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This article argues that the Iliad uses the figure of the Homeric mother, who represents both protection and destruction, as a symbol for the instability of epic warrior values. Heroes are meant to protect their cities and comrades, just as mothers are meant to protect their children. However, the warrior’s imperative to seek kleos and timē may cause him to disregard his protective role, just as mothers may subvert their life-giving function through the murder of their children. By using maternal imagery to describe warriors, the Iliad emphasizes how their competing values of kleos and protection often become mutually exclusive.