Characters in the Iliad

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The son of the military man Peleus and the sea nymph Thetis. The most powerful warrior in the Iliad, Achilleus commands the Myrmidons, soldiers from his homeland of Phthia in Greece. Proud and headstrong, he takes offense easily and reacts with blistering indignation when he perceives that his honour has been slighted. Achilleus' wrath at Agamemnon for taking his war prize, the maiden Briseis, forms the main subject of the Iliad

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King of Mycenae and leader of the Achaian army; brother of King Menelaos of Sparta. Arrogant and often selfish, Agamemnon provides the Achaians with strong but sometimes reckless and self-serving leadership. Like Achilleus, he lacks consideration and forethought. Most saliently, his tactless appropriation of Achilleus' war prize, the maiden Briseis, creates a crisis for the Achaians, when Achilleus, insulted, withdraws from the war.

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Achilleus'beloved friend, companion and advisor, Patroklos grew up alongside the great warrior in Phthia, under the guardianship of Peleus. Devoted to both Achilleus and the Achaian cause, Patroklos stands by the enraged Achilleus but also dons Achilleus' terrifying armour in an attempt to hold the Trojans back.

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A fine warrior and the cleverest of the Achaian commanders. Along with Nestor, Odysseus is one of the Achaians' two best public speakers. He helps mediate between Agamemnon and Achilleus during their quarrel and often prevents them from making rash decisions.

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The youngest of the Achaian commanders, Diomedes is bold and sometimes proves impetuous. After Achilleus withdraws from combat, Athene inspires Diomedes with such courage that he actually wounds two gods, Aphrodite and Ares.

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Great Ajax

An Achaian commander, Great Ajax (sometimes called 'Telamonian Ajax' or simply 'Ajax') is the second mightiest Achaian warrior after Achilleus. His extraordinary size and strength help him to wound Hektor twice by hitting him with boulders. He often fights alongside Little Ajax and the pair i frequently referred to as the 'Aeantes'.

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Little Ajax

An Achaian commander, Little Ajax is the son of Oileus (to be distinguished from Great Ajax, the son of Telamon). He often fights alongside Great Ajax, whose stature and strength complement Little Ajax's small size and swift speed. The two together are sometimes called the 'Aeantes'.

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King of Pylos and the oldest Achaian commander. Although age has taken much of Nestor's physical strength, it has left him with great wisdom. He often acts as an advisor to the military commanders, especially Agamemnon. Nestor and Odysseus are the Achaians' most deft and persuasive orators, although Nestor's speeches are sometimes long-winded.

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King of Sparta; the younger brother of Agamemnon. While it is the abduction of his wife, Helen, by the Trojan prince Paris that sparks the Trojan War, Menelaos proves quieter, less imposing and less arrogant than Agamemnon. Though he has a stout heart, Menelaos is not among the mightiest Achaian warriors.

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King of Crete and a respected commander. Idomeneus leads a charge against the Trojans in Book 13.

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A healer. Machaon is wounded by Paris in Book 11.

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An important sothsayer. Kalchas' identification of the cause of the plague ravaging the Achaian army in Book 1 leads inadvertently to the rift between Agamemnon and Achilleus that occupies the first nineteen books of the Iliad.

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Achilleus' father and the grandson of Zeus. Although his name often appears in the epic, Peleus never appears in person. Priam powerfully invokes the memory of Peleus when he convinces Achilleus to return Hektor's corpse to the Trojans in Book 24.

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A kindly old warrior, Phoinix helped raise Achilleus while he himself was still a young man. Achilleus deeply loves and trusts Phoinix, and Phoinix mediates between him and Agamemnon during their quarrel.

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The Myrmidons

The soldiers under Achilleus' command, hailing from Achilleus' homeland, Phthia.

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A son of King Priam and Queen Hekabe, Hektor is the mightiest warrior in the Trojan army. He mirrors Achilleus in some of his flaws, but his bloodlust is not as great as that of Achilleus. He is devoted to his wife, Andromache and son, Astyanax, but resents his brother Paris for bringing war upon their family and city.

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King of Troy and husband of Hekabe, Priam is the father of fifty Trojan warriors, including Hektor and Paris. Though too old to fight, he has earned the respect of both the Trojans and the Achaians by virtue of his level-headed, wise and benevolent rule. He treats Helen kindly, though he laments the war that her beauty has sparked.

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Queen of Troy, wife of Priam and mother of Hektor and Priam.

