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Achilles tending the wounded Patroclus
The first verse of the Iliad
Map of Homeric Greece.

The Iliad [1] is the oldest surviving work of Greek literature. Originally an oral epic poem, meaning it used to be said, not read, it was written down in the 8th century BC. It is an epic or very long poem made up of 24 chapters written in hexameters. It is probably based on a real event, the attack on Troy by the Mycenaeans. The poem includes early Greek myths and legends. The traditional writer of the Iliad is Homer. However, scholars are not sure if the poem was really written by one person.

The story takes place in the Trojan War. It talks about the confrontations of the warrior Achilles and King Agamemnon. The story itself covers only a few weeks at the end of the war, but it also talks about many of the Greek myths about the war. It tells the story from the wrath of Achilles, to the death and funeral of Hector and the siege of Troy.

Together with its sequel, the Odyssey, it is one of the two major Greek epic poems. Traditionally, both are attributed to Homer.

Some important characters in the Iliad are Achilles, Odysseus, Agamemnon, Menelaus, Priam, Hector, Paris, and Helen.


The poem starts with the god Apollo having sent a plague to the Greeks, because they captured the daughter of one of his priests. Agamemnon is forced to give her back, but also takes away Briseis from her owner Achilles. Achilles is angry and refuses to fight. But when his friend Patroclus is killed by Hector, he starts to fight again and kills Hector in a duel. Later Hector's father Priam comes in secret to Achilles to take back his favorite son's body to give it a proper funeral, which Achilles allows him to do. The poem ends with the funeral of Hector.

Other pages

Other websites

  • Iliad, online version of the work by Homer (English). Pope translation.
  • Iliad in Ancient Greek: from the Perseus Project (PP), with the Murray and Butler translations and hyperlinks to mythological and grammatical commentary; via the Chicago Homer, with the Lattimore translation and markup indicating formulaic repetitions


  1. Greek language Ἰλιάς; spelled in English with a single l, as in Greek. The word comes from Ileum, an alternative name for Troy.