Iliad

Iliad

Overview
The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameter
Dactylic hexameter
Dactylic hexameter is a form of meter in poetry or a rhythmic scheme. It is traditionally associated with the quantitative meter of classical epic poetry in both Greek and Latin, and was consequently considered to be the Grand Style of classical poetry...

s, traditionally attributed to Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

. Set during the Trojan War
Trojan War
In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans after Paris of Troy took Helen from her husband Menelaus, the king of Sparta. The war is among the most important events in Greek mythology and was narrated in many works of Greek literature, including the Iliad...

, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy
Troy
Troy was a city, both factual and legendary, located in northwest Anatolia in what is now Turkey, southeast of the Dardanelles and beside Mount Ida...

 (Ilium) by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon
Agamemnon
In Greek mythology, Agamemnon was the son of King Atreus and Queen Aerope of Mycenae, the brother of Menelaus, the husband of Clytemnestra, and the father of Electra and Orestes. Mythical legends make him the king of Mycenae or Argos, thought to be different names for the same area...

 and the warrior Achilles
Achilles
In Greek mythology, Achilles was a Greek hero of the Trojan War, the central character and the greatest warrior of Homer's Iliad.Plato named Achilles the handsomest of the heroes assembled against Troy....

. Although the story covers only a few weeks in the final year of the war, the Iliad mentions or alludes to many of the Greek legends about the siege, the earlier events, such as the gathering of warriors for the siege, the cause of the war and similar, tending to appear near the beginning, and the events prophesied for the future, such as Achilles' looming death and the sack of Troy, prefigured and alluded to more and more vividly approaching the end of the poem, making the poem tell a more or less complete tale of the Trojan War.

Along with the Odyssey
Odyssey
The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon, and is the second—the Iliad being the first—extant work of Western literature...

, also attributed to Homer, the Iliad is among the oldest extant works of Western literature, and its written version is usually dated to around the eighth century BC.
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Encyclopedia
The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameter
Dactylic hexameter
Dactylic hexameter is a form of meter in poetry or a rhythmic scheme. It is traditionally associated with the quantitative meter of classical epic poetry in both Greek and Latin, and was consequently considered to be the Grand Style of classical poetry...

s, traditionally attributed to Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

. Set during the Trojan War
Trojan War
In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans after Paris of Troy took Helen from her husband Menelaus, the king of Sparta. The war is among the most important events in Greek mythology and was narrated in many works of Greek literature, including the Iliad...

, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy
Troy
Troy was a city, both factual and legendary, located in northwest Anatolia in what is now Turkey, southeast of the Dardanelles and beside Mount Ida...

 (Ilium) by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon
Agamemnon
In Greek mythology, Agamemnon was the son of King Atreus and Queen Aerope of Mycenae, the brother of Menelaus, the husband of Clytemnestra, and the father of Electra and Orestes. Mythical legends make him the king of Mycenae or Argos, thought to be different names for the same area...

 and the warrior Achilles
Achilles
In Greek mythology, Achilles was a Greek hero of the Trojan War, the central character and the greatest warrior of Homer's Iliad.Plato named Achilles the handsomest of the heroes assembled against Troy....

. Although the story covers only a few weeks in the final year of the war, the Iliad mentions or alludes to many of the Greek legends about the siege, the earlier events, such as the gathering of warriors for the siege, the cause of the war and similar, tending to appear near the beginning, and the events prophesied for the future, such as Achilles' looming death and the sack of Troy, prefigured and alluded to more and more vividly approaching the end of the poem, making the poem tell a more or less complete tale of the Trojan War.

Along with the Odyssey
Odyssey
The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon, and is the second—the Iliad being the first—extant work of Western literature...

, also attributed to Homer, the Iliad is among the oldest extant works of Western literature, and its written version is usually dated to around the eighth century BC. The Iliad contains over 15,000 lines, and is written in Homeric Greek
Homeric Greek
Homeric Greek is the form of the Greek language that was used by Homer in the Iliad and Odyssey. It is an archaic version of Ionic Greek, with admixtures from certain other dialects, such as Aeolic Greek. It later served as the basis of Epic Greek, the language of epic poetry, typically in...

, a literary amalgam of Ionic Greek
Ionic Greek
Ionic Greek was a subdialect of the Attic–Ionic dialect group of Ancient Greek .-History:Ionic dialect appears to have spread originally from the Greek mainland across the Aegean at the time of the Dorian invasions, around the 11th Century B.C.By the end of the Greek Dark Ages in the 5th Century...

 with other dialects.

Synopsis


Note: Book numbers are in parentheses and come before the synopsis of the book.
After an invocation
Invocation
An invocation may take the form of:*Supplication or prayer.*A form of possession.*Command or conjuration.*Self-identification with certain spirits....

 to the Muse
Muse
The Muses in Greek mythology, poetry, and literature, are the goddesses who inspire the creation of literature and the arts. They were considered the source of the knowledge, related orally for centuries in the ancient culture, that was contained in poetic lyrics and myths...

s, the story launches in medias res
In medias res
In medias res or medias in res is a Latin phrase denoting the literary and artistic narrative technique wherein the relation of a story begins either at the mid-point or at the conclusion, rather than at the beginning In medias res or medias in res (into the middle of things) is a Latin phrase...

towards the end of the Trojan War between the Trojans and the besieging Greeks. Chryses
Chryses
In Greek mythology, Chryses was a priest of Apollo at Chryse, near the city of Troy.According to a tradition mentioned by Eustathius of Thessalonica, Chryses and Briseus were brothers, sons of a man named Ardys .During the Trojan War ,...

, a Trojan priest of Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

, offers the Greeks wealth for the return of his daughter Chryseis
Chryseis
In Greek mythology, Chryseis was a Trojan woman, the daughter of Chryses. Chryseis, her apparent name in the Iliad, means simply "Chryses' daughter"; later writers give her real name as Astynome ....

, a captive of Agamemnon
Agamemnon
In Greek mythology, Agamemnon was the son of King Atreus and Queen Aerope of Mycenae, the brother of Menelaus, the husband of Clytemnestra, and the father of Electra and Orestes. Mythical legends make him the king of Mycenae or Argos, thought to be different names for the same area...

, the Greek leader. Although most of the Greek army is in favour of the offer, Agamemnon refuses. Chryses prays for Apollo's help, and Apollo causes a plague throughout the Greek army. After nine days of plague, Achilles
Achilles
In Greek mythology, Achilles was a Greek hero of the Trojan War, the central character and the greatest warrior of Homer's Iliad.Plato named Achilles the handsomest of the heroes assembled against Troy....

, the leader of the Myrmidon
Myrmidons
The Myrmidons or Myrmidones were legendary people of Greek history. They were very brave and skilled warriors commanded by Achilles, as described in Homer's Iliad. Their eponymous ancestor was Myrmidon, a king of Thessalian Phthia, who was the son of Zeus and "wide-ruling" Eurymedousa, a...

 contingent, calls an assembly to solve the plague problem. Under pressure, Agamemnon agrees to return Chryseis
Chryseis
In Greek mythology, Chryseis was a Trojan woman, the daughter of Chryses. Chryseis, her apparent name in the Iliad, means simply "Chryses' daughter"; later writers give her real name as Astynome ....

 to her father, but also decides to take Achilles's captive, Briseis
Briseis
Brisēís was a mythical queen in Asia Minor at the time of the Trojan War. Her character lies at the center of a dispute between Achilles and Agamemnon that drives the plot of Homer's Iliad.-Story:...

, as compensation. Angered, Achilles declares that he and his men will no longer fight for Agamemnon, but will go home. Odysseus
Odysseus
Odysseus or Ulysses was a legendary Greek king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. Odysseus also plays a key role in Homer's Iliad and other works in the Epic Cycle....

 takes a ship and brings Chryseis to her father, whereupon Apollo ends the plague. In the meantime, Agamemnon's messengers take Briseis away, and Achilles asks his mother, Thetis
Thetis
Silver-footed Thetis , disposer or "placer" , is encountered in Greek mythology mostly as a sea nymph or known as the goddess of water, one of the fifty Nereids, daughters of the ancient one of the seas with shape-shifting abilities who survives in the historical vestiges of most later Greek myths...

, to ask Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

 that the Greeks be brought to the breaking point by the Trojans, so Agamemnon will realise how much the Greeks need Achilles. Thetis does so, Zeus agrees, and sends a dream to Agamemnon, urging him to attack the city. Agamemnon heeds the dream but decides to first test the morale of the Greek army by telling them to go home. The plan backfires, and only the intervention of Odysseus, inspired by Athena
Athena
In Greek mythology, Athena, Athenê, or Athene , also referred to as Pallas Athena/Athene , is the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, warfare, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, justice, and skill. Minerva, Athena's Roman incarnation, embodies similar attributes. Athena is...

, stops the rout. Odysseus confronts and beats Thersites
Thersites
In Greek mythology, Thersites was a soldier of the Greek army during the Trojan War. In the Iliad, he does not have a father's name, which may suggest that he should be viewed as a commoner rather than an aristocratic hero...

, a common soldier who voices discontent at fighting Agamemnon's war. After a meal, the Greeks deploy in companies upon the Trojan plain. The poet takes the opportunity to describe each Greek contingent. When news of the Greek deployment reaches king Priam
Priam
Priam was the king of Troy during the Trojan War and youngest son of Laomedon. Modern scholars derive his name from the Luwian compound Priimuua, which means "exceptionally courageous".- Marriage and issue :...

, the Trojans too sortie upon the plain. In a similar list to that for the Greeks, the poet describes the Trojans and their allies. The armies approach each other on the plain, but before they meet, Paris
Paris (mythology)
Paris , the son of Priam, king of Troy, appears in a number of Greek legends. Probably the best-known was his elopement with Helen, queen of Sparta, this being one of the immediate causes of the Trojan War...

 offers to end the war by fighting a duel with Menelaus
Menelaus
Menelaus may refer to;*Menelaus, one of the two most known Atrides, a king of Sparta and son of Atreus and Aerope*Menelaus on the Moon, named after Menelaus of Alexandria.*Menelaus , brother of Ptolemy I Soter...

, to the advice and will of his brother and head of the Trojan army, Hector
Hector
In Greek mythology, Hectōr , or Hektōr, is a Trojan prince and the greatest fighter for Troy in the Trojan War. As the first-born son of King Priam and Queen Hecuba, a descendant of Dardanus, who lived under Mount Ida, and of Tros, the founder of Troy, he was a prince of the royal house and the...

