The Iliad throws us right into the thick of battle. It opens when the Trojan War has already been raging for nine long years.
An uneasy truce has been declared between the Trojans and the Greeks (Achaeans as they’re called in The Iliad .) In the Greek camp, Agamemnon the King of Mycenae and Achilles the proud and valiant warrior of Phthia are locked in a fierce contest to claim the spoils of war.
The gods in Olympus watch horrified as the best of Greeks and Trojans are slain. However, Zeus has prohibited them from openly interfering. But finally, even the gods cannot stay neutral.
The mighty Zeus steps in to prod the Trojans into breaching the truce. Achilles, who is sulking in his tent refuses to fight and the Greeks suffer terrible losses. Achilles, a demigod is the son of the sea nymph Thetis and the King of the Myrmidions Peleus.
He has been rendered immortal like the gods except for one spot near his foot where his mother held him while she dipped him in the Styx. He is the greatest hero in The Iliad and known for his rage, impulsiveness and courage.
He watches as his comrades fall one by one and finally puts his pride aside.
He sends his beloved friend Patroclus into battle. But Apollo, the savior of the Trojans, dashes away Patroclus’ armor and the Trojan prince Hector slays him.
Maddened by anger and grief, Achilles vows revenge and resumes battle. And the epic goes on… The Iliad is purportedly written by the blind poet Homer some time during the eighth century BC.
Its supreme importance in Greek literature slowly permeated to the rest of the Western world and in time to come, the two epic poems, The Iliad and The Odyssey became the reference points for thousands of works of art.
European museums and art galleries are filled with works based on the themes, heroes and divinities from The Iliad .
Contemporary films have portrayed the Trojan War, while tourists throng the sites mentioned in the poems. It was first translated into English in the sixteenth century and has since then, gripped the collective imagination for generations. As one of the defining myths of western literature, The Iliad is indeed a must read for anyone interested in an epic tale.