On a Dialogue Between Jove and Minerva in Homer’s The Iliad
· At the start of Book VIII of Homer’s Iliad, we witness a council session presided by Jove. He is peevish about the capricious interventions by the gods and goddesses in the war going on between the Trojans and the Danaans, and forbids them any further participation.
· He then feels the need to assert his authority and might over them and resorts to rhetoric: he boasts how all the gods and goddesses could not drag him out of heaven, but he could pull them all up with the earth and the sea to boot… the hyperbole goes on.
· All of the gods are frightened; they do not pause to question his motivation for restricting their participation in the war. This indicates that their rationale for interfering was itself nothing more than mere whim.
· Only Minerva, Jove’s own daughter, is unmoved by her father’s threat and asks about the fate of the Danaans, imploring him for permission, if not to be involved in the actual fighting, at least to give advice to the Argives.
· We see why Minerva is famed for her wisdom: only she sees through Jove’s piece of rhetoric and realizes that the war is not merely a board for the immortals to amuse themselves on, but that there is an actual issue at stake (Helen’s honour and liberty).
· Jove is immediately forced to concede his position and says, “I am not really in earnest, and I wish to be kind to you (Minerva).” Only Minerva is able to bring out her father’s confession, that he himself is interfering in the business of the immortals.
We see a transition, in this scene, of the position of power among the Greek gods, from those acting out of mere caprice, to one making responsible and just decisions.