Love, Forgiveness, and “The Iliad”

“For all the battle scenes, violent sex, and rage that fills [The Iliad], the most memorable scenes in the poem are moments of love—especially loving moments of embrace.”

Befitting Holy Week, here is an essay of mine concerning the themes of love and forgiveness in the very source of Western literature: The Iliad. Deconstructing Homer’s use of language, imagery, archetypes, and the metamorphic journey of Achilles, I argue in this essay (as I’ve written elsewhere) that Homer’s epic is a “love epic on a cosmic scale.”

Homer’s monumental epic is a grueling pilgrimage through storm, trial, and strife; it is an epic pilgrimage through bloodshed, horror, and war. The end of the Iliad is peace, a peace brought about by that most heroic act of compassionate forgiveness. As the poem comes to an end, Troy still stands, and peace between bitter enemies is where Homer leaves us. Rather than fall back into the rage and hatred that killed so many, Homer leaves us the message that compassion and forgiveness (and how they are often intertwined) are the cornerstones on which international love are to be built. Nearly three millennia later, Homer’s message still reverberates and is even more relevant now than in times past.

Read the full essay here: Achilles, Priam, and the Redemptive Power of Forgiveness, Merion West, 6 April 2020.

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