The Iliad is an epic Greek poem that tells the story of the Trojan War. This was a war between the Greeks (Achaeans) and the people of Troy.
Nine years after the start of the Trojan War, the Greek (“Achaean”) army sacks Chryse, a town allied with Troy. During the battle, the Achaeans capture a two women, Chryseis and Briseis. Agamemnon, the leader of the Achaean forces, takes Chryseis, and Achilles, the Achaeans’ greatest warrior, claims Briseis. Chryseis’s father, Chryses, who serves as a priest of the god Apollo, offers an enormous ransom in return for his daughter, but Agamemnon refuses to give Chryseis back. Chryses then prays to Apollo, who sends a plague upon the Achaean camp.
After many Achaeans die, Agamemnon consults a prophet to determine the cause of the plague. When he learns that Chryseis is the cause, he reluctantly gives her up but then demands Briseis from Achilles as compensation. Furious at this insult, Achilles returns to his tent in the army camp and refuses to fight in the war any longer. He vengefully yearns to see the Achaeans destroyed and asks his mother, the sea-nymph Thetis, to enlist the services of Zeus, king of the gods, toward this end. The Trojan and Achaean sides have declared a truce with each other, but now the Trojans break the treaty and Zeus comes to their aid.
With Zeus supporting the Trojans and Achilles refusing to fight, the Achaeans suffer great losses. The Trojans push the Achaeans back, forcing them to take refuge on the coast by their ships. They advance all the way up to the boundary of the Achaean camp and set fire to one of the ships. Defeat seems imminent, because without the ships, the army will be stranded at Troy and almost certainly destroyed.
Concerned for his comrades but still too proud to help them himself, Achilles agrees to a plan proposed by Nestor that will allow his beloved friend Patroclus to take his place in battle, wearing his armor. Patroclus is a fine warrior, and his presence on the battlefield helps the Achaeans push the Trojans away from the ships and back to the city walls. But the attack soon falters. Apollo knocks Patroclus’s armor to the ground, and Hector, the prince of Troy, slays him. When Achilles discovers that Hector has killed Patroclus, he fills with such grief and rage that he agrees to reconcile with Agamemnon and rejoin the battle. Thetis goes to Mount Olympus and persuades the god Hephaestus to forge Achilles a new suit of armor, which she presents to him the next morning. Achilles then rides out to battle at the head of the Achaean army.
Meanwhile, Hector, not expecting Achilles to rejoin the battle, has ordered his men to camp outside the walls of Troy. But when the Trojan army glimpses Achilles, it flees in terror back behind the city walls. Achilles cuts down every Trojan he sees. Strengthened by his rage, he even fights the god of the river Xanthus, who is angered that Achilles has caused so many corpses to fall into his streams. Finally, Achilles confronts Hector outside the walls of Troy. Ashamed at the poor advice that he gave his comrades, Hector refuses to flee inside the city with them. Achilles chases him around the city’s periphery three times, but the goddess Athena finally tricks Hector into turning around and fighting Achilles. In a dramatic duel, Achilles kills Hector. He then lashes the body to the back of his chariot and drags it across the battlefield to the Achaean camp.
At last, the gods agree that Hector deserves a proper burial. Zeus sends the god Hermes to escort King Priam, Hector’s father and the ruler of Troy, into the Achaean camp. Priam tearfully pleads with Achilles to take pity on a father and return Hector’s body. Deeply moved, Achilles finally relents and returns Hector’s corpse to the Trojans. Both sides agree to a temporary truce, and Hector receives a hero’s funeral.
Paragraph (10-12 sentences) – Describe the story of the Iliad in your own words. Include the following:
The two sides of the war
Agamemnon, Achilles, Hector, Priam
How did the gods involve themselves in the war?
After the events of the Iliad and the death of Hector, the Trojan War still wasn't over. Neither the Greeks nor the Trojans seemed to be able to win, until one of the Greek kings had an idea.
Build a big wooden horse on wheels," he said, "big enough for a bunch of Greek soldiers to hide inside it." So the Greeks did. Then the Greeks all pretended to sail home (except the ones hiding inside the horse!). They acted like they had given up and left. But really they hid just around the corner.
Soon the Trojans found the horse. "What is it?" they asked each other. Nobody knew. (The Greek soldiers hiding inside kept very quiet). Then they found a Greek soldier hiding nearby. He said (though this was part of the trick) that the other Greeks hated him and they had left him behind. So the Trojans asked him what the horse was for. He said it was an offering to Athena.
The Trojans didn't want to upset Athena either, so they rolled the big horse into the city of Troy. It was so big it wouldn't go through the gate, and they had to tear down a piece of the city wall to get it in. They left it at the temple of Athena, and then the Trojans had a big party to celebrate the end of the war. (Still the Greek soldiers inside the horse kept very quiet).
Finally, everyone fell asleep, and NOW the Greek soldiers came out of the Trojan Horse and killed the guards on the walls. They signaled to the other Greeks to come attack Troy. They could get in now because the walls were torn down. There was a big battle and the Greeks won. All the Trojan men were killed, and all the women and children were taken back to Greece as slaves.
Achilles would die in the battle. Although he was the greatest warrior in all of Greece, and basically invincible, his one weak spot in his body was behind is ankle. An arrow was shot and hit him in his weak spot. He was then attacked and killed. That is why today, behind your ankle is referred to as your Achilles heal.
Paragraph (6-8 sentences) - Describe how the Greeks tricked the people of Troy and were able to win the war.