The Iliad (sometimes referred to as the Song of Ilion or Song of Ilium) is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy (Ilium) by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles. 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, 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, a literary amalgam of Ionic Greek with other dialects.
(1) After an invocation to the Muses, the story launches in medias res towards the end of the Trojan War between the Trojans and the besieging Greeks. Chryses, a Trojan priest of Apollo, offers the Greeks wealth for the return of his daughter Chryseis, a captive of Agamemnon, the Greek leader. Although most of the Greek army is in favor 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, the leader of the Myrmidon contingent, calls an assembly to solve the plague problem. Under pressure, Agamemnon agrees to return Chryseis to her father, but also decides to take Achilles's captive, Briseis, as compensation. Angered, Achilles declares that he and his men will no longer fight for Agamemnon, but will go home. Odysseus 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, to ask Zeus that the Greeks be brought to the breaking point by the Trojans, so Agamemnon will realize how much the Greeks need Achilles. Thetis does so, Zeus agrees, (2) 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, stops the rout. Odysseus confronts and beats Thersites, 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, the Trojans too sortie upon the plain. In a similar list to that for the Greeks, the poet describes the Trojans and their allies. (3) The armies approach each other on the plain, but before they meet, Paris offers to end the war by fighting a duel with Menelaus, to the advice and will of his brother and head of the Trojan army, Hector. While Helen tells Priam 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 rescues him and leads him to bed with Helen before Menelaus could kill him. (4) Pressured by Hera's hatred of Troy, Zeus arranges for the Trojan Pandaros to break the truce by wounding Menelaus with an arrow. Agamemnon rouses the Greeks, and battle is joined. (5) In the fighting, Diomedes kills many Trojans and defeats Aeneas, whom again Aphrodite rescues, but Diomedes attacks and wounds the goddess. Apollo faces Diomedes, and warns him against warring with gods. Many heroes and...
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