The Iliad (750 B.C.?)
Homer's great epic stories of heroic man in the Late Bronze Age: The Iliad
and The Odyssey
Who was Homer?
No one knows. Even the ancient Greeks were not able to agree about when and
where Homer lived. One popular account was that he was born sometime in the
8th century BC in Smyrna in Asia Minor, lived on the island of Chios, and
died on the small island of Ios. Greek writers also
claimed that he was blind, that his real name was Melesigines,
and that his father was the river Meles and his
mother a nymph named Kretheis.
Though they could not agree about the details of his life,
ancient Greeks did not doubt that there was a poet named Homer who had
written the Iliad, the Odyssey, and possibly a number
of other poems. Many modern scholars dispute even this. Scholars in the last
two hundred years have established that the Iliad and Odyssey
are products of a long oral tradition which became fixed sometime in the
eighth century BC. How exactly the poems took their final shape (Was it the
work of one person or several? Did the process involve writing?) is still a matter of speculation. (Reed College)
An outline of the events surrounding The
Judgment of Paris: Aphrodite, Hera, and Athena
and his brother, the great Mycenaean King Agamemnon demand retribution: they
gather kings and warriors from throughout the Peloponnesus: Nestor, Ajax, Diomedes, Achilles (whose mother
Thetis tries to hide him), and Odysseus (who plays mad in an attempt to
escape the draft).
Sacrifice of Iphigenia, Agamemnon's daughter, at Aulis enables the fleet to sail.
tells the story of four weeks during the tenth year of the siege of Troy.
warriors on both sides have fought each other to a standstill: gods (Hera,
Athena and Poseidon) vs. gods (Apollo, Aphrodite) and men (Agamemnon,
Achilles, Menelaus, Ajax, and Odysseus) vs. men (Hector, Paris, Aeneas, and Priam).
falls out with Agamemnon over a trophy of war, the Trojan woman Chryseis. He
refuses to fight and his men, the Myrmidons, retire from the field.
Trojans, led by Hector, drive the Greeks back into the sea and threaten to
burn their boats.
- Patroclus, wearing Achilles' armor, leads a counterattack but is
killed by Hector.
rejoins the battle and revenges the death of his friend by slaying
Hector. He desecrates Hector's corpse and drags the body behind his
chariot around the walls of Troy.
- Priam comes alone to Achilles camp and begs him to surrender
the corpse of his son. The Iliad
ends with the burial of Hector.
is killed in battle, shot in the heel.
the tenth year of the war, Odysseus devises a plan to break the siege: the
Greeks pretend to give up the battle and leave behind a great wooden horse as
a gift. The Trojans jubilantly draw the horse within their gates, but a
contingent of Greek warriors hidden in the belly of the horse emerges and set
fire to the city. Troy is sacked and pillaged.