After reading the epic poem Iliad, I feel a little sad because the writer ignores the women in the story. He doesn’t tell anything about the women how they feel when they were abducted by other people. For instance, the writer doesn’t tell us how Helen, Chryseis, and Briseis felt when they were taken away from their home. Since the beginning of the world, the women have been neglected by other people. Women don’t get respect from their society; no one cares about them.  However, the amazing thing is that they never fought for their rights. This is the main reason that they are lagging behind the men. Consequently, men are exploiting women and don’t give equal rights to them. We can see their condition by these two examples:

Firstly, Agamemnon refused to ransom Chyseis, his prize, so Achilles said that if he returned the prize (a woman), all armies would collect and redistribute their prizes and he would get three or four times more than the previous one. Just think about the conditions of women in that age when women didn’t have any choice for their husbands. They were distributed like objects; anyone could take advantage of them. However, no one took action against their acts. Many goddesses could have removed this bad social practice, but they hadn’t come forward.

Secondly, in our religious book Ramayana, the wife of Rama, protagonist of the story, had been kidnapped by Ravan, antagonist of the story. Therefore, there was a great war between them and Rama won the war. When his wife came out from Ravan’s prison, Rama said to give Agnipariksha (sit on the fire to make someone pure) to his wife.  He didn’t believe his wife whether she was pure or not. If she had not been pure, then she would have burnt on the fire. At that time, his wife didn’t object to this, and silently sat on the fire to show her purity. If she had objected to him, many women would have gotten courage from that to fight against the discrimination and injustice towards them.

These two incidents are not closely related to each other, but they give the idea that women’s conditions could have been better if our ancestors had taken actions against these customs. However, now women have the same positions as of men. They have made their positions in our society.

Which Ones are the Real, Gods?

       The Iliad is an epic poem written by Homer which explains the incidents of the Trojan War. This epic was written around 3195 years ago. It was a war between the Greeks and the Trojans. The main cause of the war is the abduction of Helena, wife of Menelaus, by Paris, a Trojan. In order to get back their queen from Troy, the Greeks invade Troy where there are many interventions by the gods. This epic introduces the meaning and traits of the gods at that time. It is different from what we believe now. I, too, have my own perspective in how a god ought to be according to its appearance and power. 

My concepts and beliefs related to the gods have been solidified due to the teachings of my religion and my parents’ beliefs. However, it is different from the gods of ancient Greece. I have always believed that the gods are invisible and the concept of the gods is a belief to continue your life in a specific way. Nonetheless, the gods of that time were visible to some people who they could interact with. For instance, Achilles, a soldier of Greece, has a conversation with Athena, the Goddess of wisdom, crafts and battle. In addition, our prayer does not have any relation with what we are offering to the gods in order to reach them. We just pray with a thought that the gods would help to make our wish come true. In ancient times, if one was to offer something to the gods which would make them happy, then the wishes were to come true. In this case, the gods of that time seem to be selfish whereas the gods at the present time who are meant to endure their life in giving rather than taking have been altruistic gods. Another comparison is that the gods of Greek, at that time maintained internal politics in order to get victory as well as accomplish one’s plans, but what I know is that gods have the purest heart which is full of love and respect for each other.  For an example, in Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama never played tricks which could hurt anyone but respected all beings. Therefore, gods in ancient times were like human beings having a nature with greed, rivalry, and selfishness, but today’s gods are opposite, an epitome of goodness.

Similar Literatures

While reading the Iliad by Homer, I found the poem so similar to a poem that not only me but many Persian people are grown up with, the Shahname.

Shahname is one of the greatest masterpieces in Iran’s literature. Hakim Abul-Ghasem Frowsy dedicated thirty years of his life (979-1010 A.D) to make such an astonishing 60,000-verse piece. Shahname is divided into three parts: first part, the mythical age, is the explanation of how the world and human came to existence and then talks about the first men who became the kings of the world and how human started to make home, discovered fire and developed civilization. The second part, which is the heroic age of the Shahname, deals with stories of the great pahlavanan, the knights or heroes, of Iran and their extraordinary power. The third part, the historical age, explains about the history of Iran from Ashkanian dynasty until the time when Islam enters Iran. The second part of the Shahname is where we can find many commonalities with the Iliad.

However unlike the Iliad, whose characters are gods and goddesses, Frowsy has chosen his characters human beings, the characteristics and the suggested messages are quiet similar to each other. Likely to Iliad, the Shahname has super power antagonists who are fighting with each other every time. For example, the same as Achilles, Esfandyar in the Shahname is the hero that his mother washes his body in a magical spring in order to keep him powerful and undying, but when he is under the water, fearing from water he closes his eyes and that makes his weak point (like Achilles and his heel). The Hector of the Shahname is Siavush, a handsome and noble pahlavan that before his birth the predictors had predicted him as someone who brings destruction and bad luck. Siavush’s father, Keikawus, is an obstinate and selfish king. He kills many people for his hunger for power.

Other than same characters, the Iliad and the Shahname try to show the people’s believe in unchangeable fate and destiny. Even after Esfandyar washes his body in the magical water to save his life, the death does not leave him alone. Esfandyar gets killed by his father-in-law, like Hercules who finally dies. The other tangible similarity is the struggle between good and bad during the story. The good and the bad might be the inner thoughts of the characters or the devils or the cruel god or the monster or Simorq (a kind on bird which is the symbol of knowledge in Persian literature).

Learning the similarities we find not only the Iliad and the Shahname but also many other stories and poems which have been inherited orally are similar to each other.