Iliad Book 1

Summary and Analysis of Book 1



  • Homer introduces theme in the prepostition of 'anger' and asks his muse to say. 'Anger' causes many deaths and is destructive.
  • Lines 0-63- Agamemnon refuses to return Chryseis and so Apollo sends a plague down on the Greeks.
  • Lines 64-120- Calchas says Agamemnon is the reason for the plague.
  • Lines 121-344- Quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon.
  • Lines 345-427- Achilles appears to Thetis to appeal to Zeus.
  • Lines 428-500- Chyrseis is returned and the plague is ceased.
  • Lines 501-612- Quarrel with the Gods and then peace is restored
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Key Quotes

- First line of Iliad is anger- clearly shows what the epic is going to be about.
-Anger of Achilles towards Agamemnon and to Hector.

'All the other Greeks shouted in agreemement'
-Army agree with Chryses more than with Agamemnon= shows what a poor leader he is.

'She will grow old in Argos'
-Characterises Agamemnon badly- no regard for women or Chryseis.

'White-armed Hera'
-Commonly used epithet for Hera= demonstrates her superiority

'You drunkard'
-Showing the extent of Achilles' fury in the first book

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Lines 0-63

  • Agamemnon is primarily negatively characterised with no regard for divine intervention, he assumes that the Gods are helpless - 'you may find the god's staff and emblems a very poor defence'
  • Greek troops pay no regard for Agamemnon and are in agreement with Chryses instead of Agamemnon- 'then all the other Greeks shouted in agreement'
  • First demonstration of the power of the Gods- 'came down in fury from the heights of Olympus'
  • Agamemnon absuses his position because depriving Achilles of his legitimate prize of war, he is undermining the honour code on which relations between heroes are based.
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Lines 64-120

  • Demonstration of the ignorance of Agamemnon, doesn't realise that he is the reason for Apollo to send down the plague- ' Apollo is persecuting them because I refused'
  • Theme of men and women first shown, not highly regarded- 'I like her better than my wife Clytaemnestra'
  • Agamemnon shows that he is willing to sacrifice something of his in order for the benefit of his army although it isn't willingly- 'I am willing to give her up'
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Lines 121-344

  • It is the reason why Achilles sulks and refuses to fight, he is shamed by Agamemnon.
  • There is a struggle for power between the two men= Agamemnon is 'lord of the men' however Achilles has more authority and battle prowess.
  • Theme of divine intervention demonstrated- first see the fickleness of the Gods.
  • First see extent of Achilles 'fuera'- 'You shameless, self-centred...'
  • Demonstrates contrast between Achilles and Agamemenon.
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Lines 345-427

  • First time Achilles appears vulnerable,crying to Thetis however perhaps in the greek context, it wasn't as pathetic as viewed by a modern western audience- 'So he spoke in tears'
  • Again demonstrates fickleness of the Gods- the battle is just a game to them.
  • Women are described as an aspect of their appearance- objecets and prizes- 'fair-cheeked Briseis'
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Lines 428-500

  • First demonstration of the rituals the Greeks perform in order to appease the Gods.
  • First personification of dawn- 'early-born, rosy-fingered Dawn appeared'

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Lines 501-612

  • First evidence where gods are depicted no better than mortals- ' with you two squabbling'
  • Insight into Greek society- why the greeks regarded celebration.
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