LF310 -- Greek Mythology -- Fall
Trojan Saga, the Iliad, and
the Fall of Troy
- The Trojan royal family, p. 356
- The House of Atreus, p. 320
- Trojan Heroes: Hector,
Paris, Troilus, Deiphobus, Aeneas. Important allies: Sarpedon and Glaucos,
from Lycia; Rhesos, leader of the Thracians; Penthesileia, leader of the Amazons;
Memnon, leader of the Ethiopians. Dardanians is another name for the Trojans.
- Greek Heroes: Agamemnon
and Menelaus, sons of Atreus (the Atreids). Achilles, son of Peleus and Thetis,
from Phthia, and his Myrmidons; Ajax the Greater (Telamonian Ajax), from Salamis;
Teucer, a great archer, half brother of Ajax the Greater; Idomeneus, from
Crete; Ajax the Lesser (son of Oileus); Patroclos, cousin and best friend
of Achilles; Diomedes, from Argos, son of Tydeus; Odysseus, from Ithaca; Nestor,
from Pylos; Antilochus, his son; Philoctetes, archer who has Herakles bow
and arrows; Neoptolemos (new warrior), son of Achilles. The Greeks are called
Achaeans, Argives, Danaans.
from companion site to Classical Mythology.
Commentary, from companion site to Classical Mythology.
Review for the Iliad
- The title is derived from Ilion
or Ilium, another name for Troy, which was so called from Ilus, its legendary
- Homer, writing 750-700, is traditionally
from Chios or Smyrna, but certainly the poems originate from the coast of
Asia Minor. There is a very brief but useful entry on Homer.
- The oral tradition is recognizable
in objects mentioned that can have come only from the Mycenaean period, in
the repeated or formulaic passages, and in the epithets.
- The poem is written in dactylic
- The theme of the book is the tragedy
of war, from the point of view of both the victors and the victims. The heroics
of war are balanced against the pathos of wasted youth. The gods and their
relationships with human beings are proved to be arbitrary at best. The subject
of the poem is the wrath of Achilles, the best of the Achaeans, who is dishonored
by Agamemnon, king of men, wealthiest of kings, commander of all the Greek
armies. His power is in wealth, Achilles' is in merit. These two systems of
honor clash. Agamemnon deludes the men into thinking they can win the war
without Achilles, who, in withdrawing from the fight, brings disaster to his
friends and loses all he holds dear. We know the Greeks will eventually win,
but there is much sympathy for the Trojans, who fight for their homeland against
the invaders. The problem of Helen and Paris' guilt and why it must be punished
has to do with the host-guest laws and why they must not be broken. Homer's
attitude toward war shifts at different moments in the poem. Only with difficulty,
if at all, can the heroes reconcile the public code of honor with the private
price they must pay for it. The scenes of Hector in Troy and of Achilles mourning
Patroclus show this conflict most clearly.
- Book 1: The wrath of Achilles.
The plague sent by Apollo, whose priest, Chryses, has been dishonored. Chryseis
is returned, Briseis is taken from Achilles. Agamemnon dishonors (atime)
Achilles, the best of the Achaeans. Achilles withdraws from the fighting and
asks his mother, Thetis, for revenge. She asks Zeus to let the Trojans cause
trouble for the Greeks to remind them how much they need Achilles and how
dangerous it is to dishonor him. Agamemnon, although the wealthiest king,
cannot save them if Achilles does not fight. Zeus reluctantly agrees, but
Hera is unhappy. Hephaistos makes peace. The gods intervene in human affairs.
- Book 2: Zeus sends a dream
to Agamemnon, who tests the troops. Odysseus and Nestor are important in this
book. The gods continue to intervene. Nestor gives tactical advice. The troops
line up. There are 5 developed similes -- unique in the book. The poet calls
on the Muses to list the ships. There are around 400 verses on the 29 contingents
of the army, with leaders, towns, and numbers of ships. The Catalogue of Ships
covers most of the Greek world of Homer's time and earlier. Then there is
a bit about Eumelos and his 2 mares; Ajax as the best warrior (after Achilles),
and how Achilles' horses are the best and divine. Zeus sends Iris to the Trojans.
In 62 verses, 16 contingents are listed, but it is sketchier than the Achaean
- Book 3: Introduction of
Paris/Alexander. Helen with the elders of Troy and Priam; what they say about
her; how Priam treats her. Her feelings about Paris, Menelaos and her home
are a moving reminder of the confused moral and human issues of the war. She
is clearly unhappy in this scene. Priam asks her about the warriors. This
scene is called the Teichoskopia or Viewing from the Walls. It's a praising
of Agamemnon and Odysseus, Ajax and Idomeneus. In the poem, Helen is called
dios, or child of Zeus. There is a duel betwen Menelaus and Paris.
