HERA

Hera, wife of Zeus, is one of the great troublemakers in the Iliad. Her anger and trickery keep things moving any time they threaten to go slack. She resents Zeus and his power as much as she may love him, but she has found ways of circumventing his will. She supports Achilleus chiefly because she loathes the Trojans — evidently because Paris insulted her by choosing Aphrodite as the loveliest of the immortals. She lies to both Zeus and Aphrodite to get her way, and her eye is that of a relentless housewife who does not miss a thing.

POSEIDON

Poseidon is the god of the sea and is also known as the shaker-of-the-earth.

He sides with the Achaians and bristles under the authority of his older brother, Zeus. He is extremely powerful, and when he commits himself to battle it feels as if the earth were coming apart.

THETIS

Divine mother of Achilleus, Thetis is emotional and devoted to her son. She pleads his case before Zeus and is ever-watchful from her domain in the sea. She knows of Achilleus’ fated death and mourns him before he has actually died. As fiercely protective of her son as Hekabe is of Hektor, she arranges for Hephaistos to craft divine armor for Achilleus. In her sea caves she is surrounded by the company of the Nereids, the sporting sea nymphs.

ZEUS

Zeus, the most powerful god of all — and quick to let everyone know it — is, in a way, the author of the poem. His plan to bring about the redemption of Achilleus really creates the plot structure. Zeus is the great sky god, one of the powerful second generation of Greek deities who took over the world from its primal forces. His father was Kronos, and his brothers are Poseidon and Hades. Among the immortals, his will is absolute; not absolute enough, however, to prevent him from being tricked by his wife Hera when she sets her mind to it. He has a fierce and merciless vengeance, and his will is crossed only at great peril. The face he shows to mortals is usually one of thunder and lightning, though he can also communicate via bird omens, usually in the form of an eagle. He tolerates the squabbles and feuds of the other gods and goddesses as if they were all his children. He demands — and rewards — absolute respect. He may or may not be able to influence fate, but he certainly has the scales in his possession.

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