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Free Study Guide-The Iliad by Homer-Free Online Book Notes Summary
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CONFLICT

The conflict can be viewed on both a global and individual level. The poem is basically about the war between the Greeks and the Trojans. Within the context of the war, however, the personal conflict of Achilles becomes central to the story and emerges as the main conflict of the poem, with the war serving as the general background for the personal development of the Greek hero.

Global View

Protagonist

The protagonist is the Greek army, which has come to Troy to fight for the return of Helen.

Antagonist

The antagonist is the Trojan army, who has rallied to fight the Greeks.


Climax

The climax occurs when Achilles, the greatest of the Greek warriors, decides to re-enter the fight against the Trojans. With his return to the battlefield, the Greek cause seems assured.

Outcome

Although the poem ends before the fall of Troy, the tide of war has clearly turned in favor of the Greeks, and it is assumed that they will eventually be victorious and that Helen will be returned to Menelaos.

Individual View

Protagonist

Achilles, the leader of the Myrmidons and the greatest of the Greek warriors, becomes the central focus of the poem. Although he has come to Troy seeking the return of Helen, he is insulted by Agamemnon, a fellow Greek, and refuses for most of the poem to join the fight. His pride and excessive emotion must be overcome for him to emerge as a true Greek hero.

Antagonist

Achilles' antagonist is his own being. His intense and excessive emotions, which run the gamut from anger to grief to vengeance, prevent him from functioning to his full capacity and performing as a true hero.

Climax

The climax of Achilles' plot is reached in Book XVI with the death of Patroclos. After his dear friend is killed by Hector, Achilles returns to the battlefield, seeking vengeance. His reappearance in the war gives Achilles the opportunity to prove his heroic qualities and master his excessive emotions.

Outcome

For Achilles, The Iliad ends as a tragic comedy. Although he has lost his dearest friend, he emerges as a leader who is in control of his excessive wrath. This is proven when he meets with Priam, agrees to return Hector's body, and openly weeps. His tears are for his own loss of Patroclos and for his foolishness in causing the deaths of so many of his fellow Greeks. Having dealt with his own weakness, Achilles becomes a true hero, capable of leading the Greek army to a future victory against Troy.

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