Homer is considered to be Iliad’s author. The question of authorship of this work is still a burning subject in literary world. There are two ruling opinions. One believe that Iliad was composed through merge of different poems sang by various poets. They think that one single poet wasn’t capable of writing such a long work and they believed that Homer just gathered songs into one big epic poem. The others believe that Homer wrote “Iliad” and their ground are the three unities of the text – unity of texts, composition and character description which wouldn’t be possible if the work was done by more than one author.
Iliad has 24 books and it is composed out of 15 696 hexameters. The main theme is Achilles’ rage. The author narrates the events from the war between Achaeans and Trojans. The war began when Paris abducted Helena, Menelaus’ sister. The plot is extended to 51 days. This epic was named by Ilium, Troy’s name in the epic. The plot begins in medias res when the poet invokes the muse to help him describe Achilles’ rage.
The plot is slowed down by various descriptions, repetitions, digressions and comparisons. The plot is started with Achilles’ rage at the beginning and his desire to avenge Patroclus. The epic is written using inversion which increases the dynamic and the rhythm of the plot. Homer uses hyperbola to emphasize the hero’s characteristics, their flaws, and virtues. The main characteristic of this work is sublime tone, which was, in general, the epic poem characteristic. The language is archaic which is no wonder considering the time when the epic was written.
The poet invokes the muses the help him write about Achilles’ rage. That rage made the Achaeans furious and because of it many became bird’s and dog’s prey.
Agamemnon and Achilles got into a fight. A priest came to the Achaeans to redeem his daughter. The priest told them that god has given them the power to tear down Priam’s city and that in return he should get his daughter back. Achaeans were ready to accept the offer but Agamemnon didn’t want to give his daughter back. He wanted her to be his lover. The priest listened to Agamemnon and then went to Apollo saying he will build him a temple when he punishes Achaeans and make them pay for every tear he wasted. Arrows were raining on the military for nine days. Anyone who would get hit would get the plague.
On the tenth day, Achilles called a meeting and he was persuaded to do so be Hera. The man who knew the present and the future told Achilles that they will not rest until the priest’s daughter is given back. Agamemnon rebels, even though he had a wife, and says he will give her back if they give them a present. Achilles got angry with Agamemnon, calls his greedy, and says that he will pay for his attitude. Agamemnon told Achilles that he will take the priest’s daughter and that then he will take Achilles’ Briseis just to prove how strong he was. Achilles was furious and tried to attack Agamemnon with a sword. Athena came and controls his anger, claiming that one day it will all pay off. Odyssey took the priest’s daughter back to him.
Agamemnon didn’t give up on his intentions so he sent his military to take Briseis from Achilles’ tent. Achilles didn’t blame the army, but Agamemnon and Patroclus took out Briseis and handed her over to the military. When she was taken away Achilles sat down crying and talking to his mother. He told her everything that had happened. Achilles asked his mother to go to Zeus and ask him that he makes Trojans defeat Achaeans so that everyone would hate Agamemnon as much as he does. Odyssey took the priest’s daughter back and he asked Apollo to spare Achaeans the misery and death. Achilles’ mother went to Zeus asking him to punish Agamemnon. Zeus promises to help which makes Hera angry. Her son Hephaestus advised her to do as Zeus says because no one was stronger than him.
Everyone was asleep, except for Zeus who was searching of ways to help Achilles. He sent a dream to Agamemnon in which he told him to prepare his military for combat because he could conquer Troy. Agamemnon woke up and he retold his dream to Achaeans. Nestor supported Agamemnon. Ossa, Zeus’s messenger, called the people to a meeting so that they would hear Zeus’s children’s words. The gathering was led by Agamemnon. He claimed that their military was bigger than the Trojans but that the Trojans were always being helped by the other cities. For nine years they weren’t able to do the jobs they came there for so Agamemnon told the people to go home saying they won’t tear down the town.
