Some Thoughts on The Iliad

I have just barely made it to Book 17 and I have noticed some things. That is a very bland set of words, so allow me to elaborate.

First, any one person who has ever had the time to read this book, or at the very least, taken the time to read about it, will notice that this isn’t just some low-profile story of Trojans versus Achaians — this is a bloody, gory, very much adult rendition of the detailed accounts of lives lost during the Trojan war. Mind you, I’m not quite one to really care much for warfare, but reading one of the greatest classical pieces of literature from the hands of an obscure figure who, throughout history, can only be described as the author of the Homeric poems and not a person who had been known by any birth or death date; well, it really changes how politics can really twist something today to start a war, where a simple kidnapping imperiled the lives of many thousands of warriors during the ten-year period of warfare described in the Iliad. This isn’t quite a synopsis, but rather, a collection of thoughts that passes through my mind at various times while reading this book.

Now, invariably it seems as the gods interfere heavily to change the outcome of the battles taking place throughout the story. Zeus, Hera, Athene — they all perform some kind of key role in some battles. And it seems as if there are areas where they had intervened a man’s death by doing something. Whatever it is, I can’t quite describe much.

A death in The Iliad is described in just about all types of detail — the severing of the tendons in the neck, a head falling in front of a body before the knees even hit the ground, an eyeball at the end of a spear, eyes popping out from a smash of a rock, brain batter, guts, blood — almost nothing is spared from details. But, I do notice almost one recurring theme — death.

No, this is not the death that you and I would take at face value when reading. “Oh, so this guy had something deadly happen to him and he died. The end.” No. What I’m talking about is “the darkness of mist closing over the eyes.” This happens to be mentioned in every book (or chapter, as I recognize it to be considered given that the entirety of the compilation of books happen to make up a singular book). Unfortunately, a long and tedious search of these phrases have brought up metal bands, group names, or other related types of associations with the dark and dreary. But along these searches, I did happen upon one unique search phrase — ectoplasm. When I searched to see if this might have been associated with Homer’s epic poems, I figured out that they, in fact, are not. It doesn’t even come close.

I haven’t been able to find anything regarding the description of a mist of darkness which becomes present upon death, but I did run into a few stories where nurses for patients on their deathbeds would describe what looks like a mist emanating from the body as soon as the patient passed away. In the course of a few minutes, the mist would solidify a little more and more until it resembled almost exactly the patient, but with a look of peace on the face — a pleasant smile, no pain, and just pure joy. I also happened to find similar stories in a book I own called “You Cannot Die” written by Ian Currie ( There are plenty of stories in that book which have very similar circumstances, or at the very least, something to do with the experiences aforementioned. Some people totally change in the midst of seeing such activity before their very eyes. Others lose their fear of death. Some are purported to come back after passing away temporarily only to be sucked back into their bodies after watching the team of doctors perform the lifesaving surgery in a very specific manner. But the premise is the same — after death here, our consciousness lives on in a different way.

Sometimes it takes a very severe action in order to change a person, but from a narrative perspective as told in The Iliad, I’m surprised that the witness to these accounts hadn’t gone insane with the amount of human life being executed before him. But death probably had a much different impact on people than it does today when talking of stripping the life and armor from an enemy.

This was most likely a very poorly-written article because my thoughts were loosely connected. I guess that is why it’s a good idea to have an outline of what to write beforehand.