The Iliad Summary

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Book 1: The Anger of Achilles
Main Characters:
Achilles, Agamemnon, Bryseis, Chryseis, Chryses, Apollo, Thetis, Zeus, Hera, Hephaestos
Gods intervention/free will Importance of mortal women Goddesses as wives/mothers
Chryseis and Bryseis were slaves of the Trojans which the Greeks won in battle. They were given to
Agamemnon and Achilles. Chryseis' father, Chryses goes to the Achaean camp to beg for his daughter
back. When Agamemnon refuses, Chryses prays to Apollo brings a plague down on the Greeks.
To resolve this, Achilles calls an assembly and a soothsayer tells them that the only solution is to give
back Chryseis. This angers Agamemnon as he is being blamed for the plague. He tells Achilles that the
only way he will give up Chryseis is if Achilles lets him have Bryseis.
This angers but he realises he is wrong so surrenders Bryseis. But he then calls to his mother, Thetis,
who he cries to. She tells him to withdraw from the fighting and tells him she will get Zeus to let the
Trojans win for a while to show Agamemnon that he needs Achilles.
Zeus agrees to this but Hera finds out and begins an argument. Hephaestos intervenes and restores the
peace, and all the Gods have a feast and go to bed happy.
Book 3: Paris, Helen, Aphrodite
Main Characters:
Paris, Menelaos, Hektor, Aphrodite, Helen, Priam
Women The heroic code Intervention of Gods
The two armies advance towards each other, and Paris bravely offers a duel to anyone who will accept.
Menelaos steps forwards and joyously accepts the challenge. Paris realises what he has done and shrinks
back into the crowd, where he gets a rousing speech from his brother, Hektor, about how cowardly he is.
So Paris agrees to fight and the duel will determine who gets `Helen and all her goods'.
Helen and Priam sit together and watch the fight. When they begin, it is clear that Menelaos is winning
so Aphrodite rescues Paris and takes him to his bedroom. She then (dressed as an old woman) summons
Helen and tells her to go to Paris. Helen stands up to Aphrodite but is then scared away when Aphrodite
threatens her. Helen then tells Paris how she wishes he wouldn't have gone to fight and she wishes he
had died, then they go to bed together.
Meanwhile, Menelaos is looking all over for Paris so he can get back Helen and all her goods, as he
rightfully won the duel.
Book 4: The breaking of the truce

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Main Characters:
Zeus, Hera, Athene, Pandaros, Agamemnon
God intervention
The gods look out over the city and discuss the fate of the war. Zeus wants to end it, but Hera and
Athene want to see the destruction of Troy due to their anger at not being chosen to be the most
beautiful by Paris.
So, Zeus sends Athene down to restore the fight: she easily persuades Pandaros to shoot Menelaos.…read more

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Agamemnon, Odysseus, Phoinix, Ajax, Achilles
Heroic Code Old men
There is a meeting in the Greek camp about their impending loss to the Trojans. Agamemnon cries and
wants to give up. Diomedes and Nestor reassure him and convince him to stay. Agamemnon accepts
that he was unwise and says he will offer Achilles many gifts, including Breisis, if he returns. An embassy
of Odysseus, Phoinix and Ajax is sent to Achilles to attempt to get him to fight again.…read more

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Fate God intervention Heroic Code
Patroklos begs Achilles to let him wear his armour. Ajax, one of the only uninjured soldiers left, is forced
backwards by the Trojans and Achilles accepts. However, after sending a prayer to Zeus, Achilles warns
Patroklos not to go too far into Troy.…read more

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Thetis bring Achilles his new armour and Achilles calls a meeting in which he renounces his anger.
Agamemnon apologises personally, offering the same gifts as before but also says he was blinded by the
Gods. Achilles still refuses to take the gifts but is eager to get back to the fighting.
Odysseus insists on a feast before they return, and a formal parading of the gifts to confirm the
reconciliation.…read more

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Funeral games are held in honour of Patroklos, similar to the Olympic Games. This contrasts to the
previous scene of Hektor being violently flung to the ground by Achilles. The Mrymidons lament and
grieve, while Achilles refuses to eat or sleep until Patroklos is buried. Patroklos' ghost appears to him
telling him to hurry up as his soul cannot pass the river Styx.…read more


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