Menelaos is about to win, but Aphrodite breaks the chin strap of Paris and
snatches him away to the safety of his bedroom. Aphrodite tells Helen to go
to his bed. Helen tries to resist, but makes Aphrodite angry and is frightened
into complying. Agamemnon says Menelaos has won.
- Book 4: Assembly of the
gods. Zeus provokes Hera and Athena. Athena organizes the breaking of the
truce. Agamemnon reviews his troops, rebukes some and praises others. Ares
fights for the Trojans. The first major conflict between the two armies.
- Book 5: The aristeia
of Diomedes. Athena inspires Diomedes to fight in a godlike way. She gives
him the power to distinguish gods from men. He is given permission to wound
Aphrodite, which he does. Diomedes tries to attack Aeneas, who is guarded
by Apollo. Ares fights for Hector. Athena and Hera take to the field and rally
Diomedes, who wounds Ares. When he goes whining home to Zeus, he is told that
it is his own fault.
- Book 6: Glaucos and Diomedes
exhange armor. Hector goes back to Troy and asks Paris, who is in bed with
Helen, to get up and go into battle. The domestic scenes show the Trojans
as victims, as human beings. Hector and Andromache together with Astyanax,
who is frightened of his father's helmet. What they say to one another, why
Hector must go and fight even though he knows the city will fall when he dies.
- Book 7: Hector offers one-on-one
combat. The Greeks decide by lot and it falls to Ajax, who gets the better
of the fight. As night falls, the two exchange genealogies and gifts of honor.
At the Trojan council, Antenor proposes sending Helen back to the Greeks,
but Priam refuses. There is a truce to burn the dead. The Greeks build the
defenses suggested by Nestor. Zeus has more horror in store for the Greeks.
- Book 8: Assembly on Olympos.
Zeus reminds them all of his power and tells the gods not to interfere. Hector
drives his forces to the Greek walls. Nestor and Diomedes try to stop him
but are driven back by a thunderbolt from Zeus. Hera tells Poseidon she wishes
they could intervene but he says no. Agamemnon rouses the men and is given
a sign by Zeus of his eventual victory. Teucer and Ajax fight together. Hera
and Athena plot to arm and go to battle, but Zeus sees them and threatens
them. They grumble, but Zeus says he will kill whole armies and could send
her to Tartaros if he wished. The fighting stops for the night.
- Book 9: Agamemnon calls
the men together and says "Let's go home." Diomedes replies no, and says Zeus
did not give Agamemnon courage. They call a council and Nestor says Agamemnon
is to blame for dishonoring Achilles and must make reparations. Agamemnon
agrees and lists what he will give. The Greeks send Phoenix, Ajax, and Odysseus
to try to persuade Achilles to return to war, but he rejects the gifts and
the arguments, saying that the same honor awaits the coward and the brave.
Look at some of his arguments. Phoneix tells the story of Meleager. The embassy
returns and gives Achilles' answer. Diomedes says the Greeks must unite without
him and tells Agamemnon to fight in the front ranks the next day.
- Book 10: The Doloneia.
The Greek chiefs decide to send someone on a spying mission. Diomedes volunteers
and chooses Odysseus to go with him. In the Trojan camp, Hecotr offers the
best Achaean horses to anyone who will go on a spying mission. Dolon volunteers
if he can have the horses of Achilles. Diomedes and Odysseus catch Dolon,
who tells them many things about the Trojan camp before they kill him. They
then go to the camp of Rhesus, the king of the Thracian allies of the Trojans,
and kills them in their sleep. They drive away the horses to the welcome and
praises of the Greeks.
- Book 11: Agamemnon's aristeia.
Zeus removes Hector from the fighting until Agamemnon is wounded by Coon.
Major battles. Paris wounds Diomedes in the foot. Odysseus is wounded. Many
similes. Ajax kills many Trojans before Zeus forces him to retreat. Patroclos
comes to Nestor's tent to see who is wounded. Nestor berates him and speaks
about his own past, tells Patroclos to try to convince Achilles to fight,
or at least to let Patroclos go out in Achilles' armor. Patroclos dresses
the wound of Eurypylus.
- Book 12: Zeus lets Hector
run loose. The Greeks flee to their ships. The trench and rampart cannot hold
out much longer. Hector's horses won't jump. The Trojans take 5 battalions
on foot. They fight before the gates. Hector gets an omen on the left, Polydamas
says it is inauspicious: they will go, but lose many men. Hector says they
must. Trojans attack the wall. Sarpedon and Glaucos discuss the heroic code.
