The Relationship Between a Mortal and Immortal in the Iliad

The Iliad contains a lot of conflict, war and plotting involving humans (mortals) and gods (immortals). The traditional sense of religion, considers a supreme being the protector of humans and that he intervenes when things go wrong to set them right. However, in the Iliad, Homer takes a different approach. The people perceive the gods as puppet masters and spectators than protectors.

The gods sit on the pedestal, a high point from which they just watch as humans collide and wage war against each other without caring much. Most of the conflicts among humans occur due to influence of the gods for their own personal motives. They exist in a magnificent setting where almost everything is golden even the floors. The humans exist in a world with war, death and suffering. The gods adopt some human traits, some of which one would not expect from a god in a typical traditional setting. They plot schemes of vengeance, they use mind games for personal gain, seduction and even bribery.

Everything that happens in the sphere of the humans' existence depends on the gods. The anger of the gods lead to humans going to war and this can only be avoided if the gods have a liking for the human beings. This leads to some humans having physical relations and affairs with the gods. For instance, Aphrodite saves Paris because she helped her win the contest at Mt. Ida. In the same way, Hera asks Zeus not to end the Trojan war because she is angry with the Trojans, she even offers to let him destroy her favorite towns just as long as he does not end the war.

From a human perspective, humans consider the gods as helpers who reward those who worship them and offer sacrifices to them, unaware that most of the problems are a result of interference by the gods.

In conclusion, the Iliad sets up the human world as a mere playground for the gods in which they can change the situations in whichever way they want without caring about the consequences to the humans. While the humans think of the gods as their helpers in time of great need, the humans are simply tools for the gods to use, for vengeance, for glory, for passion or only for entertainment.