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The Iliad




_____ 1. The Iliad starts with

    A. a description of the Trojan horse
    B. an invocation to the muse of poetry
    C. the quarrel between Agamemnon and Menelaos
_____ 2. Agamemnon's camp suffered a plague because of
    A. Achilleus' jealousy
    B. Apollo's anger
    C. Poseidon's interference
_____ 3. Homer opens his poem
    A. with a detailed background of the Trojan War
    B. with Thetis' visit to Zeus on Mount Olympos
    C. in the ninth year of the Trojan War
_____ 4. One thing apparent about Homer's gods was that
    A. they were all equally powerful
    B. they possessed exaggerated human characteristics
    C. they were always treated seriously in poetry
_____ 5. In Book II the army's desertion was halted through the efforts of
    I. Athene
    II. Zeus
    III. Odysseus
    A. I and II only
    B. I and III only
    C. II and III only
_____ 6. The Book II survey of the Achaian host is generally referred to as
    A. "The Shield of the Brave"
    B. "The High and the Mighty"
    C. "The Catalog of Ships"
_____ 7. Achilleus' flaw was
    A. in his heels
    B. his passionate pride
    C. his inability to think strategically
_____ 8. Paris agreed to a duel with Menelaos after
    A. he saw Helen's face
    B. a lecture from Hektor
    C. Aphrodite's intervention
_____ 9. Homer's technique with the beautiful Helen was to
    A. describe her face in loving detail
    B. refrain from detailed description
    C. convert its one blemish into an asset
_____ 10. The destruction of Troy could be traced to
    A. the ill will of Hera, queen of the gods
    B. Agamemnon's breaking of the truce
    C. Pandaros' failed attempt on Agamemnon's life

11. What is the cause of Achilleus' wrath? Describe the event and the reasoning behind his reactions. (See Book I and Book IX.)

12. What are Homeric epithets? Describe their use. (See the Introduction.)

13. Who is the real hero of the Iliad?


_____ 1. Book V, which describes the furious battles, has been called

    A. the Aeneid
    B. the Diomedeia
    C. the Achaian Epic
_____ 2. When lots were cast to find an opponent for Hector, the winner was
    A. Telemonian Aias
    B. Odysseus
    C. Idomeneus
_____ 3. Odysseus attempts to reconcile Achilleus by
    A. promising eternal fealty to the hero
    B. offering him the ship he had admired
    C. revising Agamemnon's message
_____ 4. The bad omen identified by Polydoros was
    A. the eagle with the serpent in its claws
    B. the raven beneath the coat of mail
    C. the albatross perched on the wall
_____ 5. Achilleus' fatal decision was to
    A. allow Patroklos to wear his armor
    B. defy Zeus in front of the other gods
    C. disguise himself as a Myrmidon
_____ 6. Achilleus' imminent death was prophesied by
    A. a horse
    B. a blind seer
    C. the weeping Briseis
_____ 7. Homer offers a symbolic episode in
    A. the wailing of Priam and Hekabe
    B. the battle between Achilleus and the river god
    C. Poseidon's assistance of the Argives
_____ 8. Before his classic battle with Achilleus, Hektor
    A. prayed to Athene
    B. fled in fear
    C. asked his mother's blessing
_____ 9. The beginning and end of this epic poem
    A. shed light on Achilleus' development
    B. show the lighter side of the gods on Mount Olympos
    C. reveal Homer's concern for justice
_____ 10. The Iliad concludes with
    A. an elaborate funeral banquet
    B. the somber predictions of the gods
    C. the plans for the Trojan horse

