In Homer’s Iliad, every decisive turn of events is engineered by the gods of Greek Literature. Whatever the warring mortals plan or execute, it is the will of the gods. As can be seen by several instances through out the Iliad, the Greeks and Trojans often become pawns in the hands of the gods. The gods, although often as bickering and petty as those they manipulate, control the fates and forces that will decide the course of the Trojan War.
In Fagles’ masterful translation of the Iliad, Book 1 is “The Rage of Achilles,” and from the very opening lines of the epic two ideas are set forth: one, that the rage of Achilles will ultimately bring
and destruction to countless men; and two, that the will of Zeus and the gods are manipulating the emotions of the mortals to set Achilles’ rage loose. “The will of Zeus was moving towards its end,” Homer reveals, and then asks, “What god drove them to fight with such fury?”. The war, especially the final endgame that the Iliad describes, will be played out because of the gods, and not the men on the field.
Book 1 reveals that the start of this final chapter of the war opens with a plague among the Greeks. Agamemnon angers Apollo, and the god sweeps through the Greek camp. “Down he strode from Olympus’ peaks, storming at heart…the god quaked with rage…he cut them down in droves—and the corpse-fires burned on, night and day, no end in sight”. The plague causes Achilles to come out from his tent, and take up arms once again, only to quarrel with Agamemnon. By Book 9, the Greeks are in a “godsent Panic”. Agamemnon sends Ajax and Odysseus as an embassy to Achilles, to end their feud. Achilles is torn, still angered with Agamemnon, but caught in his pre-arranged destiny.