The Aeantes and Teucer fight. Teucer hits Glaucos; Sarpedon makes a breach
in the wall. Farming and weaving similes. Zeus makes Hector break through
the wall. He breaks down the gate with a rock. He calls his men to storm the
wall. The Argives scatter back by the ships in terror, seeing no way out.
- Book 13: There is a retardation
of the plot on the divine and human plane. Zeus is distracted and does not
believe the gods will disobey. Poseidon enters the battle secretly to encourage
the Achaeans to fight. Idomeneus and Meriones meet behind the lines. The aristeia
of Idomeneus. There is then fierce and evenly balanced fighting on the Left.
Hector and Ajax are in the center. Zeus vs. Poseidon. There struggle parallels
that of the Trojans and Greeks, as well as that of Agamemnon and Achilles.
Ares' son is killed by Deiphobus. Menelaus claims that this brutal carnage
comes from Zeus. Throughout Book 13 the fighting is described using very elaborate
and striking similes.
- Book 14: Further retardation
of the plot. The 3 wounded kings, Odysseus, Agamemnon, and Diomedes meet with
Nestor. Agamemnon again says "let's leave"; Odysseus says "You are the disaster."
Diomedes says they should all return to the battle, fighting on the outskirts
and spurring the others on to fight. On Olympos, Hera asks Aphrodite for Love
and Desire, and also asks Sleep to help her. Zeus is conquered by Love and
Sleep, and Hera tells Poseidon to let the Greeks get the upper hand. One of
the worst battles occurs.
- Book 15: Zeus wakes, berates
Hera, and sets to work reversing the Greek gains. The Greeks are driven back
to their defenses. There are interludes with Nestor and Patroklos. In the
battle at the ships, Hector breaks through to the ships. Zeus describes what
will happen to Hector and Patroclus. Hera tries to provoke Ares, but Athena
stops him by reminding him that if Zeus is really angered, innocent and guilty
alike will suffer. Iris tells Poseidon to leave the battle. He complains angrily,
claiming to be Zeus's equal. Poseidon agrees to give up his help, but claims
that unless Troy falls, he will not be reconciled to Zeus. Apollo is sent
to get Hector back in the battle. Hector rampages and the Greeks panic. Apollo
kicks down the banks of the trench, drives the horses acorss, and tears down
the rampart like sand castles. Hector and Ajax square off. The book is filled
- Book 16: Patroclus appeals
to Achilles, who calls him a baby girl and will not fight. Achilles allows
Patroclos to enter the fighting and wear his armor, but warns him not to try
to rout the Trojans. Meanwhile, the Trojans fire a ship. Achilles sends the
Myrmidons in, wolves simile. Achilles harangues the men and prays to Zeus,
who answers only half his prayer. The Trojans think Patroclos is Achilles.
Aristeia of Patroclus. First there is deadlock, then some Greek successes.
Achilles immortal horses leap over the trench. Sarpedon meets Patroclos. Zeus
debates what to do with Sarpedon, but Hera says he must die or the gods will
be furious. Zeus showers blood in his honor and vows to return the body to
Lycia. When Patroclus kills Sarpedon, Glaucos runs to Hector and the Trojans
grieve for Sarpedon. Zeus's favor seems somewhat arbitrary in this book, first
for the Trojans, then against them. Apollo retrieves the body of Sarpedon
and Sleep and Death take him to Lycia. Agains the advice of Achilles, Patroclus
tries to take Troy. He rampages, but eventually Apollo slams him in the back
with his hand and knocks the helmet off his head. Euphorbus hits him with
a spear and Hector finishes him off. Patroclus predicts Hector's death at
the hands of Achilles. The immortal horses escape.
- Book 17: The fight over
the body of Patroclus. Menelaus vs. Euphorbus. Hector strips Patroclus of
Achilles' armor and begins to wear it. Zeus says it was not right for Hector
to take the armor. He grants Hector great power for the moment, to compensate
for all that is to come. There is a terrible struggle for the body. An episode
with Achilles' horses, who weep for Patroclus Zeus on man. Zeus has 2 changes
of heart. The aristeia of Automedon, the driver. The Trojans exert
great pressure. The Greeks send Antilochus to Achilles. There is a slow Greek
withdrawal with the body. Apollo disguised speaks to Hector and Aeneas. 5
similes at the end of the book.