The fight was going on for nine years already. Hera reproached Athena because they left Helena with the Trojans while so many people were dying because of her. Athena went to the Achaeans to tell them they can’t go home when she stumbled upon Odyssey who was as wise as Zeus. Athena told him what she heard from Hera and Odyssey listened to her. He went to Agamemnon telling him the story about the snake and the mother with seven baby birds. The story was actually about nine years of waiting and the tenth being the key one. Nestor encouraged the people to avenge Helena’s cry. Agamemnon came saying that the fight started because of her. Everyone went to get ready for the fight. Agamemnon made a feast and his brother Menelaus joined him. Agamemnon asked Zeus to help him destroy Priam and Hector. The poet invokes the muses to tell him how many people came to Ilium because he was unable to count them all. Trojan’s messenger came telling Trojans that there were too many Achaeans and that he needs to search for help.
The militaries were getting closer to one another. Paris was leading the Troans but when he saw Menelaus coming their way he got scared and ran away. Hector reproached him for it saying he was the cause of the war. He started it abducting Menelaus’ wife Helena. Paris asked for a one on one duel. Menelaus wanted to settle this in peace. He wanted to see Priam and two lambs – one black and one white.
A messenger told everything that was happening to Helena. Priam asked Helena about Agamemnon and Odyssey – who were they and how they were. Priam and the lamb were brought to the battlefield. They told Zeus that the one who wins the duel gets Helena. Priam went back to Ilium because he couldn’t watch the confrontation between Paris and Menelaus. Menelaus injured Paris and dragged him by his helmet. Aphrodite got involved in saving Paris. Menelaus won but Paris still refused to let Helena go.
The gods had a gathering. Agamemnon had two helpers – Hera and Athena and Aphrodite was prone to Paris. Zeus wanted for the Trojans and Achaeans to make peace but Hera refused it. Zeus sent Athena back amongst the Trojans and the Achaeans. She went to Pandarus and asked him to shot an arrow an injure Menelaus. Agamemnon thought that the Trojans crossed the line and that they want war. The poet writes a detail description of the Trojans. They came from all around. The battle began. Apollo was on the Trojans side and Achilles was nowhere to be seen.
Athena honored Diomedes to be the best of the Achaeans. Hephaestus’ priest had two sons. They attacked Diomedes but missed. He killed one of them and the other one was saved by Hephaestus. Athena talks to Aphrodite’s brother and advised him to step out of the battle because it was time that the people fought without god’s help. Diomedes fought with Pandarus and a raven told the Trojans that the best one of the Achaeans was injured. Diomedes asked Athena to give him strength.
Aeneas, the best Trojan leader, made an agreement with Pandarus to attack Diomedes. A battle between Pandarus and Diomedes took place in which Diomedes killed his opponent and injured Aeneas. Aphrodite, Aeneas’ mother, ran to his rescue. Diomedes ran after Aphrodite angry because she interfered with the war. Aphrodite went to find a horse so that she could go back to Olympus. Zeus confronted Aphrodite about the war not being any of her business. Diomedes attacked Aeneas again and this time he was saved by Apollo. Athena helped the Achaeans. Aeneas was thought to be dead but when he appears amongst the people the rumors are proven to be false.
The militaries were standing on the opposite sides and it is described how they killed each other. Athena encouraged Diomedes to keep on fighting and told him that she was by his side. Diomedes managed to injure one of the gods who was of course saved. He went to Olympus and told Zeus all about Athena’s doings. He was angry because Zeus allowed her to behave in such a way.
The battle was still raging on. Nestor encouraged Achaeans to keep on killing and to take the dead men’s weapons. A mage came to Aeneas and Hector to encourage them. He advised Hector to gather all of the older women in Athena’s temple and tell them to ask Athena to spare the lives of Trojan children and women. Hector listened to him and told the Trojans that he was going to Ilium.
Glaucus and Diomedes start a fight but then they realize they used to be friends so instead of killing each other, they give gifts. Glaucus gave Diomedes a golden weapon in exchange for a brass one. Hector entered the city and the women gathered around asking about their husbands. He went to Hecuba, his mother. She thought he will ask Zeus for help but he told her what the mage told him. Hector told Hecuba to tell Athena that she will receive the best cape and a sacrifice if she manages to get Diomedes away from Troy. Hector came to Paris. Helena was sitting in her room. Hector called Paris the biggest misfortune of all because he was the one to blame for the war and now he was hiding. Paris tells him that he isn’t a coward and that he was grieving and not hiding but Helena persuaded him to go to war.