. While Helen tells Priam
Priam
Priam was the king of Troy during the Trojan War and youngest son of Laomedon. Modern scholars derive his name from the Luwian compound Priimuua, which means "exceptionally courageous".- Marriage and issue :...

 about the Greek commanders from the walls of Troy, both sides swear a truce and promise to abide by the outcome of the duel. Paris is beaten, but Aphrodite
Aphrodite
Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation.Her Roman equivalent is the goddess .Historically, her cult in Greece was imported from, or influenced by, the cult of Astarte in Phoenicia....

 rescues him and leads him to bed with Helen before Menelaus could kill him. Pressured by Hera
Hera
Hera was the wife and one of three sisters of Zeus in the Olympian pantheon of Greek mythology and religion. Her chief function was as the goddess of women and marriage. Her counterpart in the religion of ancient Rome was Juno. The cow and the peacock were sacred to her...

's hatred of Troy, Zeus arranges for the Trojan Pandaros
Pandarus
Pandarus is a Trojan aristocrat who appears in stories about the Trojan War. In Homer's Iliad he is portrayed as an energetic and impetuous warrior, but in medieval literature he becomes a witty and licentious figure who facilitates the affair between Troilus and Cressida...

 to break the truce by wounding Menelaus with an arrow. Agamemnon rouses the Greeks, and battle is joined. In the fighting, Diomedes
Diomedes
Diomedes or Diomed is a hero in Greek mythology, known for his participation in the Trojan War.He was born to Tydeus and Deipyle and later became King of Argos, succeeding his maternal grandfather, Adrastus. In Homer's Iliad Diomedes is regarded alongside Ajax as one of the best warriors of all...

 kills many Trojans and defeats Aeneas
Aeneas
Aeneas , in Greco-Roman mythology, was a Trojan hero, the son of the prince Anchises and the goddess Aphrodite. His father was the second cousin of King Priam of Troy, making Aeneas Priam's second cousin, once removed. The journey of Aeneas from Troy , which led to the founding a hamlet south of...

, whom again Aphrodite rescues, but Diomedes attacks and wounds the goddess. Apollo faces Diomedes, and warns him against warring with gods. Many heroes and commanders join in, including Hector, and the gods supporting each side try to influence the battle. Emboldened by Athena, Diomedes wounds Ares
Ares
Ares is the Greek god of war. He is one of the Twelve Olympians, and the son of Zeus and Hera. In Greek literature, he often represents the physical or violent aspect of war, in contrast to the armored Athena, whose functions as a goddess of intelligence include military strategy and...

 and puts him out of action.

Hector rallies the Trojans and stops a rout; the Greek Diomedes and the Trojan Glaukos
Glaucus (soldier)
Glaucus was a son of Hippolochus and a grandson of Bellerophon. He was a captain in the Lycian army under the command of his close friend and cousin Sarpedon. The Lycians in the Trojan War were allies of Troy...

 find common ground and exchange unequal gifts. Hector enters the city, urges prayers and sacrifices, incites Paris to battle, bids his wife Andromache
Andromache
In Greek mythology, Andromache was the wife of Hector and daughter of Eetion, and sister to Podes. She was born and raised in the city of Cilician Thebe, over which her father ruled...

 and son Astyanax
Astyanax
In Greek mythology, Astyanax was the son of Hector, Crown Prince of Troy and Princess Andromache of Cilician Thebe. His birth name was Scamandrius , but the people of Troy nicknamed him Astyanax In Greek mythology, Astyanax was the son of Hector, Crown Prince of Troy and Princess Andromache of...

 farewell on the city walls, and rejoins the battle. Hector duels with Ajax
Ajax (mythology)
Ajax or Aias was a mythological Greek hero, the son of Telamon and Periboea and king of Salamis. He plays an important role in Homer's Iliad and in the Epic Cycle, a series of epic poems about the Trojan War. To distinguish him from Ajax, son of Oileus , he is called "Telamonian Ajax," "Greater...

, but nightfall interrupts the fight and both sides retire. The Greeks agree to burn their dead and build a wall to protect their ships and camp, while the Trojans quarrel about returning Helen. Paris offers to return the treasure he took, and give further wealth as compensation, but without returning Helen, and the offer is refused. A day's truce is agreed for burning the dead, during which the Greeks also build their wall and trench. The next morning, Zeus prohibits the gods from interfering, and fighting begins anew. The Trojans prevail and force the Greeks back to their wall while Hera and Athena are forbidden from helping. Night falls before the Trojans can assail the Greek wall. They camp in the field to attack at first light, and their watchfires light the plain like stars.

Meanwhile, the Greeks are desperate. Agamemnon admits his error, and sends an embassy composed of Odysseus, Ajax, Phoenix
Phoenix (Iliad)
In Greek mythology, Phoenix , son of Amyntor and Cleobule, is one of the Myrmidons led by Achilles in the Trojan War...

, and two heralds to offer Briseis and extensive gifts to Achilles, who has been camped next to his ships throughout, if only he would return to the fighting. Achilles and his companion Patroclus
Patroclus
In Greek mythology, as recorded in the Iliad by Homer, Patroclus, or Patroklos , was the son of Menoetius, grandson of Actor, King of Opus, and was Achilles' beloved comrade and brother-in-arms....

 receive the embassy well, but Achilles angrily refuses Agamemnon's offer, and declares that he would only return to battle if the Trojans reach his ships and threaten them with fire. The embassy returns empty-handed. Later that night, Odysseus and Diomedes venture out to the Trojan lines, kill the Trojan Dolon, and wreak havoc in the camps of some Thracian allies of Troy. In the morning, the fighting is fierce and Agamemnon, Diomedes, and Odysseus are all wounded. Achilles sends Patroclus from his camp to inquire about the Greek casualties, and while there Patroclus is moved to pity by a speech of Nestor
Nestor (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Nestor of Gerenia was the son of Neleus and Chloris and the King of Pylos. He became king after Heracles killed Neleus and all of Nestor's siblings...

. The Trojans assault the Greek wall on foot. Hector, ignoring an omen, leads the terrible fighting. The Greeks are overwhelmed in rout, the wall's gate is broken, and Hector charges in. Many fall on both sides. The Trojan seer Polydamas urges Hector to fall back and warns him about Achilles, but is ignored. Hera seduces Zeus and lures him to sleep, allowing Poseidon
Poseidon
Poseidon was the god of the sea, and, as "Earth-Shaker," of the earthquakes in Greek mythology. The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology: both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon...

 to help the Greeks, and the Trojans are driven back onto the plain. Zeus awakes and is enraged by Poseidon's intervention. Against the mounting discontent of the Greek-supporting gods, Zeus sends Apollo to aid the Trojans, who once again breach the wall, and the battle reaches the ships.

Patroclus can stand to watch no longer, and begs Achilles to be allowed to defend the ships. Achilles relents, and lends Patroclus his armor, but sends him off with a stern admonition to not pursue the Trojans, lest he take Achilles's glory. Patroclus leads the Myrmidons
Myrmidons
The Myrmidons or Myrmidones were legendary people of Greek history. They were very brave and skilled warriors commanded by Achilles, as described in Homer's Iliad. Their eponymous ancestor was Myrmidon, a king of Thessalian Phthia, who was the son of Zeus and "wide-ruling" Eurymedousa, a...

 to battle and arrives as the Trojans set fire to the first ships. The Trojans are routed by the sudden onslaught. Patroclus, ignoring Achilles's command, pursues and reaches the gates of Troy, where Apollo himself stops him. Patroclus is set upon by Apollo and Euphorbos, and is finally killed by Hector. Hector takes Achilles's armor from the fallen Patroclus, but fighting develops around Patroclus' body. Achilles is mad with grief when he hears of Patroclus's death, and vows to take vengeance on Hector; his mother Thetis grieves, too, knowing that Achilles is fated to die if he kills Hector. Achilles is urged to help retrieve Patroclus' body, but has no armour. Made brilliant by Athena, Achilles stands next to the Greek wall and roars in rage. The Trojans are dismayed by his appearance and the Greeks manage to bear Patroclus' body away. Again Polydamas urges Hector to withdraw into the city, again Hector refuses, and the Trojans camp in the plain at nightfall. Patroclus is mourned, and meanwhile, at Thetis' request, Hephaistos
Hephaestus
Hephaestus was a Greek god whose Roman equivalent was Vulcan. He is the son of Zeus and Hera, the King and Queen of the Gods - or else, according to some accounts, of Hera alone. He was the god of technology, blacksmiths, craftsmen, artisans, sculptors, metals, metallurgy, fire and volcanoes...

 fashions a new set of armor for Achilles, among which is a magnificently wrought shield
Shield of Achilles
The Shield of Achilles is the shield that Achilles uses to fight Hector, famously described in a passage in Book 18, lines 478-608 of Homer's Iliad....

. In the morning, Agamemnon gives Achilles all the promised gifts, including Briseis, but he is indifferent to them. Achilles fasts while the Greeks take their meal, and straps on his new armor, and heaves his great spear. His horse Xanthos
Balius and Xanthus
In Greek mythology, Balius and Xanthus were two immortal horses, the offspring of the harpy Podarge and the West wind, Zephyros ; following another tradition, their father was Zeus.Note: Balius and Xanthus are the Latin forms of the Greek names Balios and Xanthos.-Horses of Achilles:Poseidon...

 prophesies to Achilles his death. Achilles drives his chariot into battle.

Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

 lifts the ban on the gods' interference, and the gods freely intervene on both sides. The onslaught of Achilles, burning with rage and grief, is terrible, and he slays many. Driving the Trojans before him, Achilles cuts off half in the river Skamandros
Scamander
In Greek mythology, Scamander was a river god, son of Oceanus and Tethys according to Hesiod. Scamander is also thought of as the river god, son of Zeus. By Idaea, he fathered King Teucer....

 and proceeds to slaughter them and fills the river with the dead. The river, angry at the killing, confronts Achilles, but is beaten back by Hephaistos' firestorm. The gods fight among themselves. The great gates of the city are opened to receive the fleeing Trojans, and Apollo leads Achilles away from the city by pretending to be a Trojan. When Apollo reveals himself to Achilles, the Trojans had retreated into the city, all except for Hector, who, having twice ignored the counsels of Polydamas, feels the shame of rout and resolves to face Achilles, in spite of the pleas of Priam and Hecuba
Hecuba
Hecuba was a queen in Greek mythology, the wife of King Priam of Troy during the Trojan War, with whom she had 19 children. These children included several major characters of Homer's Iliad such as the warriors Hector and Paris, and the prophetess Cassandra...

