"Homer has done his best to make the men of the Trojan war gods, and the gods men" (Longinus) Discuss this statement.
Troy is a heroic world, centred on the battlefield, where human worth is utmost and measured by the very warriors who dominate it. A place where "the spirits of death stand close beside us/ in their thousands" and the heroes compete with the ultimate risk to win glory, The Iliad is very much a poem about the grimness of mortality. Running along side this and occasionally dabbling in it is the world of the immortal and everything that is divine, the gods "who have their homes on Olympos". .
The gods are an integral pert of The Iliad, they not only provide the traditional mythological background but they also dictate the action of the poem. For instance in book fourteen, Hera deceives Zeus into sleep, which causes Trojan successes to be reversed and in book fifteen, Zeus reawakens and causes the Trojans to pursue the Greeks back to the ship once again. Also, scenes such as in book one where we see Zeus and Heras domestic carry on, add a much needed entertaining and comic dimension to the real battle ensuing on the mortal plane.
In general, I agree that superficially, Homer does "do his best to make the men of the Trojan War gods, and the Gods men". The gods are physically and socially similar to men, there is evidence that they share the same desires as men, for glory and also sexually. On a literal level there are the warriors epithets, "godlike" and incidentally there are those in the poem who are more "godlike" than others, the children of gods such as Achilleus, Aineias and Sarpedon.
In this essay I will discuss these points; however I do believe that Homer does not do this simply to exult the deeds of men to god like status or to demean the gods. Rather he subtly uses the similarities to highlight the essential difference between gods and men: this being the nature of the human condition.