Hector came to say goodbye to his family but he couldn’t find them. His wife Andromache was on the tower crying because Achilles killed her father recently and she begged Hector not to go to war because he was all that she had. Hector explained that he had to go and she was scared that the Achaeans will take her as a hostage. Paris came, fully equipped, and they went to war.
Athena saw the Achaeans being killed and she wasn’t pleased with it. She went to Olympus and saw Apollo. They came to an agreement that Hector should challenge one Achaean. A mage came to tell Hector to do so. Athena and Apollo were observing the situation. Hector asked an Achaean to fight him. Menelaus claims that it will be a disgrace if no one accepts his challenge so he starts to get ready. Agamemnon tried to talk him out of it because Hector was an excellent fighter. They decided to randomly pick someone and they’ve picked Ajax who thought that he could win. The rest of them were praying to Zeus.
Ajax and Hector went into combat which lasted the whole night and the next day. They praised each other and gave gifts to each other. Hector gave Ajax his sword and Ajax gave him his belt. In the evening the confronted sides gathered meetings to discuss the war. Achaeans talked about the men they have lost. Priam asked for a truce so that they could bury their dead. A messenger came to the Achaeans saying that Paris still doesn’t want to give Helen back but that he was ready to give them gold instead of her. The Achaeans agreed to a one-day truce.
Zeus gathered the gods and ordered them not to interfere with the war anymore. in the afternoon a battle took place and it was continued after lunch. When they continued the battle the Achaeans were defeated. Zeus sent two death bearers – one to the Achaeans and one to the Trojans but both of them went to Achaeans. They started to retract. Nestor remained because his horse was injured by Paris. Diomedes wanted to help him so he took his horse and together they went after Hector.
When Zeus saw that Diomedes had saved Nestor he sent lighting on Diomedes so he had to make his horses go the opposite directions. Nestor claimed that he can’t go against Zeus’s will. Hector called Diomedes a coward. He was in doubt whether or not he should attack Hector but Zeus made the thunders rage one three more times as a sign of the Trojan’s victory. Hector encouraged the Trojans. Hera wanted to help the Achaeans and tried to convince Poseidon to help her but he didn’t want to get on Zeus’s bad side.
Agamemnon went to his Achaeans to reproach them for not being heroes. He begged Zeus to help Achaeans run away from the Trojans. Zeus granted his wish. The Achaeans’ hero who killed a lot of Trojans attacked Hercules and he fought back and, thanks to Zeus’s help, he managed to injure him. Hera was convincing Athena to help the Achaeans. Athena went to Zeus and he saw her coming so he sent a messenger to tell her that she doesn’t come near him because he will destroy her. Zeus didn’t allow anyone to help the Achaeans. He went back to Olympus and declared an even bigger defeat. Hector gathered a meeting to make battle plans.
Agamemnon was sad and the military was scared. Agamemnon claimed that Zeus tricked him and thought they need to go back home. Diomedes was against it. They agree to have seven guards. Nestor told Agamemnon that he was wrong when he took Briseis away from Achilles and that he should redeem himself. Agamemnon agreed and gave presents and Briseis to a messenger who was supposed to take them to Achilles. Odyssey went to Achilles who was glad to see him. Odyssey told him Agamemnon’s message and complained about how miserable the army was and that they were desperate for his help. Achilles didn’t want Agamemnon’s presents or Briseis. He sent Odyssey back to tell Agamemnon that he was still angry. Achilles didn’t know what to do and Phoenix convinced him to help the Achaeans. Achilles was very angry with Agamemnon and he refused to help Achaeans until Hector doesn’t get close to them. Odyssey brought another message from Agamemnon. They decided to continue the battle even without Achilles.
