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The major theme of The Iliad is the destructive nature of excessive emotion. Achilles feels greatly wronged and insulted when Agamemnon takes Briseis from him. As a result of his excessive wrath, he refuses to return to the battlefield, an action that causes many unnecessary Greek deaths. When his closest friend Patroclos is slain by Hector, his excessive anger is substituted by excessive grief and vengeance. As a result, he continues to act in a foolhardy manner, repeatedly dishonoring the body of Hector. When Priam can no longer bear to see the mistreatment of his son's body, he humbles himself in front of Achilles and begs for the return of his son's corpse. Touched by the king's humility, Achilles weeps for Priam and for himself, finally realizing the destructive nature of his excesses.
The most significant minor theme in the poem is the destructive power of war. Throughout The Iliad, thousands of lives are lost on the battlefield, including those of many key characters, such as Patroclos and Hector. As a result, Zeus is portrayed as a concerned god, who is torn over the fighting and struggles to return harmony and balance to both the earth and his immortal realm.
The mood of the entire poem is dark and somber due to the constant fighting and death on the battlefield. In addition, the poem deals with the excessive wrath of Achilles that brings countless woes to the Greeks.