, his parents. When Achilles approaches, Hector's will fails him, and he is chased around the city by Achilles. Finally, Athena tricks him to stop running, and he turns to face his opponent. After a brief duel, Achilles stabs Hector through the neck. Before dying, Hector reminds Achilles that he is fated to die in the war as well. Achilles takes Hector's body and dishonors it. The ghost of Patroclus comes to Achilles in a dream and urges the burial of his body. The Greeks hold a day of funeral games, and Achilles gives out the prizes. Dismayed by Achilles' continued abuse of Hector's body, Zeus decides that it must be returned to Priam. Led by Hermes
Hermes
Hermes is the great messenger of the gods in Greek mythology and a guide to the Underworld. Hermes was born on Mount Kyllini in Arcadia. An Olympian god, he is also the patron of boundaries and of the travelers who cross them, of shepherds and cowherds, of the cunning of thieves, of orators and...

, Priam takes a wagon out of Troy, across the plains, and enters the Greek camp unnoticed. He grasps Achilles by the knees and begs to have his son's body. Achilles is moved to tears, and the two lament their losses in the war. After a meal, Priam carries Hector's body back into Troy. Hector is buried, and the city mourns.

The major characters


The many characters of the Iliad are catalogued; the latter-half of Book II, the “Catalogue of Ships
Catalogue of Ships
The Catalogue of Ships is a passage in Book 2 of Homer's Iliad , which lists the contingents of the Achaean army that sailed to Troy...

”, lists commanders and cohorts; battle scenes feature quickly slain minor characters.

Achaeans

  • The Achaeans  — aka the Hellenes (Greeks), Danaans (Δαναοί), and Argives (Ἀργεĩοι).
    • Agamemnon
      Agamemnon
      In Greek mythology, Agamemnon was the son of King Atreus and Queen Aerope of Mycenae, the brother of Menelaus, the husband of Clytemnestra, and the father of Electra and Orestes. Mythical legends make him the king of Mycenae or Argos, thought to be different names for the same area...

       — King of Mycenae
      Mycenae
      Mycenae is an archaeological site in Greece, located about 90 km south-west of Athens, in the north-eastern Peloponnese. Argos is 11 km to the south; Corinth, 48 km to the north...

      , leader of the Greeks.
    • Achilles
      Achilles
      In Greek mythology, Achilles was a Greek hero of the Trojan War, the central character and the greatest warrior of Homer's Iliad.Plato named Achilles the handsomest of the heroes assembled against Troy....

       — Leader of the Myrmidons
      Myrmidons
      The Myrmidons or Myrmidones were legendary people of Greek history. They were very brave and skilled warriors commanded by Achilles, as described in Homer's Iliad. Their eponymous ancestor was Myrmidon, a king of Thessalian Phthia, who was the son of Zeus and "wide-ruling" Eurymedousa, a...

      , half-divine war hero.
    • Odysseus
      Odysseus
      Odysseus or Ulysses was a legendary Greek king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. Odysseus also plays a key role in Homer's Iliad and other works in the Epic Cycle....

       — King of Ithaca
      Ithaca
      Ithaca or Ithaka is an island located in the Ionian Sea, in Greece, with an area of and a little more than three thousand inhabitants. It is also a separate regional unit of the Ionian Islands region, and the only municipality of the regional unit. It lies off the northeast coast of Kefalonia and...

      , the wiliest Greek commander and hero of the Odyssey.
    • Aias (Ajax the Greater)
      Ajax (mythology)
      Ajax or Aias was a mythological Greek hero, the son of Telamon and Periboea and king of Salamis. He plays an important role in Homer's Iliad and in the Epic Cycle, a series of epic poems about the Trojan War. To distinguish him from Ajax, son of Oileus , he is called "Telamonian Ajax," "Greater...

       — son of Telamon, with Diomedes, he is second to Achilles in martial prowess.
    • Menelaus
      Menelaus
      Menelaus may refer to;*Menelaus, one of the two most known Atrides, a king of Sparta and son of Atreus and Aerope*Menelaus on the Moon, named after Menelaus of Alexandria.*Menelaus , brother of Ptolemy I Soter...

       — King of Sparta
      Sparta
      Sparta or Lacedaemon, was a prominent city-state in ancient Greece, situated on the banks of the River Eurotas in Laconia, in south-eastern Peloponnese. It emerged as a political entity around the 10th century BC, when the invading Dorians subjugated the local, non-Dorian population. From c...

      , husband of Helen and brother of Agamemnon.
    • Diomedes
      Diomedes
      Diomedes or Diomed is a hero in Greek mythology, known for his participation in the Trojan War.He was born to Tydeus and Deipyle and later became King of Argos, succeeding his maternal grandfather, Adrastus. In Homer's Iliad Diomedes is regarded alongside Ajax as one of the best warriors of all...

       — son of Tydeus, King of Argos
      Argos
      Argos is a city and a former municipality in Argolis, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Argos-Mykines, of which it is a municipal unit. It is 11 kilometres from Nafplion, which was its historic harbour...

      .
    • Aias (Ajax the Lesser
      Ajax the Lesser
      Ajax was a Greek mythological hero, son of Oileus, the king of Locris. He was called the "lesser" or "Locrian" Ajax, to distinguish him from Ajax the Great, son of Telamon. He was the leader of the Locrian contingent during the Trojan War. He is a significant figure in Homer's Iliad and is also...

      ) — son of Oileus, often partner of Ajax the Greater.
    • Patroclus
      Patroclus
      In Greek mythology, as recorded in the Iliad by Homer, Patroclus, or Patroklos , was the son of Menoetius, grandson of Actor, King of Opus, and was Achilles' beloved comrade and brother-in-arms....

       — Achilles’ closest companion.
    • Nestor
      Nestor (mythology)
      In Greek mythology, Nestor of Gerenia was the son of Neleus and Chloris and the King of Pylos. He became king after Heracles killed Neleus and all of Nestor's siblings...

       — King of Pylos.

Achilles and Patroclus



Much debate has surrounded the nature of the relationship of Achilles and Patroclus, as to whether it can be described as a homoerotic one or not. Classical and Hellenistic Athenian scholars perceived it as pederastic
Pederasty
Pederasty or paederasty is an intimate relationship between an adult and an adolescent boy outside his immediate family. The word pederasty derives from Greek "love of boys", a compound derived from "child, boy" and "lover".Historically, pederasty has existed as a variety of customs and...

, while others perceived it as a platonic warrior-bond.

Trojans

  • The Trojan
    Troy
    Troy was a city, both factual and legendary, located in northwest Anatolia in what is now Turkey, southeast of the Dardanelles and beside Mount Ida...

     men
    • Hector
      Hector
      In Greek mythology, Hectōr , or Hektōr, is a Trojan prince and the greatest fighter for Troy in the Trojan War. As the first-born son of King Priam and Queen Hecuba, a descendant of Dardanus, who lived under Mount Ida, and of Tros, the founder of Troy, he was a prince of the royal house and the...

       — son of King Priam and the foremost Trojan warrior.
    • Aeneas
      Aeneas
      Aeneas , in Greco-Roman mythology, was a Trojan hero, the son of the prince Anchises and the goddess Aphrodite. His father was the second cousin of King Priam of Troy, making Aeneas Priam's second cousin, once removed. The journey of Aeneas from Troy , which led to the founding a hamlet south of...

       — son of Anchises and Aphrodite.
    • Deiphobus
      Deiphobus
      In Greek mythology, Deiphobus was a son of Priam and Hecuba. He was a prince of Troy, and the greatest of Priam's sons after Hector and Paris...

       — brother of Hector and Paris.
    • Paris
      Paris (mythology)
      Paris , the son of Priam, king of Troy, appears in a number of Greek legends. Probably the best-known was his elopement with Helen, queen of Sparta, this being one of the immediate causes of the Trojan War...

       — Helen’s lover-abductor.
    • Priam
      Priam
      Priam was the king of Troy during the Trojan War and youngest son of Laomedon. Modern scholars derive his name from the Luwian compound Priimuua, which means "exceptionally courageous".- Marriage and issue :...

       — the aged King of Troy.
    • Polydamas — a prudent commander whose advice is ignored; he is Hector’s foil.
    • Agenor
      Agenor, son of Antenor
      Agenor , son of Antenor and Theano, was a Trojan soldier in the Iliad of Homer. One of their leaders in the attack upon the fortifications of the Greeks, he was the Trojan with the first kill on the Trojan side, when he killed Elephenor, one of the Euboean leaders...

       — a Trojan warrior who attempts to fight Achilles (Book XXI).
    • Sarpedon, son of Zeus
      Sarpedon
      In Greek mythology, Sarpedon referred to at least three different people.-Son of Zeus and Europa:The first Sarpedon was a son of Zeus and Europa, and brother to Minos and Rhadamanthys. He was raised by the king Asterion and then, banished by Minos, his rival in love for the young Miletus, he...

       — killed by Patroclus. Was friend of Glaucus and co-leader of the Lycians (fought for the Trojans).
    • Glaucus, son of Hippolochus
      Glaucus (soldier)
      Glaucus was a son of Hippolochus and a grandson of Bellerophon. He was a captain in the Lycian army under the command of his close friend and cousin Sarpedon. The Lycians in the Trojan War were allies of Troy...

       — friend of Sarpedon and co-leader of the Lycians (fought for the Trojans).
    • Euphorbus
      Euphorbus
      Euphorbus , the son of Panthous and Phrontis, was a Trojan hero during the Trojan War. He wounded Patroclus before Patroclus was killed by Hector. In the fight for Patroclus' body, Euphorbus was killed by Menelaus. He was apparently one of Troy's finest warriors. Menelaus later took Euphorbus'...

       — first Trojan warrior to wound Patroclus.
    • Dolon  — a spy upon the Greek camp (Book X).
    • Antenor
      Antenor (mythology)
      In Greek mythology, Anthenor was a son of the Dardanian noble Aesyetes by Cleomestra. He is a counselor to Priam during the Trojan War.-History:He was one of the wisest of the Trojan elders and counsellors...

       — King Priam’s advisor, who argues for returning Helen to end the war. Paris refuses.
    • Polydorus
      Polydorus
      In Greek mythology, Polydorus referred to several different people.*An Argive, son of Hippomedon...

       — son of Priam and Laothoe
      Laothoe
      In Greek mythology, Laothoe can refer to five women:*Laothoe, a wife of Priam, king of Troy, and mother of Lycaon. Her father was Altes, king of the Leleges.*Laothoe, one of the daughters of Thespius and Megamede...

      .
    • Pandarus
      Pandarus
      Pandarus is a Trojan aristocrat who appears in stories about the Trojan War. In Homer's Iliad he is portrayed as an energetic and impetuous warrior, but in medieval literature he becomes a witty and licentious figure who facilitates the affair between Troilus and Cressida...