Achaeans were still holding their meeting. Agamemnon and Menelaus were unable to sleep because they didn’t know what to do. Nestor suggested to Diomedes and Odyssey to go and spy on the Trojans. They got ready and prayed to Athena. No one was asleep in Hector’s tent. He sent one of his men to see is everything was alright with their boats. Diomedes and Odyssey caught him and he begged for his life when they started questioning him about everything that happened in Hector’s tent. They killed him when they found out what they wanted. Odyssey and Diomedes went to Hector’s tent. When they came back to the Achaeans they told them what they did. The two of them killed 13 of Hector’s people and took away their horses.
A battle took place until noon. Agamemnon attacked and injured the Trojans. Zeus sent his messenger to tell Hector to stay away from Agamemnon. Agamemnon was injured. Paris injured Diomedes but Odyssey saved him and he too ended up injured. Ajax wanted to shot arrows at Trojans but Zeus stopped him. Achilles sent Patroclus to Nestor to see what was going on at the battlefield. He was sure that the Achaeans will call him to help them. Nestor named all of the injured to Patroclus and asked him to join the battle. Patroclus went back to Achilles and saved an injured Achaean.
There was a battle around the rampart. The Trojans were getting ready to attack. They had 5 fronts and attacked all at one. Achaeans saw the Trojans coming. Hector was attacking from the middle. A snake fell out of an eagle’s mouth amongst the Trojans. Some of them thought it was a sign to retract. The Trojans vainly tried to break the rampart. Hector didn’t believe that the snake was a sign so he continued the battle. Zeus sent Sarpedon to attack the Achaeans and Sarpedon asked Galucus to join forces with him. Glaucus and Sarpedon were injured. The battle brought no result because the Trojans didn’t manage to bring down the rampart and the Achaeans didn’t manage to protect it from the Trojans. Hector encouraged the Trojans. He took a rock, aimed for the door and broke through them. He told the Trojans to climb up on the rampart. Achaeans started to run away.
Zeus looked away from the battle for a minute and Poseidon took advantage of it to help the Achaeans. Poseidon encouraged them, gave them strength and resistance. Hector tried vainly to break the Achaeans’ front. Idomeneus and his friend managed to kill a couple of the Trojan heroes. Aeneas and Paris came to help and an awful battle starts. Hector was stuck in the middle. He was advised to retract and make a new attack plan. He wasn’t aware that his people were being killed because Poseidon decided to take the matter into his own hands. He found Paris and questioned him about all the injured men. They went into the battle again.
The injured leaders had a meeting. Nestor told the Achaeans that the rampart was torn down. Hera talked to Aphrodite who sided with the Trojans. They had a plan to resolve the situation. Hera went to seduce Zeus and then she put him into a deep sleep. Poseidon was still with the Achaeans, encouraging them. Hector and Ajax were fighting. Hector injured him but he hit him with a rock and Hector ended up unconscious. When Achaeans see that Hector was wounded they became even braver and strike harder.
Zeus woke up and made Hera leave. He was aware that he was tricked and he was very angry with Hera. Zeus told Poseidon not to get involved anymore and then he made a prophecy. He said that Hector will kill Patroclus after he kill Sarpedon and that Achilles will kill Hector. Her gathered the gods at Olympus. Ares was angry because he lost his son in the battle and he wanted his revenge, even if it meant getting into a fight with Zeus. Zeus called Apollo to come to Id and sent a messenger to tell Poseidon to stay out of the war but Poseidon refused to listen to him. Apollo healed Hector because Zeus asked him to. Achaeans managed to push the Trojans back to their boats. Hector attacked. Patroclus encouraged Achilles to help them in their battle. Trojans were getting stronger and their boats were in danger. Hector was fighting with Ajax and he killed his servant. Hector was aimed to be killed but Zeus interfered. The battle raged on and no one was close to victory. Hector realized that Zeus was trying to save him.
Patroclus begged Achilles to let him go into the war but he wasn’t aware of going into his own death. Achilles allowed it and asked him not to go over his limits. Achilles gave him his equipment. Patroclus encouraged the soldiers and since he was wearing Achilles’ equipment everyone thought that it was actually Achilles. The Achaeans managed to push the Trojans away from their boats which the Trojans wanted to set on fire. Patroclus was successful and the Trojans were defeated. The battle took place on a plain. Patroclus killed Sarpedon as Zeus predicted. A battle because of his body started. The army got close to Ilium. Patroclus wanted to enter the city and Apollo was encouraging Hector. Patroclus attacked Apollo and Hector injured him to protect Apollo.