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A son of Priam and Hekabe and brother of Hektor. Paris' abduction of the beautiful Helen, wife of Menelaos, sparked the Trojan War. Pars is self-centred and often unmanly. He fights effectively with a bow and arrow (never with the more manly sword or spear) but often lacks the spirit of battle and prefers to sit in his room making love to Helen while others fight for him, thus earning both Hektor's and Helen's scorn.

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Reputed to be the most beautiful woman in the ancient world, Helen was stolen from her husband Menelaos, and taken to Troy by Paris. She loathes herself now for the misery that she has caused som many Trojan and Achaian men. Although her contempt extends to Paris as well, she continues to stay with him.

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A Trojan nobleman, the son of Aphrodite, and a mighty warrior. The Romans believed that Aeneas later founded their city (he is a protagonist of Virgil's masterpiece, the Aeneid)

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Hektor's beloved wife, Andromache begs Hektor to withdraw from war and save himself before the Achaians kill him.

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Hektor and Andromache's infant son.

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A young Trojan commander, Polydamas sometimes figures as a foil for Hektor, proving cool-headed and prudent when Hektor charges ahead. Polydamas gives the Trojans sound advice but Hektor seldom acts on it.

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A powerful Trojan warrior, Glaucas nearly fights a duel with Diomedes. The men's exchange of armour after they realise that their families are friends illustrates the value that ancients placed on kinship and camaraderie.

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A Trojan warrior who attempts to fight Achilleus in Book 21. Agenor delays Achilleus long enough for the Trojan army to flee inside Troy's walls.

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A Trojan sent to spy on the Achaian camp in Book 10.

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A Trojan archer. Pandarus' shot at Menelaos in Book 4 breaks the temporary truce between the two sides.

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A Trojan nobleman, advisor to King Priam, and father of many Trojan warriors. Antenor argues that Helen should be returned to Menelaos in order to end the war, but Paris refuses to give her up.

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One of Zeus' sons. Sarpedon's fate seems intertwined with the god's quibbles, calling attention to the unclear nature of the God's relationship to Fate.

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Chryses' daughter, a priest of Apollo in a Trojan-allied town.

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A war-prize of Achilleus. When Agamemnon is forced to return Chryseis to he rfather, he appropriates Briseis as compensation, sparking Achilleus' great rage. 

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A priest of Apollo in a Trojan-allied town, the father of Chryseis, whom Agamemnon takes as a war prize.

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King of the gods and husband of Hera, Zeus claims neutrality in the mortals' conflict and often tries to keep the other gods from participating in it. However, he throws his weight behind the Trojan side for much of the battle after the sulking of Achilleus has his mother, Thetis, ask the god to do so.

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Queen of the gods and Zeus' wife, Hera is a conniving, headstrong woman. She often goes behind Zeus' back in matters on which they disagree, working with Athene to crush the Trojans, whom she passionately hates.

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The goddess of wisdom, purposeful battle and the womanly arts; Zeus' daughter. Like Hera, Athene passionately hates the Trojans and often gives the Achaians valuable aid.

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A sea-nymph and devoted mother of Achilleus, Thetis gets Zeus to help the Trojans and punish the Achaians at the request of her angry son. When Achilleus finally rejoins the battle, she commissions Hephaistos to design him a new suit of armour.

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A son of Zeus and twin brother of the goddess Artemis, Apollo is god of the son and the arts, particularly music. He supports the Trojans and often intervenes in the war on their behalf.

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Goddess of love and daughter of Zeus, Aphrodite is married to Hephaistos but maintains a romantic relationship with Ares. She supports Paris and the Trojans throughout the war, though she proves somewhat ineffectual in battle.

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The brother of Zeus and god of the sea. Poseidon holds a long-standing grudge against the Trojans because they never paid him for helping them build their city. He therefore supports the Achaians in the war.

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God of fire and husband of Aphrodite, Hephaistos is the gods' metal smith and is known as the lame or crippled god. Although the text doesn't make clear his sympathies in the mortals' struggle, he helps the Achaians by forging a new set of armour for Achilleus and by rescuing Achilleus during his fight with a river god.

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Goddess of the hunt, daughter of Zeus and twin sister of Apollo. Artemis supports the Trojans in the war.

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God of war and lover of Aphrodite, Ares generally supports the Trojans in the war.

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The messenger of the gods. Hermes escorts Priam to Achilleus' tent in Book 24.

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Zeus' messenger

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