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A Brief Summary of the Iliad Background: Troy had been sacked previously by Herakles [5.722-35 (129)]; 7.540 (176).

Apollo and Poseidon had built the great wall of the city of Troy for King Laomedon, the father of Priam. The story of the building of those old city walls fits well with archeological evidence of massive defenses for Troy VI, more powerful than those of Troy VIIa (that of Priam and the Trojan War). Because Laomedon did not reward the gods as promised, Herakles sacked the city. BOOK ONE: The Greek commander, Agamemnon, is forced by the arguments of Achilleus at a public assembly to agree to return his captive, Chryseis, to her father, a local priest. This leads to a violent quarrel, during which Agamemnon uses his superior rank to inform Achilleus that he will replace Chryseis with Achilleus' own captive, Briseis. Achilleus publicly withdraws from the army and asks his goddess mother, Thetis, to persuade Zeus to help the Trojans. After an interlude, in which Odysseus sees to the formal return of Chryseis to her father, Zeus undertakes to do as Thetis asks; there is then a bad-tempered scene on Olympos between him and his wife, Hera, which is settled by the efforts of Hephaistos. BOOKTWO: Book 2 falls into two parts--the "testing" of the army and the catalogues of the troops. In more detail, they contain: Lines 1-454: Zeus sends a dream which tells Agamemnon he can finish the war by attacking this day. In an ill-considered stratagem, Agamemnon tests the morale of the army by suggesting that they take to the ships and leave. The suggestion is accepted with alacrity, and it is only through the strenuous efforts of Odysseus that they are brought back to the place of meeting. A dissenter called Thersites is humiliated; powerful speeches are made by Odysseus and Nestor; the army gets ready and moves out to battle. Lines 455-877: Now comes the Catalogue of Ships, a geographically ordered list of the contingents of the Greek army, with the names of their leaders. The Catalogue fits fairly well with the rest of the Iliad but clearly had its origin elsewhere, for in fact it describes the assembly of the fleet before it set sail for Troy and has been superficially modified for its present place. It is followed by a much shorter Trojan catalogue, also geographically set out, detailing the leaders of the Trojans and their far-flung allies. BOOK THREE: Book 3 contains two alternating themes, (a) the single combat between Paris and Menelaos and (b) the people within the city of Troy. We are first introduced to Paris (Alexandros), the unworthy cause of the war; and then, in a pause before the duel starts, we see Helen on the walls of Troy, speaking to old King Priam and identifying for him the leaders of the Achaians, who are of course well known to her. The duel itself, which follows, is technically undecided, because Aphrodite spirits Paris away before Menelaos can kill him. The book ends in Troy again, with the scene of Aphrodite summoning Helen back from the wall to the bed of Paris.

BOOKFOUR: Book 4, like Book 3, contains one major scene--Agamemnon's review of the army--that is suited rather to the beginning of the war than to the tenth year but is nevertheless of value in increasing our recognition of the different Greek leaders. The book begins (1-222) with the treacherous breaking of the truce by Pandaros--necessary for the continuation of the war, and adding a new reason for the inevitable destruction of Troy. Then comes Agamemnon's review (223-421), culminating in the scene with Diomedes, who is intentionally highlighted here because of his domination of the battle in the next two books. Then follows the first description of fighting (422-544)-introduced by a number of similes, to show the importance of the occasion. It is a general, bloody struggle, giving a somber background to the brighter and more heroic achievements of Book 5. BOOK FIVE: Book 5 is the first full book of fighting, and a long one at that. There is, however, none of the tedium which some may find in Books 13-15, because it is a record of positive success, dominated by the brilliant figure of Diomedes. This is his aristeia (i.e., the period when a single warrior dominates the battlefield, as Agamemnon also does in the first part of Book 11, and Achilleus in Book 20). He even wounds two gods--an achievement which would send a thrill of fear through the mind of a believer of old. Diomedes is in a sense a substitute for Achilleus. It is difficult to see how both could be in action together. By the time Achilleus returns in the final books, Diomedes has been wounded and is off the scene. As his personal antecedents are with the Theban, rather than the Trojan, cycle of legends (see 4.365-400 n.), many have thought that he and Sthenelos may have been late additions to the tale of Troy. BOOK SIX: Greek successes continue in Book 6. Helenos, the Trojan seer, persuades Hektor to return to Troy while the re~t hold back the Greeks, so that he may ask the women of the city to make special prayers to Athene for help. While Hektor is on his way, Diomedes and Glaukos meet in the battle, discover that they are old family friends, and exchange armor. Hektor, in separate and balanced episodes, sees the three women of Troy-his mother, Hekabe; Helen, the cause of the war (at home with her husband, Paris); and finally his wife, Andromache. This scene, with the baby frightened by his father's helmet, adds a new dimension to the epic. The plight of the women and children in the city is sympathetically brought to our attention, and Hektor's death is clearly foreshadowed. At the end, Paris catches up to Hektor as he is leaving the city, and the two brothers sally forth together. BOOK SEVEN: In Book 7, after Hektor and Paris sally forth together from the city, the first day of fighting, which began in Book 2, comes to an end with a challenge issued by Hektor to fight any Greek, and his consequent duel with Aias. The book ends with a truce for the burial of the dead, during which the Greeks take the opportunity to build a fortification round their camp. BOOK EIGHT: Book 7 ended in an atmosphere of foreboding, with ominous thunder during the night. Now, in Book 8, Zeus is about to fulfill the promise he made to Thetis in Book 1, that he would grant victory to the Trojans until Agamemnon and the Greeks compensated Achilleus for the dishonor done to