       — famous archer and son of Lycaon.

  • The Trojan women
    • Hecuba
      Hecuba
      Hecuba was a queen in Greek mythology, the wife of King Priam of Troy during the Trojan War, with whom she had 19 children. These children included several major characters of Homer's Iliad such as the warriors Hector and Paris, and the prophetess Cassandra...

        — Priam’s wife, mother of Hector, Cassandra, Paris, and others.
    • Helen  — Menelaus’s wife; espoused first to Paris, then to Deiphobus; her abduction by Paris precipitated the war.
    • Andromache
      Andromache
      In Greek mythology, Andromache was the wife of Hector and daughter of Eetion, and sister to Podes. She was born and raised in the city of Cilician Thebe, over which her father ruled...

        — Hector’s wife, mother of Astyanax
      Astyanax
      In Greek mythology, Astyanax was the son of Hector, Crown Prince of Troy and Princess Andromache of Cilician Thebe. His birth name was Scamandrius , but the people of Troy nicknamed him Astyanax In Greek mythology, Astyanax was the son of Hector, Crown Prince of Troy and Princess Andromache of...

       .
    • Cassandra
      Cassandra
      In Greek mythology, Cassandra was the daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Troy. Her beauty caused Apollo to grant her the gift of prophecy...

        — Priam’s daughter; courted by Apollo, who bestows the gift of prophecy to her; upon being rejected by her, he curses her, and her warnings of Trojan doom go unheeded.
    • Briseis
      Briseis
      Brisēís was a mythical queen in Asia Minor at the time of the Trojan War. Her character lies at the center of a dispute between Achilles and Agamemnon that drives the plot of Homer's Iliad.-Story:...

       — a Trojan woman captured by the Greeks; she was Achilles' prize of the Trojan war.

Gods


In the literary Trojan War
Trojan War
In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans after Paris of Troy took Helen from her husband Menelaus, the king of Sparta. The war is among the most important events in Greek mythology and was narrated in many works of Greek literature, including the Iliad...

 of the Iliad, the Olympic gods, goddesses, and demigods fight and play great roles in human warfare. Unlike practical Greek religious observance, Homer’s portrayals of them suited his narrative purpose, being very different from the polytheistic ideals Greek society used. To wit, the Classical-era historian Herodotus
Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

 says that Homer, and his contemporary, the poet Hesiod
Hesiod
Hesiod was a Greek oral poet generally thought by scholars to have been active between 750 and 650 BC, around the same time as Homer. His is the first European poetry in which the poet regards himself as a topic, an individual with a distinctive role to play. Ancient authors credited him and...

, were the first artists to name and describe their appearance and characters.

In Greek Gods, Human Lives: What We Can Learn From Myths, Mary Lefkowitz
Mary Lefkowitz
Mary R. Lefkowitz is an American classical scholar and Professor Emerita of Classical Studies at Wellesley College. She is best known to non-Classicists for her anti-Afrocentrism book, Not Out of Africa . She is the widow of Sir Hugh Lloyd-Jones.-Biography:Lefkowitz earned her B.A...

 discusses the relevance of divine action in the Iliad, attempting to answer the question of whether or not divine intervention is a discrete occurrence (for its own sake), or if such godly behaviors are mere human character metaphors. The intellectual interest of Classic-era authors, such as Thucydides
Thucydides
Thucydides was a Greek historian and author from Alimos. His History of the Peloponnesian War recounts the 5th century BC war between Sparta and Athens to the year 411 BC...

 and Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

, was limited to their utility as “a way of talking about human life rather than a description or a truth”, because, if the gods remain religious figures, rather than human metaphors, their “existence” — without the foundation of either dogma or a bible of faiths — then allowed Greek culture the intellectual breadth and freedom to conjure gods fitting any religious function they required as a people.

In The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, psychologist Julian Jaynes
Julian Jaynes
Julian Jaynes was an American psychologist, best known for his book The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind , in which he argued that ancient peoples were not conscious....

 uses the Iliad as a major supporting evidence for his theory of Bicameralism
Bicameralism (psychology)
Bicameralism is a hypothesis in psychology that argues that the human brain once assumed a state in which cognitive functions were divided between one part of the brain which appears to be "speaking", and a second part which listens and obeys—a bicameral mind...

, which posits that until about the time described in the Iliad, humans had a much different mentality than present day humans, essentially lacking in what we call consciousness. He suggests that humans heard and obeyed commands from what they identified as gods, until the change in human mentality that incorporated the motivating force into the conscious self. He points out that almost every action in the Iliad is directed, caused, or influenced by a god, and that earlier translations show an astonishing lack of words suggesting thought, planning, or introspection. Those that do appear, he argues, are misinterpretations made by translators imposing a modern mentality on the characters.
  • The major deities:
    • Zeus
      Zeus
      In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

       (Both Sides)
    • Hera
      Hera
      Hera was the wife and one of three sisters of Zeus in the Olympian pantheon of Greek mythology and religion. Her chief function was as the goddess of women and marriage. Her counterpart in the religion of ancient Rome was Juno. The cow and the peacock were sacred to her...

       (Acheans)
    • Artemis
      Artemis
      Artemis was one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities. Her Roman equivalent is Diana. Some scholars believe that the name and indeed the goddess herself was originally pre-Greek. Homer refers to her as Artemis Agrotera, Potnia Theron: "Artemis of the wildland, Mistress of Animals"...

       (Trojans)
    • Apollo
      Apollo
      Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

       (Trojans)
    • Hades
      Hades
      Hades , Hadēs, originally , Haidēs or , Aidēs , meaning "the unseen") was the ancient Greek god of the underworld. The genitive , Haidou, was an elision to denote locality: "[the house/dominion] of Hades". Eventually, the nominative came to designate the abode of the dead.In Greek mythology, Hades...

       (Acheans)
    • Aphrodite
      Aphrodite
      Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation.Her Roman equivalent is the goddess .Historically, her cult in Greece was imported from, or influenced by, the cult of Astarte in Phoenicia....

       (Trojans)
    • Ares
      Ares
      Ares is the Greek god of war. He is one of the Twelve Olympians, and the son of Zeus and Hera. In Greek literature, he often represents the physical or violent aspect of war, in contrast to the armored Athena, whose functions as a goddess of intelligence include military strategy and...

       (Trojans)
    • Athena
      Athena
      In Greek mythology, Athena, Athenê, or Athene , also referred to as Pallas Athena/Athene , is the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, warfare, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, justice, and skill. Minerva, Athena's Roman incarnation, embodies similar attributes. Athena is...

       (Acheans)
    • Hermes
      Hermes
      Hermes is the great messenger of the gods in Greek mythology and a guide to the Underworld. Hermes was born on Mount Kyllini in Arcadia. An Olympian god, he is also the patron of boundaries and of the travelers who cross them, of shepherds and cowherds, of the cunning of thieves, of orators and...

       (Acheans)
    • Poseidon
      Poseidon
      Poseidon was the god of the sea, and, as "Earth-Shaker," of the earthquakes in Greek mythology. The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology: both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon...

       (Acheans)
    • Hephaestus
      Hephaestus
      Hephaestus was a Greek god whose Roman equivalent was Vulcan. He is the son of Zeus and Hera, the King and Queen of the Gods - or else, according to some accounts, of Hera alone. He was the god of technology, blacksmiths, craftsmen, artisans, sculptors, metals, metallurgy, fire and volcanoes...

       (Acheans)

  • The minor deities:
    • Eris
      Eris (mythology)
      Eris is the Greek goddess of strife and discord, her name being translated into Latin as Discordia. Her Greek opposite is Harmonia, whose Latin counterpart is Concordia. Homer equated her with the war-goddess Enyo, whose Roman counterpart is Bellona...

       (Trojans)
    • Iris
      Iris (mythology)
      In Greek mythology, Iris is the personification of the rainbow and messenger of the gods. As the sun unites Earth and heaven, Iris links the gods to humanity...

       (Acheans)
    • Thetis
      Thetis
      Silver-footed Thetis , disposer or "placer" , is encountered in Greek mythology mostly as a sea nymph or known as the goddess of water, one of the fifty Nereids, daughters of the ancient one of the seas with shape-shifting abilities who survives in the historical vestiges of most later Greek myths...

       (Acheans)
    • Leto
      Leto
      In Greek mythology, Leto is a daughter of the Titans Coeus and Phoebe. The island of Kos is claimed as her birthplace. In the Olympian scheme, Zeus is the father of her twins, Apollo and Artemis, the Letoides, which Leto conceived after her hidden beauty accidentally caught the eyes of Zeus...

       (Trojans)
    • Proteus
      Proteus
      In Greek mythology, Proteus is an early sea-god, one of several deities whom Homer calls the "Old Man of the Sea", whose name suggests the "first" , as protogonos is the "primordial" or the "firstborn". He became the son of Poseidon in the Olympian theogony In Greek mythology, Proteus (Πρωτεύς)...

       (Acheans)
    • Scamander
      Scamander
      In Greek mythology, Scamander was a river god, son of Oceanus and Tethys according to Hesiod. Scamander is also thought of as the river god, son of Zeus. By Idaea, he fathered King Teucer....

       (Trojans)
    • Phobos
      Phobos (mythology)
      Phobos is the personification of horror in Greek mythology. He is the offspring of Ares and Aphrodite. He was known for accompanying Ares into battle along with his brother, Deimos, the goddess Enyo, and his father’s attendants. Timor is his Roman equivalent...

       (Trojans)
    • Deimos
      Deimos (mythology)
      In Greek mythology, Deimos was the personification of terror.He was the son of Ares and Aphrodite. He is the twin brother of Phobos and the goddess Enyo who accompanied Ares into battle, as well as his father's attendants, Trembling, Fear, Dread, and Panic...

       (Trojans)

Nostos


Nostos
Nostos
Nostos is the Greek word for homecoming. It is a theme dealt with in many Homeric writings such as the Odyssey, in which the main character, Odysseus, strives to get home after the Trojan War...

(νόστος — homecoming) occurs seven times in the poem . Thematically, the concept of homecoming is much explored in Ancient Greek literature, especially in the post-war homeward fortunes experienced by the Atreidae, Agamemnon, and Odysseus (see the Odyssey). Thus, nostos is impossible without sacking Troy — King Agamemnon’s motive for winning, at any cost.

Kleos


Kleos
Kleos
This article is about the Greek term. For the rock album see Kleos .Kleos is the Greek word often translated to "renown", or "glory". It is related to the word "to hear" and carries the implied meaning of "what others hear about you"...

