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The Iliad – the Poem of Zeus

The scholarly tendency has too often weakened the conspicuous novelty and originality that characterizes Zeus in the Iliad. This book remedies that tendency and depicts the extraordinary figure of Zeus: lord (or impersonation) of lightning and thunders, exclusive master of human destiny --and therefore of human history—and chief of Olympus. This unique personality endowed with polyvalent powers represents itself the conflict between superhuman moral indifference for mortal destiny and anthropomorphic feelings for human beings: he both preordains the death of his son and weeps on his demise. Zeus embodies the Mysterium tremendum. This new Zeus cannot glance at the past image that the tradition painted of him without smiling at its simplicity and disrespect: a parodic or amusing tone surrounds him as he refers or is referred to aspects of his traditional image. The great characters of the Poem give two wise responses to Zeus, lord of destiny: "heroic death" or serene acceptance. We, the readers, are expected to react in the same way.

Author Information

Pietro Pucci, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA.
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Audience: Scholars of Classics and Greek Literature in particular.

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