him. Book 8 involves a complete day's fighting, with a great deal of divine activity, Zeus arranging for the Trojans to be victorious, and the pro-Greek goddesses attempting to thwart him. The effect, however, is confused, because the poet has a patriotic bias and tends to indicate that, other things being equal, the Greeks are still more than a match for their opponents, even in the absence of Achilleus. Thus the reader receives an impression of Greek rather than Trojan success and is therefore a little surprised by Hektor's optimism in his speech to the army in 497-541 and by the pessimism of the Greeks in Books 9 and 10. We should pay due attention to the picture of Trojan victory in 212-16 and 343-49. BOOK NINE: Book 9, in many ways the finest in the Iliad, is a self-contained whole, devoted to the Greek Embassy to Achilleus in the night following their defeat in Book 8. The Greeks send three envoys--Odysseus, Phoinix, and Aias-and the main part of the book consists of the. speeches of each of these three and the reply of Achilleus to each. Before the Embassy proper come the preliminaries and the arrangements for it, the proposal itself being typically made by Nestor; and after it we are shown the reaction of the Greek leaders to the news that it has failed. Balance is provided at the beginning and end by a pair of strong speeches by Diomedes. Features of the book that are perhaps most memorable are 1) Achilleus' questioning of the heroic code within which he himself has his being (314-63, 400-420); 2) The powerful rhetoric of his words throughout his speech, but especially in 336-43 and 37492; 3) The way he modifies his position in his three speeches (359-61, 61819, and 650-53); and 4) The brilliant telling of the paradigmatic story of Meleagros in Phoinix' speech (529-605). BOOK TEN: Book 10, usually called the Doloneia, has a unique position in the Iliad, in that it is a complete incident in itself and could be removed from the epic without leaving any trace. The wonderful horses captured by Diomedes are never referred to again. BOOK ELEVEN: Book 11 is essential to the plot of the Iliad for two reasons. First, it contains the wounding of the major Greek heroes, Agamemnon, Diomedes, and Odysseus, which facilitates the Trojan victory; and second, the scene at the end between Patroklos and Nestor begins the sequence which leads to the tragedy of Book 16 and Achilleus' eventual return to the battle. Before the wounding of the Greek heroes, Agamemnon is compensated for the rather poor showing he has had up to now (see 9.9-28, 10.3-16) by being given an aristeia as glorious as that of Diomedes in Book 5. We are reminded that the Greek army counted him as one of their three best fighters in the absence of Achilleus (7.179-80). BOOK TWELVE: In Book 12, the Greeks, having temporarily lost three of their major heroes, are on the defensive, and the Trojans attack the wall (whose building, at the end of Book 7, prepared for the set-piece description here). Book 12 is a complete action in itself, for it ends with the breakthrough when Hektor smashes open the gate of the main entrance to the Greek camp with a massive stone at line 459; there is now nothing between the Trojans and the Greek ships except a demoralized mass of men. Memorable in this

