It can be argued that war is celebrated in The Iliad. We see that characters are portrayed as worthy or the reverse on the basis of how competent and brave they are in battle. For instance, Paris hates fighting and as a result of this he is held in scorn by his family and lover. By contrast, Achilles achieves eternal glory through his rejection of a comfortable and long but uneventual life in his hometown. It seems that the text promotes this way of judging character, and that it even uses it to appraise the worth of the gods. The epic presents Athena and other warlike gods to be admired by the reader, while it pokes fun at gods who flee from war. He utilizes Aphrodite and Artemis’ timidity to establish comic relief. Proving one’s integrity and honor seems to require warfare, and it appears that avoiding fighting is proof of inappropriate priorities, fear, and laziness.
Certainly, The Iliad pays due attention to war’s realities. Men suffer terrible deaths, and women are forced to be concubines or slaves and taken away from their parents. The Achaean army suffers a plague, and many men are decimated because of it. These horrors could cause even the strongest warrior to feel fearful, and Homer informs us that both armies wish that the war ever begun. While Achilles says that all men, both cowardly and brave, must die in the end, the work never makes the reader question the relevance and legitimacy of war. Homer refrains from implying that fighting wastes human life or time. Instead, he shows each side as possessing a justification for war and portrays warfare as respectable and potentially glorious.