The Iliad Book Summary

The Iliad Summary & Quotes & Questions and Answers, it is about Ilium (Troy)") is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is one of the oldest extant works of literature still widely read by modern audiences. As with the Odyssey, the poem is divided into 24 books and was written in dactylic hexameter. It contains 15,693 lines in its most widely accepted version.

Set towards the end of the Trojan War, a ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Mycenaean Greek states, the poem depicts significant events in the siege's final weeks. In particular, it depicts a fierce quarrel between King Agamemnon and a celebrated warrior, Achilles. It is a central part of the Epic Cycle. The Iliad is often regarded as the first substantial piece of European literature.

The Iliad Poem Summary, The Iliad Summary
The Iliad Poem Summary

Synopsis of The Iliad

In the tenth year of the Trojan War, tensions are running high among the Achaians (a super-ancient name for the Ancient Greeks). First, the priest Chryses comes to ask their leader, King Agamemnon, to release his daughter, whom Agamemnon was holding captive. When Agamemnon refuses, the priest prays to the god Apollo to send a plague against the Achaians.

After nine days of plague, the Achaians assemble again and demand that Agamemnon give the girl back. Agamemnon eventually agrees, but only if he gets to take Briseis, the girlfriend of Achilleus, the greatest warrior of the Achaians. Even though Achilleus gives her up, he becomes so enraged that he refuses to fight any more. That and he prays to his mother, Thetis, who happens to be a goddess, to pull some strings with the other gods so that the Achaians will start getting defeated in battle and realize how much they depend on him.

Achilleus's mom definitely spoils him. She gets Zeus, the king of the gods, to agree to Achilleus's request. Sure enough, the next day the Trojans make a successful counterattack, led by Hektor, their greatest warrior. Several days of violent fighting follow, at the end of which the Trojans have the Achaians pinned against the beach, and are threatening to burn their ships.

At this point, Achilleus's best friend Patroklos asks for permission to go into battle in Achilleus's place. Achilleus grants Patroklos's request, and even lets him wear his armor. Patroklos's gambit is successful —when the Trojans see him, they think he must be Achilleus and become absolutely terrified. The plan goes off the rails, however, when Hektor kills Patroklos—with the help of the god Apollo and a minor Trojan warrior named Euphorbos. Hektor then takes the armor off Patroklos's body.

When Achilleus learns of the death of his friend, he experiences terrible grief and swears revenge. He sends his mother, Thetis, to get a new suit of armor made especially for him by the fire-god, Hephaistos. The next day, Achilleus rejoins the battle and kills many Trojans, including Hektor in a one-on-one battle.

But Achilleus isn't satisfied. For the next few days, he continually abuses Hektor's body in gruesome ways, even after Patroklos has received a proper funeral. The gods don't like this, and send a message down to Achilleus telling him to give up the body. When the Trojan King Priam—Hektor's father—comes unarmed, by night, to ask for his son's body, Achilleus agrees. The two men eat together and experience a moment of shared humanity. Achilleus grants the Trojans a grace period to perform their funeral rituals. The poem ends with the funeral of Hektor—though we know that soon Achilleus will die and Troy will be captured.

The Iliad Quotes

  • “Any moment might be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we're doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again.”
  • “…There is the heat of Love, the pulsing rush of Longing, the lover’s whisper, irresistible—magic to make the sanest man go mad.”
  • “Hateful to me as the gates of Hades is that man who hides one thing in his heart and speaks another.”
  • “Let me not then die ingloriously and without a struggle, but let me first do some great thing that shall be told among men hereafter.”
  • “Sing, O muse, of the rage of Achilles, son of Peleus, that brought countless ills upon the Achaeans.”
  • “Like the generations of leaves, the lives of mortal men. Now the wind scatters the old leaves across the earth, now the living timber bursts with the new buds and spring comes round again. And so with men: as one generation comes to life, another dies away.”
  • “Why so much grief for me? No man will hurl me down to Death, against my fate. And fate? No one alive has ever escaped it, neither brave man nor coward, I tell you - it’s born with us the day that we are born.”
  • “ that star of the waning summer who beyond all stars rises bathed in the ocean stream to glitter in brilliance.”
  • “No one can hurry me down to Hades before my time, but if a man's hour is come, be he brave or be he coward, there is no escape for him when he has once been born.”
  • “No man or woman born, coward or brave, can shun his destiny.”
  • “His descent was like nightfall.”
  • “There is nothing alive more agonized than man / of all that breathe and crawl across the earth.”
  • “Without a sign, his sword the brave man draws, and asks no omen, but his country's cause. ”
  • “Why have you come to me here, dear heart, with all these instructions? I promise you I will do everything just as you ask. But come closer. Let us give in to grief, however briefly, in each other's arms.”
  • “The roaring seas and many a dark range of mountains lie between us.”
  • “Ruin, eldest daughter of Zeus, she blinds us all, that fatal madness—she with those delicate feet of hers, never touching the earth, gliding over the heads of men to trap us all. She entangles one man, now another.”
  • “Nay if even in the house of Hades the dead forget their dead, yet will I even there be mindful of my dear comrade.”
  • “Is he not sacred, even to the gods, the wandering man who comes in weariness?”
  • “The sort of words a man says is the sort he hears in return.”
  • “You, why are you so afraid of war and slaughter? Even if all the rest of us drop and die around you, grappling for the ships, you’d run no risk of death: you lack the heart to last it out in combat—coward!”.