(κλέος — glory, fame) is the concept of glory earned in heroic battle. For most of the Greek invaders of Troy, notably Odysseus
Odysseus
Odysseus or Ulysses was a legendary Greek king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. Odysseus also plays a key role in Homer's Iliad and other works in the Epic Cycle....

, kleos is earned in a victorious nostos (homecoming), yet not for Achilles, he must choose one reward, either nostos or kleos. In Book IX (IX.410–16), he poignantly tells Agamemnon’s envoys — Odysseus, Phoenix, Ajax — begging his reinstatement to battle about having to choose between two fates (διχθαδίας κήρας — 9.411).

The passage reads (the translation in Latimore's):



For my mother Thetis
Thetis
Silver-footed Thetis , disposer or "placer" , is encountered in Greek mythology mostly as a sea nymph or known as the goddess of water, one of the fifty Nereids, daughters of the ancient one of the seas with shape-shifting abilities who survives in the historical vestiges of most later Greek myths...

 the goddess of silver feet tells me

I carry two sorts of destiny toward the day of my death. Either,

if I stay here and fight beside the city of the Trojans,

my return home is gone, but my glory shall be everlasting;

but if I return home to the beloved land of my fathers,

the excellence of my glory is gone, but there will be a long life

left for me, and my end in death will not come to me quickly.



In forgoing his nostos, he will earn the greater reward of kleos aphthiton (κλέος ἄφθιτον — fame imperishable). In the poem, aphthiton (ἄφθιτον — imperishable) occurs five times (II.46, V.724, XIII.22, XIV.238, XVIII.370), each occurrence denotes an object (i.e. Agamemnon’s sceptre, the wheel of Hebe
Hebe (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Hēbē is the goddess of youth . She is the daughter of Zeus and Hera. Hebe was the cupbearer for the gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus, serving their nectar and ambrosia, until she was married to Heracles ; her successor was the young Trojan prince Ganymede...

's chariot, the house of Poseidon, the throne of Zeus, the house of Hephaistos). Translator Lattimore
Richmond Lattimore
Richmond Alexander Lattimore was an American poet and translator known for his translations of the Greek classics, especially his versions of the Iliad and Odyssey, which are generally considered as among the best English translations available.Born to David and Margaret Barnes Lattimore in...

 renders kleos aphthiton as forever immortal and as forever imperishable — connoting Achilles’s mortality by underscoring his greater reward in returning to battle Troy.

On Achilles' shield, crafted by Hephaistos and gifted to him by his mother Thetis, bears an image of stars in the centre. The stars conjure profound images of the place of a single man, no matter how heroic, in the perspective of the entire cosmos.

Timê


Akin to kleos is timê (τιμή — respect, honour), the concept denoting the respectability an honourable man accrues with accomplishment (cultural, political, martial), per his station in life. In Book I, the Greek troubles begin with King Agamemnon’s dishonourable, unkingly behaviour — first, by threatening the priest Chryses (1.11), then, by aggravating them in disrespecting Achilles, by confiscating Briseis from him (1.171). The warrior’s consequent rancour against the dishonourable king ruins the Greek military cause.

Wrath


The poem’s initial word, μῆνιν (mēnin, accusative of μῆνις, mēnis — wrath, rage, fury), establishes the Iliad's principal theme: The "Wrath of Achilles." His personal rage and wounded soldier’s vanity propel the story — the Greeks’ faltering in battle, the slayings of Patroclus and Hector, and the fall of Troy. In Book I, the Wrath of Achilles first emerges in the Achilles-convoked meeting, between the Greek kings and Calchas
Calchas
In Greek mythology, Calchas , son of Thestor, was an Argive seer, with a gift for interpreting the flight of birds that he received of Apollo: "as an augur, Calchas had no rival in the camp"...

, the Seer. King Agamemnon dishonours Chryses, the Trojan Apollonian priest, by refusing with a threat the restitution of his daughter, Chryseis — despite the proffered ransom of “gifts beyond count”. The insulted priest prays his god’s help — and a nine-day rain of divine plague arrows falls upon the Greeks. Moreover, in that meeting, Achilles accuses Agamemnon of being “greediest for gain of all men”. To that, Agamemnon replies:


But here is my threat to you.

Even as Phoibos Apollo is taking away my Chryseis.

I shall convey her back in my own ship, with my own

followers; but I shall take the fair-cheeked Briseis,

your prize, I myself going to your shelter, that you may learn well

how much greater I am than you, and another man may shrink back

from likening himself to me and contending against me.



After that, only Athena stays Achilles’s wrath. He vows to never again obey orders from Agamemnon. Furious, Achilles cries to his mother, Thetis, who persuades Zeus’s divine intervention — favouring the Trojans — until Achilles’s rights are restored. Meanwhile, Hector leads the Trojans to almost pushing the Greeks back to the sea (Book XII). Later, Agamemnon contemplates defeat and retreat to Greece (Book XIV). Again, the Wrath of Achilles turns the war’s tide in seeking vengeance when Hector kills Patroclus. Aggrieved, Achilles tears his hair and dirties his face. Thetis comforts her mourning son, who tells her:


So it was here that the lord of men Agamemnon angered me.

Still, we will let all this be a thing of the past, and for all our

sorrow beat down by force the anger deeply within us.

Now I shall go, to overtake that killer of a dear life,

Hektor; then I will accept my own death, at whatever

time Zeus wishes to bring it about, and the other immortals.



Accepting prospective death as fair price for avenging Patroclus, he returns to battle, dooming Hector and Troy, thrice chasing him ’round the Trojan walls, before slaying him, then dragging the corpse behind his chariot, back to camp.


Fate


Fate
Destiny
Destiny or fate refers to a predetermined course of events. It may be conceived as a predetermined future, whether in general or of an individual...

 (κήρ, kēr — destiny, fate) propels most of the events of the Iliad. Once set, gods and men abide it, neither truly able nor willing to contest it. How fate is set is unknown, but it is told by the Fates and Seers such as Calchas
Calchas
In Greek mythology, Calchas , son of Thestor, was an Argive seer, with a gift for interpreting the flight of birds that he received of Apollo: "as an augur, Calchas had no rival in the camp"...

. Men and their gods continually speak of heroic acceptance and cowardly avoidance of one’s slated fate. Fate does not determine every action, incident, and occurrence, but it does determine the outcome of life — before killing him, Hector calls Patroclus a fool for cowardly avoidance of his fate, by attempting his defeat; Patroclus retorts:

No, deadly destiny, with the son of Leto, has killed me,

and of men it was Euphorbos; you are only my third slayer.

And put away in your heart this other thing that I tell you.

You yourself are not one who shall live long, but now already

death and powerful destiny are standing beside you,

to go down under the hands of Aiakos’ great son, Achilleus.


Here, Patroclus alludes to fated death by Hector’s hand, and Hector’s fated death by Achilles’s hand. Despite free will
Free will
"To make my own decisions whether I am successful or not due to uncontrollable forces" -Troy MorrisonA pragmatic definition of free willFree will is the ability of agents to make choices free from certain kinds of constraints. The existence of free will and its exact nature and definition have long...

, each accepts the outcome of his life, yet, no-one knows if the gods can alter fate. The first instance of this doubt occurs in Book XVI. Seeing Patroclus about to kill Sarpedon
Sarpedon
In Greek mythology, Sarpedon referred to at least three different people.-Son of Zeus and Europa:The first Sarpedon was a son of Zeus and Europa, and brother to Minos and Rhadamanthys. He was raised by the king Asterion and then, banished by Minos, his rival in love for the young Miletus, he...

, his mortal son, Zeus says:


Ah me, that it is destined that the dearest of men, Sarpedon,

must go down under the hands of Menoitios’ son Patroclus.



About his dilemma, Hera asks Zeus:


Majesty, son of Kronos, what sort of thing have you spoken?

Do you wish to bring back a man who is mortal, one long since

doomed by his destiny, from ill-sounding death and release him?

Do it, then; but not all the rest of us gods shall approve you.



In deciding — between losing a son or abiding fate — Zeus, the King of the Gods, allows it. This motif recurs when he considers sparing Hector, whom he loves and respects. Again, Athena asks him:


Father of the shining bolt, dark misted, what is this you said?

Do you wish to bring back a man who is mortal, one long since

doomed by his destiny, from ill-sounding death and release him?

Do it, then; but not all the rest of us gods shall approve you.



Again, Zeus appears capable of altering fate, but does not, deciding instead to abide set outcomes; yet, contrariwise, fate spares Aeneas, after Apollo convinces the over-matched Trojan to fight Achilles. Poseidon cautiously speaks:


But come, let us ourselves get him away from death, for fear

the son of Kronos may be angered if now Achilleus

kills this man. It is destined that he shall be the survivor,

that the generation of Dardanos shall not die. . . .



Divinely aided, Aeneas escapes the wrath of Achilles and survives the Trojan War. Whether or not the gods can alter fate, they do abide it, despite its countering their human allegiances, thus, the mysterious origin of fate is a power beyond the gods. Fate implies the primeval, tripartite division of the world that Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades effected in deposing their father, Cronus
Cronus
In Greek mythology, Cronus or Kronos was the leader and the youngest of the first generation of Titans, divine descendants of Gaia, the earth, and Uranus, the sky...

, for its dominion. Zeus took the Air and the Sky, Poseidon the Waters, and Hades the Underworld
Underworld
The Underworld is a region which is thought to be under the surface of the earth in some religions and in mythologies. It could be a place where the souls of the recently departed go, and in some traditions it is identified with Hell or the realm of death...

, the land of the dead — yet, they share dominion of the Earth. Despite the earthly powers of the Olympic gods, only the Three Fates set the destiny of Man.

Date and textual history



The poem dates to the archaic period of Classical Antiquity
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

. Scholarly consensus mostly places it in the 8th century BC, although some favour a 7th century date. Herodotus
Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

 placed Homer at approximately 400 years before his own time, circa 850 BC.

The historical backdrop of the poem is the time of the Bronze Age collapse
Bronze Age collapse
The Bronze Age collapse is a transition in southwestern Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean from the Late Bronze Age to the Early Iron Age that some historians believe was violent, sudden and culturally disruptive...

, in the early 12th century BC. Homer is thus separated from his subject matter by about 400 years, the period known as the Greek Dark Ages
Greek Dark Ages
The Greek Dark Age or Ages also known as Geometric or Homeric Age are terms which have regularly been used to refer to the period of Greek history from the presumed Dorian invasion and end of the Mycenaean Palatial civilization around 1200 BC, to the first signs of the Greek city-states in the 9th...