11. Describe the use and range of similes in the Iliad. (See the Introduction.)

12. Describe the character of Nestor. What makes his speeches so special? (See Major Characters, Book XI, The Critics.)

13. Would you say the Iliad is a prowar or antiwar poem?


  1. B
  2. B
  3. C
  4. B
  5. B
  6. C
  7. B
  8. B
  9. B
  10. A

11. Because of a plague sent by Apollo, Agamemnon is forced to return a girl, Chryseis, he had taken as a war prize. To compensate for this loss- and the accompanying loss of face- Agamemnon takes Achilleus' prize, Briseis, away from him. Achilleus feels this is an attack on the code of honor by which warriors fight. They take great risk to prove themselves courageous in battle, and the prizes they receive are one indication of how nobly they perform. He is also shamed at being singled out among the Achaians for this stripping and is embarrassed that it is done in front of everyone. He reasons that the war is being fought over a woman who was taken from one man by another (Paris ran away with Helen, who was married to Menelaos) and feels his situation ought to be accorded the same respect. After all, what is the value of the heroic code if it can be subverted by one man's spur-of-the-moment decision?

12. Epithets are short characteristic phrases that describe a quality or skill or position of someone. Some examples are "the lord of men" (Agamemnon); "good at the war cry" (Diomedes); and "swift-footed" (Achilleus). Epithets may be remnants of a previous oral tradition handed down intact to Homer. They are used partially to fill out the meter of the poem and sometimes are given to characters because they fit the metrical pattern of their names. They add a heroic dimension to the characters they describe, and the repetition of these qualities enlarges them over the course of the poem.

13. a. The true hero of the poem is Achilleus. He is the most important warrior, and the whole plot hinges on his anger and its consequences. Although he doesn't appear in most of the poem, his influence is felt throughout it. He is the one character actually to undergo change, and that is the theme of the Iliad. After he is finally made to recognize that his pride has gone too far, he tempers his anger by reaching out to Priam in peace.

b. Hektor is the hero of the Iliad. The noblest and purest of the characters, he fights for a cause he doesn't really believe in, because he is defending his home. He is a great warrior but also a peace-loving, domestic man, as shown by his love for his parents, wife, and children.

c. Homer believes Achilleus and Hektor are both heroes. They perform gloriously, and each represents the power of his respective army. But both are also human: Achilleus' grief transforms him and shows his emotional depth; Hektor's love of family shows his humane side.


  1. B
  2. A
  3. C
  4. A
  5. A
  6. A
  7. B
  8. B
  9. A
  10. A

11. Similes are a poetic means by which Homer can take us out of the war at hand and bring in other aspects of life to expand his canvas. Often the scenes come from peaceful and domestic activities back home, reminding us of the virtues war is fighting for and providing a kind of encyclopedia of information on Greek life. Often the similes compare warriors to animals on the hunt, and this exposes the underside of brutality and inhumanness that war brings out in people. Also, similes frequently refer to natural powers like storms and tidal waves. This makes the stakes of the battles seem larger, as if two warriors fighting represented elemental battles of the universe.

12. Nestor is portrayed as the elder statesman of the Achaians. Even though he can no longer fight the way he used to, he certainly can tell us about the way he used to fight. His speeches are long-winded and he tends to wander a bit because of age, but his elaborate tales always have a purpose. By drawing on either his own past exploits or those of legendary heroes, he seeks to provide moral examples to his friends. The past serves as a model for present behavior.

13. a. The Iliad clearly shows the horror of war. On the battlefield we see mutilation of bodies graphically presented again and again. The pictures of life at Troy are filled with lamentation and grief over the fallen Trojan heroes. Great heroes on both sides die- Patroklos for the Achaians and Hektor for the Trojans. Both losses are felt strongly by Achilleus and the house of Priam, respectively. The cause of the war is not described with approval, and in the end the slaughter seems needless.

b. The Iliad, in spite of its graphic battle descriptions, glorifies war. Achilleus and Hektor, the greatest fighters for either side, are presented as heroes with almost divine power. They are noble warriors fighting for a code of honor, upholding their social traditions. By and large the warriors are depicted as great and glorious men, performing fantastic and heroic feats. Though they die, they die for their ideals.

