“The Iliad” is the epic poem written by ancient Greek poet ‘Homer’. It tells the story of the last year of the Trojan War fought between the City of Troy and the Greeks. It is estimated that it was written around the 8th century BC. It is divided into 24 books and contains 15, 693 lines. ‘Achilles’ is the protagonist of the Iliad and the story centres around his rage and anger against Agamemnon. It is a central part of Epic Cyde and is set during the Bronze Age in Troy.
Mainly, the Iliad is about revenge, forgiveness, and the horrors of War.
Homer was a Greek Poet Known as the author of ‘The Iliad’ and ‘The Odyssey’ two epic poems of ancient Greek literature. There is not much information about Homer in the history.
Major Character Of ‘The Iliad’
Achilles – The story’s protagonist. He is the son of, Peleus and the Sea-Nymph, Thetis. He is the most powerful warrior and leads the Myrmidons against the Trojans.
Agamemnon – Agamemnon is the general of the Greek armies. He and Achilles fight on the same side, but they do not get along.
Menelaus – King of Sparta and brother of Agamemnon. When his wife Hellen, is abducted by the Trojans, this sparks the beginning of the Trojan War.
Odysseus – A strong and clever Achaean Warrior.
Paris – The younger Prince of Troy, He brings Helen to Troy and Starts the Trojan War.
Hector – The Eldest Prince of Troy and brother of Paris. A great fighter and resents his brother Paris for starting the war by abducting Helen.
Patroclus – Achilles’s beloved friend and advisor.
Ajax the Great – Ajax is the second great warrior of Greece after Achilles.
Helen – The most beautiful woman in the world. Wife of King Menelaus. She is the cause of the Trojan War.
Prima – King of Troy
Hecuba – Queen of Troy
Andromache – Hector’s wife.
Zeus – King Of the Gods.
Hera – Queen of the gods and Zeus’s wife.
Athena – Goddess of wisdom and daughter of Zew.
Apollo – Son Of Zeus
Summary Of The Iliad
The conflict began when Paris, the son of Troy’s king Prima, seized Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world, and wife of Achaean King Menelaus. The Achaeans raised a massive army and Sailed to Troy, bent on winning Helen back by force.
As the story begins, the war is in its ninth year. The Achaeans have recently sacked a nearby city, taking several beautiful women captive along with a lot of treasure. Chryses, a priest of Apollo, approaches the Achaean camp and asks Agamemnon, to release his daughter Agamemnon refuses. Chryses prays to Apollo to punish the Achaeans, and Apollo rains down a plague on the Achaean army.
The plague ravages the Achaean army. Agamemnon agrees reluctantly but demands that he be given Briseis, the captive girl given to the warrior Achilles, as compensation. Achilles is enraged by Agamemnon’s demand and refuses to fight. Achilles desires revenge on Agamemnon. He calls his mother Thetis, the sea Goddess and asks her to beseech Zeus to turn the tide of war against the Achaeans. The tide of battle turns in favour of the Trojans.
As the situation grows increasingly desperate, Agamemnon sends an embassy to Achilles with the promise of many gifts, including the return of Briseis, to entreat him to return to battle. Achilles refuses, stating that he will not stir the Trojans to attack his ships. The Achaean leader fights fiercely, but Hector sets one of their ships on fire. Worried for the Achaeans, Achilles allows him to wear his armour into battle. If the Trojans think Achilles has returned to battle, they will retreat. Caught up in the rush of battle, Patroclus is killed by Apollo and Hector.
Achille’s grief fuses with his rage and he returns to battle exact revenge by killing Hector then drags the corpse behind his chariot. Meanwhile, the Trojans, are angry because Achilles will not return Hector’s corpse for proper funeral ceremonies. The gods intervene, forcing Achilles to return the body of Hector.
The story in the Iliad ends as the Trojans hold a funeral for Hector. But the Trojan War continues. Tales of the deaths of Paris and Achilles, the Greeks’ cunning use of city walls, and the defeat and destruction of Troy and told in other works.
Character Sketch Of Achilles
“Achilles” is the greatest warrior of the epic “The Iliad” written by Homer. Though there are many great warriors such as Agamemnon, Hector, Ajax, Ulysses, etc. He is the most excellent of them. He has all the marks of the great warrior. He was the son of Peleus, a mortal, and Thetis, a goddess. Thus, Achilles is a demigod. He has supernatural powers. Achilles was fighting the Trojan War against the Trojans. He was the bravest warrior of the Achaeans.
Once Agamemnon says that he was a great warrior because,
“…………. God made you so.”