. Intense scholarly debate has surrounded the question of which portions of the poem preserve genuine traditions from the Mycenaean period. The Catalogue of Ships
Catalogue of Ships
The Catalogue of Ships is a passage in Book 2 of Homer's Iliad , which lists the contingents of the Achaean army that sailed to Troy...

in particular has the striking feature that its geography does not portray Greece in the Iron Age
Iron Age
The Iron Age is the archaeological period generally occurring after the Bronze Age, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing...

, the time of Homer, but as it was before the Dorian invasion
Dorian invasion
The Dorian invasion is a concept devised by historians of Ancient Greece to explain the replacement of pre-classical dialects and traditions in southern Greece by the ones that prevailed in Classical Greece...

.

The title Ἰλιάς (genitive Ἰλιάδος) is elliptic for ἡ ποίησις Ἰλιάς "the Trojan poem". Ἰλιάς "of Troy" is the specifically feminine adjective form from Ἴλιον "Troy"; the masculine adjective form would be Ἰλιακός or Ἴλιος. It is used by Herodotus
Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

 (Hist.
Histories (Herodotus)
The Histories of Herodotus is considered one of the seminal works of history in Western literature. Written from the 450s to the 420s BC in the Ionic dialect of classical Greek, The Histories serves as a record of the ancient traditions, politics, geography, and clashes of various cultures that...

2.116).

The Venetus A
Venetus A
Venetus A is the more common [or original] name for the tenth century manuscript catalogued in the Biblioteca Marciana in Venice as Codex Marcianus Graecus 454, now 822....

, created in the 10th century AD, is the oldest existing manuscript of Homer's Iliad.
The editio princeps dates to 1488, printed by Demetrius Chalcondyles
Demetrius Chalcondyles
Demetrios Chalkokondyles, latinized as Demetrius Chalcocondyles and found variously as Demetricocondyles, Chalcocondylas or Chalcondyles , was a Greek humanist, scholar and Professor who taught the Greek language in Italy for over forty years; at Padua, Perugia, Milan and Florence...

.

The Iliad as oral tradition


In antiquity, the Greeks applied the Iliad and the Odyssey as the bases of pedagogy
Pedagogy
Pedagogy is the study of being a teacher or the process of teaching. The term generally refers to strategies of instruction, or a style of instruction....

. Literature was central to the educational-cultural function of the itinerant rhapsode
Rhapsode
A rhapsode or, in modern usage, rhapsodist, refers to a classical Greek professional performer of epic poetry in the fifth and fourth centuries BC . Rhapsodes notably performed the epics of Homer but also the wisdom and catalogue poetry of Hesiod and the satires of Archilochus and others...

, who composed consistent epic poems from memory and improvisation, and disseminated them, via song and chant, in his travels and at the Panathenaic Festival of athletics, music, poetics, and sacrifice, celebrating Athena’s birthday.

Originally, Classical scholars treated the Iliad and the Odyssey as written poetry, and Homer as a writer, yet, by the 1920s, Milman Parry
Milman Parry
Milman Parry was a scholar of epic poetry and the founder of the discipline of oral tradition.-Biography:He was born in 1902 and studied at the University of California, Berkeley and at the Sorbonne . A student of the linguist Antoine Meillet at the Sorbonne, Parry revolutionized Homeric studies...

 (1902–1935) demonstrated otherwise. His investigation of the oral Homeric style — stock epithets and reiteration (words, phrases, stanzas) — established those formulae as oral tradition
Oral tradition
Oral tradition and oral lore is cultural material and traditions transmitted orally from one generation to another. The messages or testimony are verbally transmitted in speech or song and may take the form, for example, of folktales, sayings, ballads, songs, or chants...

 artifacts easily applied to an hexametric
Hexameter
Hexameter is a metrical line of verse consisting of six feet. It was the standard epic metre in classical Greek and Latin literature, such as in the Iliad and Aeneid. Its use in other genres of composition include Horace's satires, and Ovid's Metamorphoses. According to Greek mythology, hexameter...

 line. A two-word stock epithet (e.g. “resourceful Odysseus”) reiteration complements a character name by filling a half-line, thus, freeing the poet to compose a half-line of original formulaic text to complete his meaning. In Yugoslavia, Parry and his assistant, Albert Lord
Albert Lord
Albert Bates Lord was a professor of Slavic and comparative literature at Harvard University who, after the death of Milman Parry, carried on that scholar's research into epic literature.-Personal life:...

 (1912–1991), studied the oral-formulaic composition of Serbian
Serbian language
Serbian is a form of Serbo-Croatian, a South Slavic language, spoken by Serbs in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia and neighbouring countries....

 oral poetry, yielding the Parry/Lord thesis that established oral tradition
Oral tradition
Oral tradition and oral lore is cultural material and traditions transmitted orally from one generation to another. The messages or testimony are verbally transmitted in speech or song and may take the form, for example, of folktales, sayings, ballads, songs, or chants...

 studies, later developed by Eric Havelock, Marshall McLuhan
Marshall McLuhan
Herbert Marshall McLuhan, CC was a Canadian educator, philosopher, and scholar—a professor of English literature, a literary critic, a rhetorician, and a communication theorist...

, Walter Ong, et al.

In The Singer of Tales
The Singer of Tales
The Singer of Tales is a book by Albert Lord that discusses the oral tradition as a theory of literary composition and its applications to Homeric and medieval epic. It was published in 1960.-Summary:The book is divided into two parts...

(1960), Lord demonstrates likenesses between the tragedies of the Greek Patroclus, in the Iliad, and of the Sumer
Sumer
Sumer was a civilization and historical region in southern Mesopotamia, modern Iraq during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age....

ian Enkidu
Enkidu
Enkidu is a central figure in the Ancient Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh. Enkidu was first created by Anu, the sky god, to rid Gilgamesh of his arrogance. In the story he is a wild-man raised by animals and ignorant of human society until he is bedded by Shamhat...

, in the Epic of Gilgamesh
Epic of Gilgamesh
Epic of Gilgamesh is an epic poem from Mesopotamia and is among the earliest known works of literature. Scholars believe that it originated as a series of Sumerian legends and poems about the protagonist of the story, Gilgamesh king of Uruk, which were fashioned into a longer Akkadian epic much...

, and refutes, with “careful analysis of the repetition of thematic patterns”, that the Patroclus storyline upsets Homer’s established compositional formulae of “wrath, bride-stealing, and rescue”, thus, stock-phrase reiteration does not restrict his originality in fitting story to rhyme. Likewise, in The Arming Motif, Prof. James Armstrong reports that the poem’s formulae yield richer meaning because the “arming motif” diction — describing Achilles, Agamemnon, Paris, and Patroclus — serves to “heighten the importance of . . . an impressive moment”, thus, reiteration “creates an atmosphere of smoothness”, wherein, Homer distinguishes Patroclus from Achilles, and foreshadows the former’s death with positive and negative turns of phrase.

In the Iliad, occasional syntactic inconsistency is an oral tradition effect — for example, Aphrodite is “laughter-loving”, despite being painfully wounded by Diomedes (Book V, 375); and the divine representations, mixing Mycenaean and Greek Dark Age (ca. 1150–800 BC) mythologies, parallel the hereditary basilee nobles (lower social rank rulers) with minor Olympic gods, such as Scamander, et al.

Depiction of infantry combat


Despite Mycenae and Troy being maritime powers, the Iliad features no sea battles. So, the Trojan shipwright (of the ship that transported Helen to Troy), Phereclus
Phereclus
In Greek mythology, Phereclus, son of Tecton, was the shipbuilder who constructed the boat that Paris used to kidnap Helen., Meriones targeted him and killed him by ramming a spear into his right buttock...

, fights afoot, as an infantryman. The battle dress and armour of hero and soldier are well-described. They enter battle in chariot
Chariot
The chariot is a type of horse carriage used in both peace and war as the chief vehicle of many ancient peoples. Ox carts, proto-chariots, were built by the Proto-Indo-Europeans and also built in Mesopotamia as early as 3000 BC. The original horse chariot was a fast, light, open, two wheeled...

s, launching javelins into the enemy formations, then dismount — for hand-to-hand combat with yet more javelin throwing, rock throwing, and if necessary hand to hand sword and a shoulder-borne hoplon (shield) fighting. Ajax the Greater, son of Telamon, sports a large, rectangular shield (σάκος) with which he protects himself and Teucer, his brother:
Ninth came Teucer, stretching his curved bow.
He stood beneath the shield of Ajax, son of Telamon.
As Ajax cautiously pulled his shield aside,
Teucer would peer out quickly, shoot off an arrow,
hit someone in the crowd, dropping that soldier
right where he stood, ending his life—then he’d duck back,
crouching down by Ajax, like a child beside its mother.
Ajax would then conceal him with his shining shield.
(Iliad 8.267–72, Ian Johnston, translator)


Ajax’s cumbersome shield is more suitable for defence than for offence, while his cousin, Achilles, sports a large, rounded, octagonal shield that he successfully deploys along with his spear against the Trojans:
Just as a man constructs a wall for some high house,
using well-fitted stones to keep out forceful winds,
that’s how close their helmets and bossed shields lined up,
shield pressing against shield, helmet against helmet
man against man. On the bright ridges of the helmets,
horsehair plumes touched when warriors moved their heads.
That's how close they were to one another.


In describing infantry combat, Homer names the phalanx formation
Phalanx formation
The phalanx is a rectangular mass military formation, usually composed entirely of heavy infantry armed with spears, pikes, sarissas, or similar weapons...

, but most scholars do not believe the historical Trojan War was so fought. In the Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

, the chariot was the main battle transport-weapon (e.g. the Battle of Kadesh
Battle of Kadesh
The Battle of Kadesh took place between the forces of the Egyptian Empire under Ramesses II and the Hittite Empire under Muwatalli II at the city of Kadesh on the Orontes River, in what is now the Syrian Arab Republic....

). The available evidence, from the Dendra armour and the Pylos Palace paintings, indicate the Mycenaeans used two-man chariots, with a long-spear-armed principal rider, unlike the three-man Hittite chariots with short-spear-armed riders, and unlike the arrow-armed Egyptian and Assyrian two-man chariots. Nestor spearheads his troops with chariots; he advises them:
In your eagerness to engage the Trojans,
don’t any of you charge ahead of others,
trusting in your strength and horsemanship.
And don’t lag behind. That will hurt our charge.
Any man whose chariot confronts an enemy’s
should thrust with his spear at him from there.
That’s the most effective tactic, the way
men wiped out city strongholds long ago —
their chests full of that style and spirit.