[The Iliad Contents]


  1. What are the character differences between Achilleus and Odysseus, and what have they come to stand for in history?
  2. What is the Doloneia?
  3. Describe Homer's attitude toward the character of Paris.
  4. What is the term aristeia, and to whom does it refer?
  5. Why does Agamemnon take Briseis away from Achilleus?
  6. What is the plan of Zeus, and how does it affect the poem?
  7. Why do Hera and Athene support the Achaians?
  8. What is the teichoscopeia?
  9. Explain the significance of stripping a corpse of its armor. How does Homer use such an event?
  10. Describe the heroic code of honor.
  11. What is the aegis?
  12. What is the significance of the scene at Troy in Book VI?
  13. In terms of the plot of the Iliad, what happens when so many of the Achaian leaders are wounded in Book XI?
  14. How does shaming operate in the Iliad?
  15. How do we learn of domestic life other than that at Troy?
  16. "Patroklos is a sacrificial victim." Explain.
  17. What is the theomachia?
  18. What is ate, and which characters are primarily related to it?
  19. Explain the significance of the fight between Achilleus and the river Xanthos.
  20. What do the funeral rites and games for Patroklos tell us about the world of the Iliad?
  21. Do you feel Achilleus is right or wrong to be so angry at Agamemnon? Explain.
  22. What relationship does Poulydamas have to Hektor?
  23. Aphrodite and Helen exchange sharp words in Book III. What is the significance of their exchange?
  24. What forces Achilleus finally to reenter the war?
  25. Explain the significance- for Achilleus and for the poem- of Achilleus' return of Hektor's body to Priam.

[The Iliad Contents]


One of Homer's three interchangeable terms for Greeks (also Argives, Danaans).

Greek hero, son of Peleus and Thetis. A great warrior, possessed of fierce ideals and emotional turbulence.

Trojan warrior taken by Menelaos and Agamemnon, but denied ransom and killed.

The powerful shield used by Athene and Zeus, derived from a thundercloud.

Commander-in-chief of the Greek forces, king of Mykenai.

Trojan warrior, killed by Achilleus.

Another name for Achilleus, meaning "descendant of Aiakos."

Plural name for the two Greek warriors named Aias.

Son of Telemon (Telemonian Aias), a huge Greek warrior; also the son of Oileus, another fighter.

Major Trojan warrior. Virgil named his epic, The Aeneid, after him.

Another name for Paris, Trojan prince, instigator of the war due to his capture of Helen.

Trojan elder, who urges the return of Helen.

Son of Nestor, a Greek warrior. Figures heavily in the funeral games for Patroklos.

Goddess of love and beauty, guider of Helen.

Archer god, main protector of the Trojans.

Furious god of war, often war itself.

Another name for Hermes, who guides Priam to the Achaian camp.

One of three interchangeable terms for the Greeks (also Danaans, Achaians).

A Greek city, domain of Diomedes.

The point at which a hero displays his most intense courage and valor.

Goddess of the hunt, Trojan supporter.

Son of Ares.

Child of Hektor and Andromache.

Moral or spiritual blindness that overtakes a character and causes ill judgment.

Wise goddess of war, protectress of Achilleus and one of the main Greek supporters.

Another name for Agamemnon usually, but also for Menelaos; means "son of Atreus."

Captive girl originally awarded to Achilleus but taken by Agamemnon, precipitating the "wrath of Achilleus."

Long descriptive passage in Book II outlining all the battle contingents at Troy.

Captive girl taken by Agamemnon. Apollo forces him to return her by sending a plague on the Greek forces.

Father of Chryseis, priest of Apollo.

The metrical form used by Homer in his epic poems, consisting of six feet of variable quantity.

One of three interchangeable terms for the Greeks (also Argives, Achaians).

Trojan contingent headed by Aineias.

Passage in Book XIV in which Hera seduces Zeus.

Brother of Hektor.

Great Greek warrior, son of Tydeus (sometimes referred to as Tydeides). Book V is often called the Diomedeia because of his powerful exploits.

Trojan spy caught by Diomedes and Odysseus in Book X, which is called the Doloneia after him.

Group of poems by various authors that make up the entire story of the Trojan War.

Short descriptive term used by Homer to describe a character, frequently repeated throughout the poem.

Goddess of strife.

Love-power governed by Aphrodite.