Achilles has both admirable and flawed qualities.
Strengths of Achilles
Courageous – Achilles is incredibly brave and has a fearless attitude toward war. He is often depicted charging into battle without any regard for his own safety.
Skilled Warrior – Achilles is a skilled warrior and has been trained by the legendary Centaur, Chiron. He can use a variety of weapons and fighting styles to defeat his enemies.
Fierce Loyalty – Achilles is fiercely loyal to his friends and allies, particularly to Patroclus, his closest companion.
Weakness Of Achilles
Hubris – Achilles has a strong sense of Pride and an overinflated sense of his importance. This often leads him to act rashly and without considering the consequences of his actions.
Impulsive – Achilles is often driven by his emotions, particularly his anger. This can lead him to make poor decisions and act impulsively.
Vengeful – Achilles has a strong desire for revenge and is quick to seek retribution against anyone who has wronged him.
In the poem when Achilles quarrels with Agamemnon because Agamemnon demands Achilles prize Briseis as compensation for returning Chryseis to her father. Achilles loved Briseis and he did not want to give her to Agamemnon, but Agamemnon snatched her from him. So in anger, Achilles withdrew from the war.
When the Trojans came to know about the withdrawal of Achilles, then Hector, the bravest warrior of the Trojans started to slaughter Achaeans fearlessly and destroy everything Patroclus, Achilles’s friend requested him to return to war, but he disagreed. But he allowed his friend to fight the war as Achilles by wearing his dress. Achilles’s friend Patroclus went to war and fought. But in the end, he was killed by Hector.
When Achilles came to know about his friend’s death, he became furious and came back to war, and this time, he fought with Hector and killed him. But after killing Hector, he was not satisfied, so he took his corpse along with him and tortured it for ten days until his father came to him to beg for his son’s corpse.
Thus in the epic ‘Iliad,’ Achilles is portrayed as a short-tempered character. He becomes furious quickly and starts to destroy everything. He wanted to help his enemy when he quarrelled with Agamemnon. So Achilles is a skilled warrior and loyal friend, but his hubris and impulsiveness often lead him down a dangerous path.
Iliad As an Epic
An epic is a long narrative poem about the adventures of warriors and heroes, kings and Gods. There are two types of epics – one is primary epic and another is secondary epic. The primary epic is oral but not written. It comes from generation to generation. For example – ‘The Iliad’ by Homer is a Primary epic. It was originally composed orally and after centuries of oral transmission, it was finally written down.
The Iliad holds all the salient features of an epic which are examined as follows:
The epics are all based on some historic events – The Iliad deals with the Trojan War which was a historic event.
An epic is a long narrative poem – This feature of an epic is preserved in the Iliad. It was originally written in Greek and has been widely translated into other languages, including English. The original Greek version has about 15700 lines and is divided into twenty – four books (Chapters), each detailing the battles and events of a few weeks in the final year of the Trojan War.
A Primary epic begins in the middle of things and usually has flashbacks to show earlier portions of the story – The Iliad, the tale starts after a nearly tenth-year war between the united powers of Greece and the forces to the city of Troy and their allies.
An epic starts with an invocation to a divine force or god and Goddess – The Iliad also begins with such an invocation. To effectively narrate this story, the poet seeks the assistance of a muse Goddess. The first line of the Iliad itself goes, “The Wrath, sing goddess, of Peleus’s son Achilles.”
God interfere in the affairs of human beings in their tales in a Primary epic – The Iliad includes a large number of Gods and Goddesses that have an influence on human affairs. God and Goddesses have human children as well, Achilles, for example, is Thetis, the sea nymph’s son.
The Setting of epic is vast covering many nations – The Iliad setting is also expansive, encompassing both Greek and Trojan islands.
Epic uses the Epic Simple – Epic simile is another important feature of an epic. An epic smile means an open compassion between two different or dissimilar things or objects. Such as – In the Iliad Hector has been compared to a boar and a lion. “He was like a wild – boar or a lion when he turns this way.”
Epic must have an epic Hero – In the Iliad, Achilles possesses godlike attributes that surpass human limits. Another hero is Hector, almost similar to Achilles.
Thus with the above points, we can conclude that all the Salient features of an epic can be examined in ‘The Iliad’. It includes and epic hero, supernatural machinery, war, and great issues like honour and dignity. So we can call “The Iliad an Epic or Primary Epic.”
To Sum up, all the above mentioned it should be said that “The Iliad by Homer is an outstanding literary work, that describes the events of the Greek–Trojan War. It also explores the brutal and destructive nature of war.