Although Homer's depictions are graphic, it can be seen in the very end that victory in war is a far more somber occasion, where all that is lost becomes apparent. On the other hand, the funeral games are lively, for the dead man's life is celebrated. This overall depiction of war runs contrary to many other ancient Greek depictions, where war is an aspiration for greater glory.

Influence on classical Greek warfare


While the Homeric poems (the Iliad in particular) were not necessarily revered scripture of the ancient Greeks, they were most certainly seen as guides that were important to the intellectual understanding of any educated Greek citizen. This is evidenced by the fact that in the late fifth century BC, "it was the sign of a man of standing to be able to recite the Iliad and Odyssey by heart." Moreover, it can be argued that the warfare shown in the Iliad, and the way in which it was depicted, had a profound and very traceable effect on Greek warfare in general. In particular, the effect of epic literature can be broken down into three categories: tactics
Military tactics
Military tactics, the science and art of organizing an army or an air force, are the techniques for using weapons or military units in combination for engaging and defeating an enemy in battle. Changes in philosophy and technology over time have been reflected in changes to military tactics. In...

, ideology
Ideology
An ideology is a set of ideas that constitutes one's goals, expectations, and actions. An ideology can be thought of as a comprehensive vision, as a way of looking at things , as in common sense and several philosophical tendencies , or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to...

, and the mindset
Mindset
In decision theory and general systems theory, a mindset is a set of assumptions, methods or notations held by one or more people or groups of people which is so established that it creates a powerful incentive within these people or groups to continue to adopt or accept prior behaviors, choices,...

 of commanders. In order to discern these effects, it is necessary to take a look at a few examples from each of these categories.

Much of the detailed fighting in the Iliad is done by the heroes in an orderly, one-on-one fashion. Much like the Odyssey, there is even a set ritual which must be observed in each of these conflicts. For example, a major hero may encounter a lesser hero from the opposing side, in which case the minor hero is introduced, threats may be exchanged, and then the minor hero is slain. The victor often strips the body of its armor and military accoutrements. Here is an excellent example of this ritual and this type of one-on-one combat in the Iliad:

There Telamonian Ajax struck down the son of Anthemion,
Simoeisios in his stripling's beauty, whom once his mother
descending from Ida bore beside the banks of Simoeis
when she had followed her father and mother to tend the
sheepflocks.
Therefore they called him Simoeisios; but he could not
render again the care of his dear parents; he was shortlived,
beaten down beneath the spear of high-hearted Ajax,
who struck him as he first came forward beside the nipple
of the right breast, and the bronze spearhead drove clean
through the shoulder.


The biggest issue in reconciling the connection between the epic fighting of the Iliad and later Greek warfare is the phalanx, or hoplite, warfare seen in Greek history well after Homer's Iliad. While there are discussions of soldiers arrayed in semblances of the phalanx throughout the Iliad, the focus of the poem on the heroic fighting, as mentioned above, would seem to contradict the tactics of the phalanx. However, the phalanx did have its heroic aspects. The masculine one-on-one fighting of epic is manifested in phalanx fighting on the emphasis of holding one’s position in formation. This replaces the singular heroic competition found in the Iliad. There is no better example of this than the Spartan tale of 300 picked men fighting against 300 picked Argives. In this battle of champions, only two men are left standing for the Argives and one for the Spartans. Othryades, the remaining Spartan, goes back to stand in his formation with mortal wounds while the remaining two Argives go back to Argos to report their victory. Thus, the Spartans claimed this as a victory, as their last man displayed the ultimate feat of bravery by maintaining his position in the phalanx.

In terms of the ideology of commanders in later Greek history, the Iliad has an interesting effect. The Iliad expresses a definite disdain for tactical trickery, when Hector says, before he challenges the great Ajax:

I know how to storm my way into the struggle of flying horses;
I know how to tread the measures on the grim floor of
the war god.
Yet great as you are I would not strike you by stealth, watching
for my chance, but openly, so, if perhaps I might hit you.


However, despite examples of disdain for this tactical trickery, there is reason to believe that the Iliad, as well as later Greek warfare, endorsed tactical genius on the part of their commanders. For example, there are multiple passages in the Iliad with commanders such as Agamemnon or Nestor discussing the arraying of troops so as to gain an advantage. Indeed, the Trojan War is won by a notorious example of Greek guile in the Trojan Horse
Trojan Horse
The Trojan Horse is a tale from the Trojan War about the stratagem that allowed the Greeks finally to enter the city of Troy and end the conflict. In the canonical version, after a fruitless 10-year siege, the Greeks constructed a huge wooden horse, and hid a select force of men inside...

. This is even later referred to by Homer in the Odyssey. The connection, in this case, between guileful tactics of the Greeks in the Iliad and those of the later Greeks is not a difficult one to find. Spartan commanders, often seen as the pinnacle of Greek military prowess, were known for their tactical trickery, and, for them, this was a feat to be desired in a commander. Indeed, this type of leadership was the standard advice of Greek tactical writers.

Ultimately, while Homeric (or epic) fighting is certainly not completely replicated in later Greek warfare, many of its ideals, tactics, and instruction are.
  • Note: A large amount of the citations and argumentation in this section of the article must be ultimately attributed to:

Lendon, J.E. Soldiers and Ghosts: A History of Battle in Classical Antiquity. New Haven, CT: Yale UP, 2005.

Hans van Wees argues that the period that the descriptions of warfare relate can be pinned down fairly specifically - to the first half of the 7th century BC.

Influence on the arts and literature


The Iliad was a standard work of great importance already in Classical Greece
Classical Greece
Classical Greece was a 200 year period in Greek culture lasting from the 5th through 4th centuries BC. This classical period had a powerful influence on the Roman Empire and greatly influenced the foundation of Western civilizations. Much of modern Western politics, artistic thought, such as...

 and remained so throughout the Hellenistic
Hellenistic period
The Hellenistic period or Hellenistic era describes the time which followed the conquests of Alexander the Great. It was so named by the historian J. G. Droysen. During this time, Greek cultural influence and power was at its zenith in Europe and Asia...

 and Byzantine
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 periods. It made its return to Italy and Western Europe beginning in the 15th century, primarily through translations into Latin and the vernacular languages. Prior to this reintroduction, a shortened Latin version of the poem, known as the Ilias Latina
Ilias Latina
The Ilias Latina is a short Latin hexameter version of the Iliad of Homer that gained popularity in Antiquity and remained popular through the Middle Ages. It was very widely studied and read in Medieval schools as part of the standard Latin educational curriculum. According to Ernest Robert...

,
was very widely studied and read as a basic school text. The West, however, had tended to look at Homer as a liar as they believed they possessed much more down to earth and realistic eyewitness accounts of the Trojan War written by Dares and Dictys Cretensis
Dictys Cretensis
Dictys Cretensis of Knossus was the legendary companion of Idomeneus during the Trojan War, and the purported author of a diary of its events, that deployed some of the same materials worked up by Homer for the Iliad...

 who were supposedly present at the events. These late-antique forged accounts formed the basis of several eminently popular medieval chivalric romances, most notably those of Benoit de Sainte-Maure
Benoît de Sainte-Maure
Benoît de Sainte-Maure was a 12th century French poet, most probably from Sainte-Maure de Touraine near Tours, France. The Plantagenets' administrative center was located in Chinon - west of Tours....

 and Guido delle Colone. These in turn spawned many others in various European languages, such as the first printed English book, the 1473 Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye
Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye
Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye or Recueil des Histoires de Troye, is a French courtly romance written by Raoul Lefevre, chaplain to Philip III, Duke of Burgundy. Translated by William Caxton, and printed by him probably with Colard Mansion in 1473 or 1474 at Bruges. The work is now known...

.
Other accounts read in the Middle Ages were antique Latin retellings such as the Excidium Troiae and works in the vernaculars such as the Icelandic Troy Saga. Even without Homer, the Trojan War story had remained central to Western European medieval literary culture and its sense of identity. Most nations and several royal houses traced their origins to heroes at the Trojan War
Trojan War
In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans after Paris of Troy took Helen from her husband Menelaus, the king of Sparta. The war is among the most important events in Greek mythology and was narrated in many works of Greek literature, including the Iliad...

. Britain was supposedly settled by the Trojan Brutus
Brutus
Brutus is the cognomen of the Roman gens Junia, a prominent family of the Roman Republic. The plural of Brutus is Bruti, and the vocative form is Brute, as immortalized in the quotation "Et tu, Brute?", from Shakespeare's play, Julius Caesar....

, for instance.

Subjects from the Trojan War were a favourite among ancient Greek dramatists. Aeschylus
Aeschylus
Aeschylus was the first of the three ancient Greek tragedians whose work has survived, the others being Sophocles and Euripides, and is often described as the father of tragedy. His name derives from the Greek word aiskhos , meaning "shame"...

' trilogy, the Oresteia, comprising Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, and The Eumenides, follows the story of Agamemnon after his return from the war.

Homer also came to be of great influence in European culture with the resurgence of interest in Greek antiquity during the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

, and it remains the first and most influential work of the Western canon
Western canon
The term Western canon denotes a canon of books and, more broadly, music and art that have been the most important and influential in shaping Western culture. As such, it includes the "greatest works of artistic merit." Such a canon is important to the theory of educational perennialism and the...

.

William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

 used the plot of the Iliad as source material for his play Troilus and Cressida
Troilus and Cressida
Troilus and Cressida is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1602. It was also described by Frederick S. Boas as one of Shakespeare's problem plays. The play ends on a very bleak note with the death of the noble Trojan Hector and destruction of the love between Troilus...

, but focused on a medieval legend, the love story of Troilus
Troilus
Troilus is a legendary character associated with the story of the Trojan War...

, son of King Priam of Troy, and Cressida
Cressida
Cressida is a character who appears in many Medieval and Renaissance retellings of the story of the Trojan War. She is a Trojan woman, the daughter of Calchas a priestly defector to the Greeks...

, daughter of the Trojan soothsayer Calchas. The play, often considered to be a comedy, reverses traditional views on events of the Trojan War and depicts Achilles as a coward, Ajax as a dull, unthinking mercenary, etc.

Robert Browning
Robert Browning
Robert Browning was an English poet and playwright whose mastery of dramatic verse, especially dramatic monologues, made him one of the foremost Victorian poets.-Early years:...

's poem Development discusses his childhood introduction to the matter of the Iliad and his delight in the epic, as well as contemporary debates about its authorship.

