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The Iliad Essay, Research Paper

Aaron Rorabaugh Rorabaugh 1

Mrs. Kasehagen

Pre-AP English


The Iliad

The scene opens on the last year of the Trojan war. The war had raged for

ten years, with the invading Greeks fighting against Troy. Apollo has sent a plague

to the Greeks because Agamemnon, king and leader of the Greeks, dishonored a

daughter of Apollo’s priest. When the reason for the plague is discovered,

Agamemnon becomes angry and defiant, unhappy to give the daughter back to her

father to appease Apollo. Achilles, a superior Greek warrior, challenges

Agamemnon’s arrogance, but Agamemnon turns his anger to Achilles, and demands

that Achilles give a slave girl to him as a compensation. Achilles fills with rage, but

Athena, Goddess of Wisdom, calms both men down so that they do not fight with

swords. Instead they argue, and Achilles withdraws from the Greek camp, refusing

to fight until Agamemnon apologizes.

Meanwhile, on Olympus, the home of the gods, the gods are taking sides in

the conflict. Aphrodite persuades Zeus to give glory to the Trojans, if only

temporarily. Zeus agrees, which angers his wife Hera, who favors the Greeks.

Many Greek leaders want to abandon the war against Troy, because they are weary.

This is not the will of Zeus, and so he sends a false message in dream form to

Agamemnon, encouraging him to fight, and promising him an easy victory.

Rorabaugh 2

Agamemnon asks the warriors if they want to leave, hoping for a rallying

answer, but instead, all of them start heading for their ships. Odysseus, a clever

warrior, makes a speech and motivates the Greeks to stay and fight. Paris, the

beautiful and cowardly son of the Trojan king Priam, starts to boast and defies any

Greek to fight him. Menelaus, brother of Agamemnon, takes this boast. Both sides

agree to a truce, and the winner of this single combat will win the war. Paris is

overmatched, but he is saved by divine intervention by Aphrodite. The truce

becomes tense, and is broken by Pandarus. Athena assists in helping Pandarus to

throw a spear that grazes Menelaus. The battle begins in earnest. Aprhodite, Ares,

and Apollo assume human form and fight to help the Trojans. Diomedes, a Greek

warrior, has great fortune in fighting, wounding both Aphrodite and Ares so that

they have to leave the battlefield.

The Battle has quieted for a moment. Glaucus and Hippolochus, two family

friends but now on opposing sides, meet and are able to exchange a few words of

friendship. During the Lull, Paris and Hector return to the battle. Hector says

goodbye to his wife and son, and makes a speech about accepting fate. Hector offers

to fight another single combat battle, and Ajax accepts. They fight until nightfall.

Rorabaugh 3

During the night, the Greeks build a defensive wall and steal a few hours of

sleep before dawn. Zeus decrees that the gods will no longer interfere in the war.

The truce does not last past dawn, and the Trojan army gains position on the

Greeks. Hector leads, but he cannot break the Greek defense before night. The

Greeks do not sleep, and keep watch all night. Agamemnon offers a full retreat, this

time in earnest, but Diomedes becomes angry and convinces the Greeks to stay.

Ajax and Phoenix travel to visit Achilles and beg for his return. Achilles is happy to

see them, but he refuses to return to the battle, and becomes angry when they offer

bribes of wealth.

Agamemnon cannot sleep, and so to ease his mind, he sends Diomedes and

Odysseus on a spy mission. They break into the Trojan camp, kill a slow-witted spy,

and slay many other Trojans as they sleep. The fighting continues in the morning,

and Agamemnon leads a charge. Paris wounds Diomedes, and Odysseus is almost

taken prisoner. Achilles hears the fighting from his ship. He sends Patroclus, his

dear friend, to see what is going on. The Greek line breaks, and the Trojans enter

the Greek camp. The Greeks are on the verge of defeat, and they begin to retreat to

their ships. Posiedon, god of the sea, appears to the Greeks in the form of Calchas

the prophet, and motivates them to continue fighting. Ajax helps Posiedon, and the

Greeks fight alongside their ships. The Greeks hold the Trojans back.

Rorabaugh 4

Agamemnon again suggests retreat, and Odysseus and Diomedes oppose him,

and the Greeks stay. Hera, Zeus’ wife, drugs him so Posiedon can assist the Greeks

without interference from Zeus. Zeus wakes up from his drug-induced sleep, and

forces Posiedon to stop aiding the Greeks. The Trojans try another attack, but it is

repulsed largely due to Ajax.

Meanwhile, Patroclus has entered the Greek camp and is moved to tears by

the suffering of his fellow soldiers. Patroclus begs Achilles for permission to fight

using Achilles’ armor. Achilles agrees, but he warns Patroclus not to fight too

dangerously, or chase enemies. Patroclus becomes absorbed in the fighting,

and fights beyond his ability. Hector kills Patroclus. Hector takes Achilles’ armor

off of Patroclus. The Greek warriors rush to defend Patroclus’ body. Many Greeks

fight to save his body, and Menelaus and Meriones are successful. Achilles learns of

Patroclus’ death, and he cries and mourns. Achilles mother, the sea-nymph Thetis,

comforts her son by asking Hepheastus, blacksmith of the gods to make him a suit of

divine armor. Hepheastus makes a suit of armor that shows scenes from Greek

history, of the past, of the current war, and of the future. Thetis presents the armor

to her son Achilles, and also helps to preserve Patroclus’ body.

Rorabaugh 5

Achilles abandons his argument with Agamemnon, and they make amends.

Before Achilles enters battle, he is told of the prophesy of his death by Furies, gods

that prophesize. Achilles accepts his fate, and begins to fight. Because the gods

cannot battle the mortals, they begin to battle each other about the outcome of the


Meanwhile, Achilles is attacking Hector, to avenge Patroclus. Achilles is

almost ambushed by Aeneas, a Trojan, but Posiedon protects Achilles. Achilles

again tries to kill Hector, but Hector is saved by Apollo. Achilles kills many other

Trojans to try to reach Hector. Achilles kills every Trojan he sees without mercy.

He forces the Trojans to retreat to the Scamander river. Achilles even fights the

river, which is god-like. The river defeats him, but leaves him alive. Achilles leaves

the river, and rides to the gates of Troy.

The Trojans have retreated into the city walls. Achilles demands that Hector

fight him in single combat. Hector agrees, although he is urged to stay by his father

King Priam and his wife. Achilles chases Hector around the city walls three times,

and Hector is protected by Athena posing as Deiphobus. Hector decides to stand

and fight, and he believes he is being protected by a benevolent god. Hector

foolishly throws away his spear, and when he asks for another one, there is no god

to provide it, because Athena has abandoned him.

Rorabaugh 6

Hector asks Achilles for mercy in his death, but Achilles refuses, and tortures

Hector before killing him. Achilles ties Hector’s body to his chariot, and rides

around the gates of Troy three times with Hector’s body dragging behind. The

Greeks finish their mourning for Patroclus with funeral games of sport. They have

a feast, and burn the body of Hector.

Zeus decrees that Priam will be allowed to have Hector’s body. Zeus sends

Hermes with Priam, and they enter the Greek camp. Priam begs for Hector’s body

back at the feet of Achilles. Achilles weeps with Priam, and grants his request.

Achilles also grants Priam a truce to properly mourn his son. The city of Troy

mourns Hector for 9 days, and then they have a meal, and burn his body on a

funeral pyre.

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