Menelaus was walking amongst the soldiers and he was angry because he heard what had happened to Patroclus. Menelaus injured a soldier to avenge Patroclus and took his weapon. He thought if he should let the dead man rest in peace. Hector came and Menelaus left the dead man, retracted and then attacked Hector with Ajax. They wanted to get Patroclus body and bring it back to Achilles. Hector took the weapons off of Patroclus and dragged him to the Trojan’s dogs.
Galucus reproached Hector about being weak in the battle and letting Trojans kill themselves and for not saving Sarpedon’s body. Hector puts on the equipment he took off of Patroclus. Zeus was angry and tells Hector that he doesn’t even know how close to death he was. A battle for Patroclus body started. Zeus sent fog to cover the body. Aeneas didn’t want to surrender because he knew that Zeus was on their side. The battle lasted the whole day and Achilles didn’t know that Patroclus was dead. Achilles horses were crying so Zeus gave them strength. Athena, in the Phoenix form, encouraged the Achaeans and gave Menelaus the strength he needed. Apollo took on another form and encouraged Hector who then went to attack. Achaeans knew that Zeus was helping the Trojans but they still prayed to him. Achilles found out about Patroclus death. Menelaus encouraged Ajax to go and get Patroclus body. Ajax distracted the Trojans while Menelaus was getting the body.
Thetis, Achilles’ mother, was sad because Patroclus was like a son for her. She went to Achilles and told him that Hephaestus will make his new weapons. A messenger came to Achilles to tell him that he needs to avenge Patroclus’s death. The Trojans were having a meeting. Polydamas wanted to retract. Patroclus was being grieved by the Achaeans. Thetis came to Hephaestus and told him all that had happened so he made Achilles a new shield. The shield had five circles. In the center of the shield were the Earth, sky, sea, sun and the moon. The first circle showed two cities full of people. The second circle had a field being ploughed and the outer circle represented the ocean.
Thetis brought Achilles his weapon. A meeting was being held in Achaeans’ tent. Achilles wanted to make peace with Agamemnon. Achilles, Agamemnon, and Odyssey discussed the beginning of the fight. Agamemnon gave Briseis back to Achilles. She cried next to Patroclus body. Achilles got armed for the battle.
The gods also held a meeting. Zeus allowed them to join the battle and the first battle of gods took place. Achilles fought with Aeneas who was weaker and Poseidon told him to stay away from Achilles. Apollo was on Aeneas side and he helped him in his battle. Achilles attacked the Troyan army. He went after Hector but Apollo sawed him. Achilles got angry and started slaughtering Trojans one at a time.
The battle was now taking place at the river. Achilles was fighting with the river god Scamander. The river tried to drown him but he was saved by Athena and Poseidon. The second battle of gods starts between Ares, Athena, Aphrodite, Apollo, Poseidon, Artemis, Hera… Priam was looking at his men suffering and he left the doors of the city open in case they want to run away and shelter themselves. Agenor, who was protected by Apollo, waited for Achilles to start a duel with him. The soldiers went back to the city.
Hector wanted to wait for Achilles. When he saw him he started to run around the walls and Achilles ran after him. They came to the source of Skamander and continued to chase one another. They circled the walls three times when Athena, taking the form of Hector’s brother, came to him and claimed to be by his side as long as he confronts Achilles. Hector threw spears and Athena aimed them. Hector realized that he was being fooled and that his brother wasn’t there. Achilles knew about a flaw on Hector’s armor (because it was actually Achilles’ armor which Hector took off of Patroclus’ body). He aimed for that flaw and killed Hector. Hector begged Achilles to give his body back to the Trojans but Achilles pierced Hector’s veins and tied him to a cola. Hecuba, Priam and Andromache looked at Achilles while he disfigured Hector’s body. Priam wanted to go and get his son’s body.
They held a ceremony for Patroclus. Achilles said goodbye to him and on the 28th day, they buried his body. They burned his body. Achilles was crushed. The next day the bones were buried. Achaeans had a feast to honor Patroclus.