book are numerous similes and the noble speech of the sympathetic Sarpedon in 310-28. BOOK THIRTEEN: Books 13 and 14 mark a major "retardation" of the plot. Hektor has broken through the Greek wall, and the Trojans are all set to attack the ships. Now, however, the Greeks rally, hold their position, and eventually drive the Trojans back. Only in Book 15 is the Trojan advance resumed. The poet describes these events on the divine plane as well as the human. The Greek rally is explained by the fact that Zeus (who is responsible for everything) temporarily takes his eyes off the battle in Book 13, and is otherwise distracted in Book 14, so that a Greek sympathizer, the sea god, Poseidon, takes the opportunity to encourage and assist his side. He does this incognito in Book 13 but openly in Book 14, when Zeus is asleep. BOOK FOURTEEN: Book 14, which continues the "retardation" begun in Book 13, shows Zeus further distracted from the battle, so that his plan for the defeat of the Greeks is thwarted. With Poseidon's help, the Greeks drive the Trojans back. The book falls neatly into three parts: A meeting between Nestor and the the heroes wounded in Book 11--Agamemnon, Diomedes, and Odysseus; The seduction of Zeus by his wife Hera; and Victory for the Greeks. BOOK FIFTEEN: By the end of Book 14, Hektor is hors de combat and the Trojans are in flight. Book 15 contains the third stage of the battle which began after the breakthrough in Book 12. Book 15 is long-like Book 13; it is divided as follows: Zeus wakes on Ida, and takes steps to reverse the situation; The Greeks are driven back into their defenses; Interludes of Nestor and Patroklos; The battle at the ships; Hektor breaks through to the ships. One feature of this book of fighting is the unusually large number of striking similes; see, for example, the three in quick succession in 618-36. BOOK SIXTEEN: Book 16 is the turning point of the Iliad. In it we see the culmination of the plot that began with the quarrel in Book 1 and continued with the rejection of the Embassy in Book 9 and the defeat of the Greeks and the wounding of their leaders in Book 11. Achilleus, his mind still clouded by anger, makes the irrational decision to allow his closest friend, Patroklos, to lead the Myrmidons into battle, in order to protect the ships and save the Greek army. Patroklos, after great achievements, is finally killed by Hektor. Mirroring Patroklos' own death, at the end, another sympathetic figure, Sarpedon, is killed halfway through the book, giving Patroklos his greatest victory. It is these two deaths, and to a lesser extent that of Kebriones in 737, together with the moving epitaph of 775-76, that introduce a tragic tone to the Iliad, which will not leave it from now on. For the first time the hearer or reader feels more than momentarily involved in the fate of the defeated. The book falls into six parts: Patroklos and Achilleus; Climax of the Trojan attack; Hektor sets fire to the ship; Patroklos leads the Myrmidons into battle; The Trojans are driven back and Aristeia of Patroklos; Death of Sarpedon and Fight over his body; Patroklos' last fight.

BOOK SEVENTEEN: Book 17 is wholly devoted to the fight for the body of Patroklos. Two such fights occurred in Book 16 (for the bodies of Sarpedon and Kebriones); typically, its greater length shows the greater importance of the present struggle. Nothing very decisive happens, and commentators in modern times have uniformly found the description unsatisfactory, suggesting either that there have been rhapsodies' additions to the narrative or that Homer was tired. We may, however, give him credit for intending the over-all effect of continuous, wearisome struggle for possession of the corpse. The book may be divided as follows: Menelaos and Euphorbos/Preliminaries to the battle/Dour struggle; Episode of the horses of Achilleus/Aristeia of Automedon; The Trojans exert the greater pressure/The Greeks manage to send a messenger (Antilochos) to tell Achilleus the bad news; Slow Greek withdrawal, carrying the body. BOOK EIGHTEEN: Book 18 is famous for the description of the designs on the Shield of Achilleus, made for him by the smith god, Hephaistos, to replace the shield lost with the rest of Achilleus' armor when Hektor killed Patroklos. There are, in all, five episodes in the book, the last three of which occur simultaneously during the night which follows this very long day of fighting: 1) Antilochos brings the news to Achilleus. Thetis comes from the sea to console him. 2) With Achilleus' help, the body of Patroklos is brought into the camp. Night falls. 3) Trojan assembly. 4) Mourning for Patroklos. 5) Thetis and Hephaistos. The making of the arms. The designs on the shield. ere, as at the end of Book 17, there is clear BOOK NINETEEN: Book 19 presents an interlude before the battle: the situation is brought under control and loose ends in the story are tied up. The following outline shows how the action is divided: Thetis brings the arms to Achilleus; Greek assembly; Public reconciliation between Agamemnon and Achilleus; Laments of Briseis and Achilleus; Achilleus arms for battle; Achilleus' conversation with the divine horses. BOOK TWENTY: In Book 20 there is a slow buildup toward the aristeia of Achilleus. He obviously must not meet Hektor too soon-at least not decisively. The poet uses all his devices in this book and the next to postpone the climax. The beginnings are fairly low-keyed: Zeus formally invites the gods to take part (1-74), thus preparing for the fight between the gods themselves in Book 21; there is then a long scene between Achilleus and Aineias, mostly taken up by speeches and leading to nothing, for Aineias is rescued by Poseidon before he can be hurt (75-352); finally, the aristeia of Achilleus begins, and he kills fourteen Trojans in swift succession (353-503). During this last sequence Hektor comes up against him twice, but each time the inevitable is postponed; once Hektor withdraws on the advice of Apollo (379-80), once he is rescued by the same god (443-44). There is a carefully structured sequence, as follows: Achilleus kills four named individuals, ending with the gruesome death of Hektor's youngest brother; This is enough to drive Hektor to face Achilleus, contrary to the express instructions of Apollo; Apollo saves him; Achilleus kills ten named individuals--two, followed by a pair in a chariot, then four, followed by another pair in a chariot. The chariots indicate, as in the