Trojan warrior, killed by Menelaos. His death in Book XVII is described in a famous simile.

Greek warrior, wounded in battle.

Trojan warrior, ancestral friend of Diomedes, who spares his life.

Ruler of the underworld, brother of Zeus and Poseidon.

Wife of Priam, mother of Hektor.

Greatest and most beloved Trojan warrior, arch enemy of Achilleus, son of Priam and Hekabe, husband of Andromache.

Beautiful woman; wife of Menelaos but mistress of Paris. The Trojan War is fought on her behalf.

Trojan warrior, brother of Hektor.

Lame god of the blacksmith's art, creator of divine armor for Achilleus.

Ever-scheming and powerful goddess; wife of Zeus, major defender of the Greek cause.

Also called Argeiphontes, god who protects Priam.

Group of narrative poems sometimes attributed to Homer.

Divine substance that runs through the immortals' veins instead of blood.

Large mountain near Troy.

A herald of Priam.

Kretan commander, a great Greek fighter.

Another name for Troy, from which the Iliad gets its name.

Messenger of Zeus.

Soothsayer for the Greeks.

Trojan warrior killed by Patroklos, sparking a fierce battle over his body.

Largest of the Greek islands, whose forces are led by Idomeneus.

One of the ancient Greek gods, overthrown by Zeus, his son.

Mother of Helen, perhaps by mating with Zeus in the form of a swan.

Trojan warrior, killed by Achilleus.

Physician for the Greeks.

The "Gorgon": snake-haired creature whose severed head stared from the aegis.

Large Greek room.

Legendary hero whose story is used by Phoinix to persuade Achilleus to fight.

Ruler of Sparta, brother of Agamemnon, cuckolded husband of Helen.

Father of Patroklos.

Greek fighter, companion of Idomeneus.

One of the nine goddesses who inspire the various arts, invoked by Homer to begin the Iliad.

Powerful Greek city, ruled by Agamemnon.

Greek contingent led by Achilleus.

Sea nymphs, companions of Thetis, daughters of Nereus.

Elder statesman of the Greeks, a great talker.

Brilliant Greek warrior and counselor. His travels home from the war are the subject of Homer's epic, the Odyssey.

Father of one of the fighters called Aias.

Primal waters surrounding the world, depicted on the divine shield of Achilleus.

Mountainous abode of the immortals.

Trojan warrior who breaks the truce in Book IV.

Another name for Alexandros, Trojan prince.

Greek commander, comrade of Achilleus, whose death causes Achilleus to reenter the war.

Father of Achilleus.

An elder of the Greeks, old friend of Achilleus.

Son of Priam, killed by Achilleus.

Fierce god of the sea and of earthquakes, brother of Zeus and Hades, defender of the Greeks.

Trojan warrior and friend of Hektor.

King of Troy, father of Hektor and many others.

Greek city, domain of Nestor.

Ancient Greek singer who recited epics.

Trojan ally, killed by Diomedes; possessor of great horses.

Son of Zeus, a Trojan fighter whose death almost causes Zeus to intervene.

Landmark gates before the walls of Troy.

River that crosses the plain of Troy (also called the plain of Skamandros). Also referred to as Xanthos.

Greek city, home of Menelaos.

"View from the wall": referring to Helen's description of the Greek forces as seen from the Trojan walls.

Father of one of the Greek fighters called Aias.

Younger brother of Telemonian Aias, a great archer.

"Battle of the gods": referring to the immortals' fight in Book XXI.

Offensive Greek fighter; a buffoon and a whiner.

Sea goddess, mother of Achilleus.

Walled city on the coast of Turkey; also called Ilion.

Father of Diomedes; sometimes referred to as Tydeides.

Father, perhaps, of Helen.

Another name for the river Skamandros.

Most powerful of the immortals, a thunder-and-lightning sky god. His plan outlines the plot of the Iliad.

THE STORY, continued

ECC [The Iliad Contents] []

© Copyright 1985 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.
Electronically Enhanced Text © Copyright 1993, World Library, Inc.
Further distribution without the written consent of, Inc. is prohibited.

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