From 30th to the 38th day Achilles disfigured Hector’s body dragging him around Patroclus’s grave. Gods had a meeting. The gods decided that Hector’s body should be given back to the Trojans. Apollo sided with Hector. Zeus asked Thetis to go to Priam and ask him for gifts in exchange for his son’s body. Priam was getting ready to see Achilles. Priam still didn’t believe that Achilles will give him his son’s body. Priam went to Achilles and both of them cried – Priam because of his son and Achilles because of Patroclus. Achilles gave the body back and Priam gave him the gifts. They had dinner together and Priam went back with the body. On the 40th day Hector was being grieved. Andromache, Hecuba and Helen grieved for him. Priam and Achilles came to an agreement to stop the war until Hector isn’t buried. Trojans gathered wood for 9 days to make a fire worthy of Hector. On the 50th day he was burned and his bones were buried the next days.
Time: 12th century BC.
Place: Troy, Olympus
The characters can be divided into two opposite sides: Trojans and Achaeans and gods and peoples. Iliad has a great variety of important and side characters. Achaean hero Achilles is in the middle of the plot and his opposite is Hector. Gods also play an important role in the plot because they steer the plot and decide the outcome of the battle. The gods are described as people who had supernatural power. They, as well as people, have feelings, got into arguments and tricked each other.
Trojans: Hector, Priam, Paris, Aeneas, Glaucus, Sarpedon, Helen, Andromache, Hecuba
Achaeans: Achilles, Agamemnon, Menelaus, Patroclus, Nestor, Diomedes, Odyssey, Briseis
Gods: Zeus, Apollo, Hra, Hephaestus, Athena, Thetis, Aphrodite, Ares, Poseidon
Achilles is a warrior and half-god. He was son of Thetis and Peleus. He was good looking, brave, powerful, honest and driven by emotions like anger which he cannot contain. Homer doesn’t describe him as a perfect hero but as a person with flaws and virtues. He had a lot of pride which costs him Patroclus’ life. In the end he shows his humane side when he gives Priam Hector’s body. His pride was sort of the cause of Patroclus’ death. He was in love with Briseis.
Hector was Priam and Hecuba’s son and the Trojan hero. Unlike Achilles, he was driven by his obligation to his men and city. In the beginning, he tries to avoid the war by suggesting a duel between Paris and Menelaus but the duel was tied due to gods’ interference. He didn’t give up on his fight even when he was advised to do so. He had Apollo’s support. He fought one on one with Ajax and reproached his brother about not going to war.
Patroclus was Achilles’ friend. He was devoted to him, yearned to go to war and prove himself. Achilles respected his decision to do it.He was strong, brave, faithful and resilient. Hector killed him with Apollo’s help.
Paris was a Trojan prince and Hector’s brother. He abducted Helen and started the Trojan war with his act. He was described as a coward in the beginning because he ran away from the war but he joined his brother.
Agamemnon was Achaeans’ king. He provoked Apollo’s rage and brought a plague upon his soldiers. He got into a fight with Achilles because he wanted to show his superiority by abducting Briseis. He was bossy and greedy. Agamemnon always thought of himself and hurt his people by doing it. He acted heroic in the war and got killed.
Zeus was the main god. He was supposed to be impartial and he told the other gods not to interfere but he took the Trojan’s side. He was wise and smart.
Athena was the goddess of wisdom and war. She was on Achaean’s side.
Hephaestus was the god of fire and blacksmith art. He was the only god who didn’t interfere directly into the war but when Thetis asked him he made a shield for Achilles.
Homer lived somewhere between 900 and 700 B.C. He is the oldest known Greek author, and he was from Anatolia.
Besides Iliad and Odyssey, it is thought he had written many other epics about gods and the parody “Batrachomyomachia” or “Battle of Frogs and Mice”.
His job was unknown, and so was the place where he lived. We can only come to a conclusion about his whereabouts from some verses which states seven cities were his home. After his death, a whole community dedicated to narrating his verses appeared in Anatolia, and they called themselves Homeridae.
He was described as a blind poet who traveled from one place to another reciting his poems, but not even that information can be perceived as true.