aristeiai of Diomedes and Agamemnon in Books 5 and 11, that the Trojans are now taking to flight; General summary, with similes, of the effect of Achilleus' attack. BOOK TWENTY-ONE: In contrast to the catalogue type of aristeia at the end of Book 20, Achilleus' heroic status is displayed in Book 21 by two individual duels and a desperate struggle with the river Skamandros. Then, following the disconcerting episode of the battle among the gods, the narrative returns to the human plane with Achilleus' encounter with Agenor, which forms a prelude to his meeting with Hektor in Book 22. BOOK TWENTY-TWO: The death of Hektor at the hands of Achilleus is the climax of the Iliad, the culmination of the Wrath theme. To it the poet devotes the whole of Book 22, giving it all possible pathos by stressing the effect of the hero's death on his father and mother, his wife and child, and on the city of Troy. There is evidence, as so often, of careful composition. Three speeches, by Priam, Hekabe, and Hektor (25-130), balance three speeches at the end by Priam, Hekabe, and Andromache (405-515), the third speech in each case being the most affecting. The center of the book, with the action, falls into two parts: the chase (131-246) and the fight (247-404). BOOK TWENTY-THREE: Book 23 falls into two separate but connected parts, the transition made in the simplest way possible, in the middle of a line: The funeral rites of Patroklos; The funeral games. The funeral itself, which is described in considerable detail, continues the effect of all books since Book 18, with Achilleus as the central figure of interest. The games, on the other hand, return to the wide canvas of the earlier Iliad. Here we again see in action--but now in athletic competition instead of the deadly work of war-those characters whom we came to know well in the first half of the epic: people like Odysseus, Diomedes, Aias, Menelaos, Idomeneus, Meriones. Agamemnon makes a brief entry; Nestor speaks twice at some length. This is the last time we see the heroes, and Homer continues the process of character-drawing by portrayal of behavior which he has followed in the books of fighting. The vividness of the sports reporting, especially the very long description of the chariot race, which comes first, has always been much admired, and rightly so. Achilleus presides over the games, a model of politeness and propriety; the gentler side of his character is to the fore and prepares us for the civilized ending in Book 24, after the bloodthirsty violence of Books 20-22. BOOK TWENTY-FOUR: Book 24 is a worthy conclusion to the Iliad. It closely corresponds with Book 1, for here the Wrath theme, initiated in Book 1, modified in Books 18 and 19, and culminating in Book 22, is finally resolved when Achilleus speaks politely and gently to the old king, Priam, and agrees to the ransom of the body of his enemy, Hektor. Like Book I also, Book 24 is a unity in itself; it has the single theme of the return of Hektor's body to Troy. We may divide it as follows: Priam's expedition to ransom the body; Priam with Achilleus; Priam's return to Troy; the burial of Hektor. So the Iliad ends with its secondary hero, Hektor; but Achilleus is still in the center, especially since we realize--having been told so often--that his own

death is now not far away. The shadow of it lies over his conversations with Priam.