The Sun God's Sensitivity and Selfishness. The Trojan War Essay Example

In Homer's poem Iliad, the gods are perceived as perfect, all-powerful beings on the surface. However, their interference with the Trojan war reveals hidden qualities. These toxic characteristics prove they are not perfect and cause them to do cruel acts against humans, and they continue these traits because they do not understand mortals nor consequences. The Trojan war is chaotic for both mortals and gods, so humans do not question the gods' inhumane acts; toxic characteristics are widespread. For example, the god Apollo demonstrates the harmful traits of oversensitivity and selfishness.

Apollo reveals his tendency to be easily offended in the first book. The god creates conflict among Agamemnon and Achilles: "Which of the immortals set these two / At each other's throats? / Apollo, Zeus' son and Leto's, offended" (1.8-12). Apollo is insulted by Agamemnon's action, which does not affect him; his solution is to create unnecessary conflict. Before Apollo plagues the Greek army, the god "descended Olympus' crags / Pulsing with fury" (1.52-53). His reaction to this situation is overdone, being livid over an action that does not threaten him. Apollo punishes the Greeks by plaguing them: "Nine days the god's arrows rained death on the camp" (1.61). Instead of communicating his dislike of their actions, the god resorts to death to show his unsolicited hatred. Apollo demands Chryseis' return to her father, or else "He will not lift this foul plague from the Greeks" (1.103).

Even though this grudge is deadly, Apollo lets his oversensitive emotions rule, making the humans upset, but expecting them to do what he wants. Apollo refuses to let up unless the Greeks appease him by "return[ing] [Chryses'] child" and performing a "Formal sacrifice" (1.468-469). Apollo forces humans to face the consequences of his actions and then bear them the responsibility of stopping him from continuing his rage. The god is finally satisfied: "A paean as they danced, and the god was pleased" (1.503). Only when people perceive Apollo in a positive light he is at ease; any negative attention causes him to act out rashly. Apollo's lack of control over his oversensitive tendencies causes death and destruction.

The god's other toxic characteristic of selfishness is shown later in the poem. Phoenix tried to stop Achille's grudge with a story and mentioned that "Phoebus Apollo, had stolen [a] daughter" (9.580). Despite Apollo stealing a girl, he punishes the Greeks for doing the same as him. When Zeus sends Apollo to fortify Hector, Apollo says," 'no one less than me"' (15.257). Apollo, instead of focusing on Hector as Zeus asks, takes the time to take pride that Zeus chose him to revive Hector. After Patroclus skims the Trojan wall the third time, Apollo taunts, "'Get back, Patroclus, back where you belong"' (16.740). Apollo's favoring of Troy gives him a reason to assert unnecessary power over a mortal, even when Troy is fated to fall.

The god "[finds] the space between [Patroclus'] shoulder blades" to push him down, leading to his death (16.831). Although Patroclus was fated to die anyway, Apollo intervened in the war to quicken Patroclus's death for himself, finding the most vulnerable place on Patroclus' back to shove him. Apollo, disguised as Aegor, tricks Achilles by turning him away from the wall, saying," 'You'll never catch me, man chasing god" (22.12). The god is aware of how angry Achilles is and purposely manipulates Achilles' rage, taunting him to distract him from Apollo's favored Trojans. When Athena tells Achilles to go and fight Hector, she tells him he will win, and Hector will lose nevertheless: "Not even if my brother Apollo has a fit / And rolls on the ground before the Almighty" (22.247-248). Athena knows her brother will do anything he can to get what he wants; throwing a tantrum is not discounted if it means the Trojans may win. After "Hector's doom sank down," Apollo "left him" (22.339-240). Apollo's connection to belittling Greek heroes is gone, so he cannot bully skilled warriors for fun after Hector's death. Mocking strong warriors and bragging about his abilities to maintain his power show how selfish Apollo is.

Although Homer writes the gods to be seemingly all-powerful and perfect, this is far from the truth. Because the gods are immortal, they do not understand consequences. Apollo never comprehends his abuse of power by harassing mortals for his satisfaction and becoming easily offended when they do not love him. This leads to many deaths and draws out the length of the Trojan war. Apollo in the Iliad shows how influential role models can have harmful traits that the admirer cannot see at first glance.