The Iliad is an epic poem written by the Greek poet Homer. It tells the story of the last year of the Trojan War fought between the city of Troy and the Greeks.
Achilles - Achilles is the main character and the greatest warrior in the world. He 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 - Menelaus is King of Sparta. The Greeks go to war with Troy after a Trojan named Paris takes his wife Helen who is considered to be the most beautiful woman in the world.
Helen - The most beautiful woman in the world, Helen is married to King Menelaus. She is taken by the Trojans and is the cause for the Trojan War.
Odysseus - A Greek hero noted for his intelligence. He is also king of Ithaca.
Aias the Great - Aias is the second greatest Greek warrior after Achilles. He is called Ajax by the Romans.
Priam - Priam is the King of Troy during the Iliad.
Hecuba - Queen of Troy.
Hector - The greatest of all the Trojan warriors, Hector is King Priam's son. He is killed by Achilles on the battlefield.
Andromache - Hector's wife.
Paris - Paris was the Trojan who took Helen from King Menelaus.
Aeneas - One of the greatest Trojan warriors after Hector.
There were several gods who played a role in the story including many of the Olympians such as Zeus, Hera, Athena, Poseidon, Apollo, and Ares. On the side of the Trojans are Apollo, Aphrodite, and Ares. On the side of the Greeks are Poseidon, Hera, and Athena. Zeus tries to remain neutral.
When the story opens, the Trojan War has been raging for nearly 10 years. The Greeks are camped outside the walls of Troy.
Agamemnon and Achilles Argue
Agamemnon is holding captive a woman named Chryseis. Her father offers to pay Agamemnon to release her, but he refuses. Then her father prays to Apollo to help him. Soon Apollo is attacking the Greeks. Eventually, the Greek leaders, led by Achilles, force Agamemnon to release Chryseis. However, in order to get back at Achilles, Agamemnon seized a lady named Briseis from Achilles.
Achilles Refuses to Fight
Achilles becomes very angry with Agamemnon. He refuses to fight any longer. He even asks his mother, Thetis, to pray to Zeus to help the Trojans. Although Zeus has remained neutral so far during the war, he decides to help the Trojans.
The Fight Continues
The fight between the Trojans and the Greeks continues. The gods get even more involved. When Hector is hit by a giant rock thrown by Aias, Apollo heals Hector, making him even stronger and faster than he was before. With Hector leading them, the Trojans push the Greeks back toward the shore.
Patroclus is Killed
Just as it looks like the Greeks are going to lose the war, Achilles' best friend Patroclus begs Achilles to fight. Achilles once again refused. Patroclus then put on Achilles armor and entered the battle. He was fighting well and the Greeks were gaining ground until he ran into Hector. Hector killed Patroclus and took his armor.
Achilles Enters the Battle
Grief stricken over losing his friend, Achilles vows to avenge his death. He has the Greek god Hephaestus forge him new armor and rejoins the battle. Soon the Greeks have pushed the Trojans back to the city of Troy. Achilles and Hector finally face off in battle. After a long fight, Achilles kills Hector.
Achilles had one weakness, his heel. When his mother dipped him into the River Styx, she held him by the heel. It was the only place he was vulnerable. The god Apollo knew about his weakness. When Paris released an arrow at Achilles, Apollo guided the arrow to strike Achilles on the heel. Achilles quickly died from the wound.
Odysseus came up with an idea as to how the Greeks could get behind the walls of Troy. They built a large wooden horse. Some of the soldiers hid inside the horse while the rest of the Greek army got into their ships and sailed away. The Trojans thought that they had won the battle and that the horse was a gift. They rolled the horse into the city and began to celebrate their victory.
During the night, the Greek ships returned. Odysseus and his men snuck out of the horse, killed the guards, and opened the gates. The Greek army entered the gates and destroyed the Trojans. The Greeks had finally won the war.
Interesting Facts about the Iliad
It is estimated that the Iliad was written around the 8th century BC.
The Iliad has 15,693 lines.
At one point Paris agreed to fight King Menelaus in single combat. Menelaus was winning until Aphrodite swooped down and saved Paris taking him away and healing him.
It had been foretold that Achilles would die in a battle between the Greeks and Trojans.
The Greeks set sail for Troy on 1,000 ships. After this it was said that Helen of Troy had a "face that could launch a thousand ships".
It was Aphrodite who cast a spell on Helen of Troy to make her fall in love with Paris. She did this as a reward when Paris picked her as the most beautiful goddess.