Homer’s original audience would already have been intimately familiar with the story The Iliad tells. Making his characters cognizant of their fates merely puts them on par with the epic’s audience. In deciding to make his characters knowledgeable about their own futures, he loses the effect of dramatic irony, in which the audience watches characters stumble toward ends that it alone knows in advance. But Homer doesn’t sacrifice drama; in fact, this technique renders the characters more compelling. They do not fall to ruin out of ignorance, but instead become tragic figures who go knowingly to their doom because they have no real choice. In the case of Hector and Achilles, their willing submission to a fate they recognize but cannot evade renders them not only tragic but emphatically heroic.
When reading about the gods pictured by Homer, one should remember several basic facts. First, they are all immortal creatures. In other words, their veins have no blood. They are full of ichor – the divine matter. To say more, they can live without food, giving preference to ambrosia and immortal nectar. At some point Homer’s gods even “eat”. But having no McDonalds nearby, they are satisfied with the sacrifice smoke coming from the burned animal fat, offered by mere mortals. In exchange for such offerings from people, the gods are ready to provide a lot of services for human beings (for instance, giving the desired victory in the athletic contests).