20th century


Simone Weil
Simone Weil
Simone Weil , was a French philosopher, Christian mystic, and social activist.-Biography:Weil was born in Paris to Alsatian agnostic Jewish parents who fled the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine to Germany. She grew up in comfortable circumstances, and her father was a doctor. Her only sibling was...

 wrote the essay "The Iliad or the Poem of Force
The Iliad or the Poem of Force
The Iliad, or The Poem of Force is a 24 page essay written in 1939 by Simone Weil.The essay is about Homer's epic poem the Iliad and contains reflections on the conclusions one can draw from the epic regarding the nature of force in human affairs....

" in 1939 shortly after the commencement of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. It has been claimed that the essay describes how the Iliad demonstrates the way force, exercised to the extreme in war, reduces both victim and aggressor to the level of the slave and the unthinking automaton.

The 1954 Broadway musical The Golden Apple
The Golden Apple (musical)
The Golden Apple is a musical adaptation of parts of each of the Iliad and Odyssey epics of Homer, with music by Jerome Moross and lyrics by John Treville Latouche...

by librettist John Treville Latouche and composer Jerome Moross
Jerome Moross
Jerome Moross was an American-born composer for the stage, and a composer, conductor and orchestrator for motion pictures.-Biography:...

 was freely adapted from the Iliad and the Odyssey, re-setting the action to America
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

's Washington state in the years after the Spanish-American War
Spanish-American War
The Spanish–American War was a conflict in 1898 between Spain and the United States, effectively the result of American intervention in the ongoing Cuban War of Independence...

, with events inspired by the Iliad in Act One and events inspired by the Odyssey in Act Two.

Christa Wolf
Christa Wolf
Christa Wolf was a German literary critic, novelist, and essayist. She is one of the best-known writers to have emerged from the former East Germany.-Biography:...

's 1983 novel Cassandra
Cassandra (novel)
Cassandra was written by East German author Christa Wolf in 1984. It has since been translated into a number of languages...

is a critical engagement with the Iliad. Wolf's narrator is Cassandra, whose thoughts we hear at the moment just before her murder by Clytemnestra in Sparta. Wolf's narrator presents a feminist's view of the war, and of war in general. Cassandra's story is accompanied by four essays which Wolf delivered as the Frankfurter Poetik-Vorlesungen. The essays present Wolf's concerns as a writer and rewriter of this canonical story and show the genesis of the novel through Wolf's own readings and in a trip she took to Greece.

Contemporary popular culture


An epic science fiction adaptation/tribute by acclaimed author Dan Simmons
Dan Simmons
Dan Simmons is an American author most widely known for his Hugo Award-winning science fiction series, known as the Hyperion Cantos, and for his Locus-winning Ilium/Olympos cycle....

 titled Ilium
Ilium (novel)
Ilium is a science fiction novel by Dan Simmons, the first part of the Ilium/Olympos cycle, concerning the re-creation of the events in the Iliad on an alternate earth and Mars. These events are set in motion by beings who have taken on the roles of the Greek gods...

was released in 2003. The novel received a Locus Award
Locus Award
The Locus Award is a literary award established in 1971 and presented to winners of Locus magazine's annual readers' poll. Currently, the Locus Awards are presented at an annual banquet...

 for best science fiction novel of 2003.

Yokanaan Kearns wrote a stage version of The Iliad titled "Dis/Troy." The one-hour adaptation aimed at adolescents, in which four actors play all the major characters, was workshopped and read to the public at the Kennedy Center 2002 New Visions/New Voices Festival, premiered in 2003 at Honolulu Theatre for Youth, and published by Playscripts Inc.

A loose film adaptation of the Iliad, Troy, was released in 2004. Though the film received mixed reviews, it was a commercial success, particularly in international sales. It grossed $133 million in the United States and $497 million worldwide, placing it in the 88th top-grossing movies of all time.

Intertextuality
Intertextuality
Intertextuality is the shaping of texts' meanings by other texts. It can include an author’s borrowing and transformation of a prior text or to a reader’s referencing of one text in reading another. The term “intertextuality” has, itself, been borrowed and transformed many times since it was coined...

 was utilized by Craig Janacek in his 2011 novel The Anger of Achilles Peterson, where the story of the Iliad is relived by professional basketball players in 1927 Albany and Troy, New York.

English translations




George Chapman
George Chapman
George Chapman was an English dramatist, translator, and poet. He was a classical scholar, and his work shows the influence of Stoicism. Chapman has been identified as the Rival Poet of Shakespeare's Sonnets by William Minto, and as an anticipator of the Metaphysical Poets...

 published his translation of the Iliad, in instalments, beginning in 1598, published in “fourteeners”, a long-line ballad metre that “has room for all of Homer’s figures of speech and plenty of new ones, as well as explanations in parentheses. At its best, as in Achilles’ rejection of the embassy in Iliad Nine; it has great rhetorical power”. It quickly established itself as a classic in English poetry. In the preface to his own translation, Pope praises “the daring fiery spirit” of Chapman’s rendering, which is “something like what one might imagine Homer, himself, would have writ before he arrived at years of discretion”. John Keats
John Keats
John Keats was an English Romantic poet. Along with Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley, he was one of the key figures in the second generation of the Romantic movement, despite the fact that his work had been in publication for only four years before his death.Although his poems were not...

 praised Chapman in the sonnet On First Looking into Chapman's Homer
On First Looking into Chapman's Homer
 Much have I travell'd in the realms of gold, And many goodly states and kingdoms seen; Round many western islands have I been Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold. Oft of one wide expanse had I been told...

(1816). John Ogilby
John Ogilby
John Ogilby was a Scottish translator, impresario and cartographer. Best known for publishing the first British road atlas, he was also a successful translator, noted for publishing his work in handsome illustrated editions.-Life:Ogilby was born in or near Killemeare in November 1600...

’s mid-seventeenth-century translation is among the early annotated editions; Alexander Pope
Alexander Pope
Alexander Pope was an 18th-century English poet, best known for his satirical verse and for his translation of Homer. He is the third-most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, after Shakespeare and Tennyson...

’s 1715 translation, in heroic couplet, is “The classic translation that was built on all the preceding versions”, and, like Chapman’s, it is a major poetic work in its own right. William Cowper
William Cowper
William Cowper was an English poet and hymnodist. One of the most popular poets of his time, Cowper changed the direction of 18th century nature poetry by writing of everyday life and scenes of the English countryside. In many ways, he was one of the forerunners of Romantic poetry...

’s Miltonic, blank verse 1791 edition is highly regarded for its greater fidelity to the Greek than either the Chapman or the Pope versions: “I have omitted nothing; I have invented nothing”, Cowper says in prefacing his translation.

In the lectures On Translating Homer
On Translating Homer
On Translating Homer, published in January 1861, was a printed version of the series of public lectures given by Matthew Arnold as Professor of Poetry at Oxford from 3 November 1860 to 18 December 1860....

(1861), Matthew Arnold
Matthew Arnold
Matthew Arnold was a British poet and cultural critic who worked as an inspector of schools. He was the son of Thomas Arnold, the famed headmaster of Rugby School, and brother to both Tom Arnold, literary professor, and William Delafield Arnold, novelist and colonial administrator...

 addresses the matters of translation and interpretation in rendering the Iliad to English; commenting upon the versions contemporarily available in 1861, he identifies the four essential poetic qualities of Homer to which the translator must do justice:


[i] that he is eminently rapid; [ii] that he is eminently plain and direct, both in the evolution of his thought and in the expression of it, that is, both in his syntax and in his words; [iii] that he is eminently plain and direct in the substance of his thought, that is, in his matter and ideas; and, finally, [iv] that he is eminently noble.


After a discussion of the metres employed by previous translators, Arnold argues for a poetical dialect hexameter translation of the Iliad, like the original. “Laborious as this meter was, there were at least half a dozen attempts to translate the entire Iliad or Odyssey in hexameters; the last in 1945. Perhaps the most fluent of them was by J. Henry Dart [1862] in response to Arnold”.

In 1870, the American poet William Cullen Bryant
William Cullen Bryant
William Cullen Bryant was an American romantic poet, journalist, and long-time editor of the New York Evening Post.-Youth and education:...

 published a blank verse version, that Van Wyck Brooks
Van Wyck Brooks
Van Wyck Brooks was an American literary critic, biographer, and historian.- Biography :Brooks was educated at Harvard University and graduated in 1908...

 describes as “simple, faithful”. Moreover, since 1950, there have been several English translations. Richmond Lattimore
Richmond Lattimore
Richmond Alexander Lattimore was an American poet and translator known for his translations of the Greek classics, especially his versions of the Iliad and Odyssey, which are generally considered as among the best English translations available.Born to David and Margaret Barnes Lattimore in...

’s version is “a free six-beat” line-for-line rendering that explicitly eschews “poetical dialect” for “the plain English of today”. It is literal, unlike older verse renderings. Robert Fitzgerald
Robert Fitzgerald
Robert Stuart Fitzgerald was a poet, critic and translator whose renderings of the Greek classics "became standard works for a generation of scholars and students." He was best known as a translator of ancient Greek and Latin...

's version strives to situate the Iliad in the musical forms of English poetry. His forceful version is freer, with shorter lines that increase the sense of swiftness and energy.

Robert Fagles
Robert Fagles
Robert Fagles was an American professor, poet, and academic, best known for his many translations of ancient Greek classics, especially his acclaimed translations of the epic poems of Homer...

 and Stanley Lombardo
Stanley Lombardo
Stanley F. Lombardo is an American professor of Classics at the University of Kansas. He is best known for his translations of the Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Aeneid...

 are bolder in adding dramatic significance to Homer’s conventional and formulaic language.

Manuscripts

  • Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 20
    Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 20
    Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 20 consists of twelve fragments of the second book of the Iliad, written in Greek. It was discovered by Grenfell and Hunt in 1897 in Oxyrhynchus. The fragment is dated to the second century. It is housed in the British Library...

  • Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 21
    Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 21
    Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 21 is a fragment of the second book of the Iliad, written in Greek. It was discovered by Grenfell and Hunt in 1897 in Oxyrhynchus. The fragment is dated to the first or second century. It is housed in the University of Chicago Oriental Institute...

  • Codex Nitriensis
    Codex Nitriensis
    Codex Nitriensis designated by R or 027 , ε 22 , is a 6th century Greek New Testament codex containing the Gospel of Luke, in a fragmentary condition. It is a two column manuscript in majuscules , measuring .- Description :The text is written in two columns per page, 25 lines per page, in large...

  • Uncial 098
    Uncial 098
    Uncial 098 , α 1025 , is a Greek uncial manuscript of the New Testament, dated palaeographically to the 7th century. It is also named Codex Cryptoferratensis .- Description :...


Further reading


External links