in a story where even minor characters receive lengthy narratives, are simply that of a man who must defend Troy and Zeus’s…show more content…
Hera does claim that Sarpedon is “a man, a mere mortal, his doom sealed long ago” (16.524), but she speaks only in terms of humans having a lifespan, not in terms of his death at Patroclus’s hands. No prophet, oracle, or god speaks up at any point in The Iliad to specify that Sarpedon’s death is inexorably thanks to Patroclus; therefore, Zeus had free reign throughout the entire clash to spirit Sarpedon away back to Lycia, but decided against it to preserve his prestige, thus showing that even the omnipotent gods are at the mercy of their own

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