- Book 18: Achilles fears
Patroclus is dead and Antilochus arrives to confirm those fears. Achilles'
mourning cries reach his mother. Catalogue of the Nereids. Thetis on Achilles,
Achilles on the heroic code. Achilles shows himself in an effort to help the
Greeks; fire blazes from his head. There is Trojan chaos at his cry. At night,
Polydamas advises Hector to retreat to the city, but he refuses. The Argives
grieve. Zeus and Hera provoke one another. Thetis asks Hephaistos to make
new armor for Achilles. He readily agrees. Description of the armor: know
what is on it and why.
- Book 19: Thetis brings
the armor to Achilles. There is a Greek assembly and public reconciliation
between Achilles and Agamemnon. Achilles and Briseis lament the death of Patroclus.
Achilles arms. He hears the prophecy of his own death from his horse, Xanthus.
- Book 20: The slow buildup
to the aristeia of Achilles. He must not meet Hector too soon. In the
council on Olympos, Zeus invites the gods to intervene, and unleashes the
dogs of war. They take sides. Aeneas and Achilles meet; they fight. Aeneas'
destiny. Poseidon saves him. Achilles rampages, killing several quickly. He
challenges Hector, but Apollo whisks Hector away. Description of Achilles,
reeking with blood as his chariot rolls on.
- Book 21: Achilles fights
the river Xanthus or Scamander. Clogged with bodies, the River Xanthus is
angered and tells Achilles to stop and tells Apollo to help the Trojans. Achilles
overhears the latter and charges the River. He nearly drowns, but Poseidon
and Athena come to help him. Xanthus calls up the Simois River to help. Hera
sends Hephaistos to fire the River. He begs Hera to tell Hephaistos to stop.
Total war. Zeus is delighted. The gods at war: Athena downs Ares and beats
up Aphrodite. Poseidon challenges Apollo, who turns away. Artemis berates
him, but Hera boxes her ears. Hermes says he won't fight with Zeus's wives.
Artemis cries on Zeus's lap. Priam opens the gates of Troy. Apollo takes the
form of Agenor and lures Achilles away from the walls of Troy while the Trojans
flee inside the walls.
- Book 22: Priam and Hecuba
beg Hector to come inside the walls, but he will not. Achilles chases him
3 times around the walls of Troy. finally Hector is lured back into fighting
him. Zeus's scales. Hector knows he will die. They fight; Hector asks for
burial. Achilles refuses. Hector predicts Achilles' death. The pathos of wasted
youth. The Achaeans all stab the dead body of Hector. Achilles pierces his
ankles and ties Hector to his chariot and drags him around. Priam, Hecuba,
and Andromache react to the mutilation. The fall of the city is predicted,
the death of Astyanax is predicted and mourned.
- Book 23: An interlude.
The ghost of Patroclus urges Achilles to bury him. The Greeks build the pyre
and burn the body with the sacrificial victims. Aphrodite and Apollo protect
the body of Hector. Achilles holds funeral games for Patroclus. There is a
chariot race, which shows the character of the heroes, especially Diomedes,
Antilochus, Menelaus, and the importance of rank. Boxing match, wrestling
match, foot race, duel, shot put, archery contest, and aborted spear throw
when the contest is called for Agamemnon. Achilles presides over all and is
shown in his best light.
- Book 24: The gods debate
what to do about Hector. Zeus sends Thetis to tell Achilles to accept ransom
for the body. Zeus sends Priam alone, under the conduct of Hermes, to Achilles'
camp to ransom the body. Priam and Achilles each weep for their dead. Priam
is impatient and Achilles is still angered, but they are civil. At this moment,
before Achilles dies and before Troy falls, Priam and Achilles are closer
to one another than to anyone else. They make a truce for 11 days to mourn
and bury Hector. Priam takes the body back to the city. Again, Andromache
mourns the future of Astyanax. Helen and Hecuba also mourn. The Trojans build
a pyre for Hector, burn him, bury his bones, and hold a funeral feast.
The Fall of Troy is recounted
on pages 379-387.
- Achilles kills Penthesileia and
Memnon, then Thersites.
- Paris kills Achills
- Ajax brings back the body
- The contest for the armor of Achilles:
Odyesseus wins it; Ajax goes mad and commits suicide.
- Sacrifice of Polyxena.
- Odysseus steals the Palladium.
- Odysseus plans the wooden horse
tactic and has Epeus build it.
- The Greeks sail for Tenedos and
leave Sinon behind.
- Cassandra foretells what will
- Laocoon spears thehorse; he and
his sons are killed by serpents.
- Helen walks around the horse and
imitates each soldier's wife; Odysseus retains them on pain of death.
- The city burns.
- Aeneas escapes with his father
Anchises and his son Iulus, and goes on to found Rome.
- Astyanax is thrown over the walls
of the city; Neoptolemus kills Priam on the altar and takes Andromache.