The Iliad: A Great Epic Story

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      The Iliad is another example of an epic poem. The Iliad, and its companion work The Odyssey, were probably based on real life events that occurred in ancient Greece. Homer, a Greek writer, is usually credited with writing both epic poems. The liad is the first of the two books taking place during the final weeks of the Trojan War, a major period of warfare between several of the powerful Greek cities. The most notable combatants were the city of Mycenae, led by Agamemnon, and the city Troy governed by Hector, The war was caused by human emotions. People act out of vanity, pride, and lust, and the result is a major war that splits the Greek world. There's a pretty clear message here that these actions have negative consequences.

      The Iliad begins with a love story. Paris, a young Trojan prince, fell in love with Helen, the wife of King Menelaus of Sparta and the most beautiful woman in the world. The pair decided to run away together, leaving Helen’s 9-year-old daughter behind. When he learned that his wife had run away with young Paris, Menelaus and Agamemnon, his brother, set out with their armies to try and take Helen back.

      Paris and Helen fled to the city of Troy, which was ruled by Paris’ brother Hector. During the battle, many Trojans died in order to protect Helen and Paris from her vengeful husband, including Hector, their king. When he was finally killed in battle the Greeks drug Hector’s lifeless body behind a chariot around and around the city walls displaying their contempt for the Trojans inside the city walls.

      As the story begins, the Greek armies are heading towards a final, major battle resulting from the interference of the gods at the request of each city. Key to this is Achilles, a half-divine hero who is the greatest warrior in the world, and who is obsessed with proving his status as a hero. Achilles has to immortalize his name as a great warrior because he is mortal, despite the efforts of his immortal mother to give him eternal life. Achilles’ mother, a nymph, dipped him in sacred water as a baby, making every part of his body impenetrable except his heel, where she held him. Although originally he fought for Menelaus, the brother of Agamemnon, Achilles is offended by the king and leaves, asking Zeus to bring the battle to a tipping point so that Menelaus will realize just how much he needs Achilles.

      With that, the Trojan War reaches a major moment as the armies ing prepare to fight. There are several major battles, with each side being, aided by the gods, and eventually, Hector kills Achilles close friend, Patroclus. Achilles rejoins the war, not for Menelaus but out of grief for As his friend, and with armor from the gods. So, Achilles kills Hector. As this happens, the gods are also fighting amongst themselves about the fate of humanity. Achilles refuses to give the Trojans the body of their king, preventing them from burying it, until Hector's father sneaks into Achilles tent and begs him for the body. Hector's father and Achilles share a meal and together mourn the people they lost during this war.

      Hector's body is returned to Troy and buried. Although the story ends there, it also contains foreboding prophecies, including the fall of Troy and the inevitable death of Achilles. These events are never described in either the The Odyssey or The Iliad, except vaguely in passing. It seems likely that ancient Greek readers were expected to already know what happens, probably because the Trojan War was a major moment in Greek history.

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