Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey

An analysis of the theme of friendship in Homer’s epics, `The Iliad` and `The Odyssey`.

This paper examines how the social structures and human values reflected in Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey are as reflective of ancient Greek culture as they are of contemporary society. It looks at how both Achilles in The Iliad and Odysseus in The Odyssey were men whose personalities were shaped by a strong sense of values, friendship, and duty to family, friends, and society and how both Achilles and Odysseus possess the qualities sought by people through time immemorial in friends.
To begin with, the very basis of the Trojan War is the betrayal of Menelaus by Paris and Helen. The epic thus starts with an abuse of love, friendship and trust on the one hand, and a war made possible only by familial and social bonds of loyalty, on the other. As Achilles reminds Agamemnon, I came not warring here for any ill the Trojans had done me. I have no quarrel with them. (The Iliad, 1.157-158) Reflecting on the nature of the familial and social bond in the Iliad, a clear parallel can be drawn to societal functioning right through the history of humanity. To identify the parallel, all that is really required is to consider the immediate rallying around and closing of ranks by family and friends, when any one member of the inner circle is threatened by an outsider, or betrayed by someone from within.