Below you will find five outstanding thesis statements for The Iliad by Homer that can be used as essay starters or paper topics. All five incorporate at least one of the themes found in The Iliad and are broad enough so that it will be easy to find textual support, yet narrow enough to provide a focused clear thesis statement. These thesis statements offer a short summary of The Iliad by Homer in terms of different elements that could be important in an essay. You are, of course, free to add your own analysis and understanding of the plot or themes to them for your essay. Using the essay topics below in conjunction with the list of important quotes from The Iliad at the bottom of the page, you should have no trouble connecting with the text and writing an excellent essay.Be sure to also look at the PaperStarter entry on The Odyssey, also by Homer.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #1: The Justification and Glorification of War in The Iliad
The backdrop and crux of action in The Iliad is war. In a sense, it seems as if Homer is glorifying war in “The Iliad” by focusing so much on it and by elevating certain fighters as heroes while minimizing losses and tragedies. Even the gods are not equal to one another in this time of war. While some gods are praised for their valor, others are criticized for their passivity and pacific preferences. By examining the attitudes toward war in The Iliad, the writer makes a case for situations in which war might be justified according to Homer.Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #2: The Vice of Pride in The Iliad by Homer
Often, what makes a tale engaging is not a character who is admirable and good, but one who is profoundly flawed. It is through such a flaw or an irremediable vice that the reader begins to understand the nature of the human condition. One of the character flaws that is prominent in The Iliad is the vice of pride. Achilles, suffering from a profound and persistent bout of hubris, is so filled with pride that he makes decisions that are literally fatal for one of his dear friends. In this essay, the problems of pride are examined, and the degree to which Achilles overcomes this vice is analyzed.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #3: The Role of Women in The Iliad
In many ways, the setting and the action of The Iliad seems like a man’s world. There are very few mortal females who play important roles in the epic. The female gods, however, seem to be more powerful than their male counterparts. By comparing and contrasting the roles of female mortals and female gods in The Iliad, we can develop an idea of what Homer considered the proper place for women during a time of war. Although we may find his ideas outdated today, they were entirely reflective of his own historical and social epoch.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #4: Supernatural Superstition in The Iliad by Homer
The roles that the gods play in The Iliad are central to the development and denouement of the plot. In a time of war, the gods seem to be more important than ever. They intercede on behalf of mortals and are rarely, if ever, neutral. In fact, many of the gods take sides in the war due to past slights and grudges that they harbor against certain mortal groups. In this paper, the writer will examine the different roles that the gods play in The Iliad, and the different meanings that they hold for the mortal characters.
Thesis Statement 5: Achilles as a Likeable Character
Because Achilles is so prideful, his decisions end up hurting other characters, even mortally so. His decision to permit Patroclus to go to battle in his own armor, for instance, results in Patroclus’s death. Despite his character flaw, Achilles is ultimately a likeable character. The reader is able to feel empathy for Achilles. Pride, after all, is not so uncommon a flaw as to be unfamiliar to the reader, and we have all made mistakes—even drastic ones—that we regret yet have difficulty admitting.
A few articles that are related to the thesis statements and important quotes from “The Iliad” by Homer listed here include: Masculinity and the Warrior Culture of The IliadThe Theme of Father Son Relationships in The Iliad and The OdysseyCharacter and Divine Influence in The Aeneid and Iliad
This list of important quotations from The Iliad by Homer will help you work with the essay topics and thesis statements above by allowing you to support your claims. All of the important quotes from The Iliad listed here correspond, at least in some way, to the paper topics above and by themselves can give you great ideas for an essay by offering quotes and explanations about other themes, symbols, imagery, and motifs than those already mentioned and explained. Aside from the thesis statements above, these quotes alone can act as essay questions or study questions as they are all relevant to the text in an important way. All quotes contain page numbers as well. Look at the bottom of the page to identify which edition of The Iliad they are referring to.
“I tried to dissuade you, but you gave in to your pride and dishonored a great man whom the immortals esteem." (Book 9, ll. 113-115)
“[S]ince I did succumb to a fit of madness, I want to make substantial amends." (Book 9, ll. 124-125)
“I hereby announce my reparations: …ten gold bars…,a dozen… Solid, prizewinning racehorses who have won me a small fortune, and seven women who do impeccable work…." (Book 9, ll. 126-131)
“Father Zeus, if I have ever helped you in word or deed among the immortals, grant me this prayer…." (Book 1, ll. 533-535)
“[W]e two, Pallas Athena and I, have taken oaths among all the immortals never to ward off doom for the Trojans, not even when the whole city goes up in flames…." (Book 20, ll. 319-322)
“You actually like fighting and war…." (Book 1, l. 187)
“[In this war,] there is no end in sight, nor has there ever been." (Book 1, l. 133)
“Think of yourself, of the regret you will feel for harm that is irreparable. This is the last chance to save your countrymen." (Book 9, ll. 252-254)
“His heart still hoped to win glory…." (Book 12, l. 428)
“Zeus and all gods: grant that this my son may become, as I am, foremost among Trojans, brave and strong…." (Book 6, ll. 500-502)
Be sure to also look at the PaperStarter entry on The Odyssey, also by Homer.
Reference: Homer. The Iliad. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 1997.
1. Is there a “heroic code” that guides the decisions of the characters in The Iliad? Discuss the values of the Homeric hero, paying particular attention to contrasting characters such as Achilles, Odysseus, Paris, and Hector. Does one character emerge as more heroic than the rest? Does one character emerge as less heroic?
2. Discuss Homer’s portrayal of the gods in The Iliad. What is their relationship with mortals? With fate? Why might Homer have chosen the gods as a frequent source of comic relief? What larger points does Homer seem to be making by depicting the gods as he does?
3. With particular attention to Priam and Hector, as well as to Achilles and Peleus, discuss how The Iliad portrays relationships between fathers and sons. In what way does ancestral loyalty affect the characters’ behavior? You may want to consider the encounter between Diomedes and Glaucus as well. How do relationships between fathers and sons differ from those between mothers and sons?
4. Does Achilles ultimately emerge as a sympathetic character? Why or why not? Use examples from the text to explain your answer.