Questions about The Iliad Plot

What is the Iliad short summary? Set towards the end of the Trojan War, a ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Mycenaean Greek states, the poem depicts significant events in the siege's final weeks. In particular, it depicts a fierce quarrel between King Agamemnon and a celebrated warrior, Achilles.

What is the main point of the Iliad? The major themes in Homer's epic poem The Iliad are revenge, war and mortality, love and friendship, fate v free will and honor. The theme of revenge drives the plot from the beginning of the poem through to the end.

Why is it called Iliad? The word Iliad refers to the archaic name for the ancient city of Troy: Ilion or Ilios. Simply, Iliad means “Song/Poem of Ilion.”.

Who is the hero of the Iliad? The chief protagonist of The Iliad is Achilles, the great Achaean warrior whose rage instigates the action of Homer's story. At the very beginning of the poem, Achilles finds himself in conflict with the Achaean king, Agamemnon, who has decided to take for himself Achilles's beloved war prize: the maiden Briseis.

Why is the Iliad a great story? It shows us the heroism and also the tragedy and senselessness of war. It is the prototype of all wars and all war stories. It puts human faces to the struggle and the suffering.

Why is the Iliad a good story? One of the greatest epics in Western literature, THE ILIAD recounts the story of the Trojan wars. This timeless poem still vividly conveys the horror and heroism of men and gods battling amidst devastation and destruction, as it moves to its tragic conclusion.

What type of poem is the Iliad? The Iliad is an epic poem, composed around 800-725 B.C. and written down sometime between 725 and 675 B.C. The ancient Greek word epos, from which our word "epic" comes, means "word, utterance, poetic utterance," and the Iliad is precisely that.

Why is the Iliad a tragedy? For the Ancient Greeks, it was also important that an epic be written in the poetic meter of dactylic hexameter—which the Iliad is. At the same time, however, the Iliad is also a tragedy, because it focuses on the downfall of a great hero (our boy Achilleus) as a result of his own flawed character.

Who killed Achilles? Achilles is killed by an arrow, shot by the Trojan prince Paris. In most versions of the story, the god Apollo is said to have guided the arrow into his vulnerable spot, his heel. In one version of the myth Achilles is scaling the walls of Troy and about to sack the city when he is shot.

Who is the villain in the Iliad? Paris Alexandros is the central antagonist of Homer's epic The Iliad, being responsible for the kidnapping of Helen of Troy and therefore the entire Trojan War indirectly.

How does the Iliad end? The Iliad ends with the death and funeral of Hector, a prince and great warrior of Troy. Achilles, the hero of the Iliad, kills Hector in an act of revenge and anger for killing his friend Patroclus. The story ends not with the end of the Trojan War but with the enemy's funeral.

Who is the true hero of the Iliad and why? The prime example is Akhilleus, more commonly known as Achilles in the English tradition. This, the greatest hero of the Iliad, was the son of Thetis, a sea-goddess known for her far-reaching cosmic powers.

Why is Achilles so important in the Iliad? Achilles is known as being the Greeks' greatest warrior. He is also known for his all-consuming rage following a slight by the leader of the Greek troops - Agamemnon. After his best friend, Patroclus is killed, Achilles' rage merges with grief, and he slaughters Hector, Prince of Troy.

Why is Achilles the best character in the Iliad? Achilles is a very important character in The Iliad because he becomes a hero. Achilles remains faithful throughout the story, he is mainly known for his pride and some inner rage in him. He also helps obtain the wishes every family would want for there child.

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