Our decision to study the Fagles edition of The Iliad in AO6 instead of a retelling has proved a good one for us. It is not an easy read by any means, but it is easy to see why the story has endured for so many hundreds of years, and we will be really glad to be able to say we've read it. Besides, it's a really, really great story - it's the classic of classics, after all!
Iliad means 'a song about Ileum(Troy)', but the story is about much more than that. It is an epic war story, and focuses on the revengeful fury of Achilles - who in fact sulks by himself for the first half of the book. It begins in the final year of the ten year long Greek siege of Troy. Achilles has been insulted by Agamemnon, the leader of the Greek armies, and refuses to fight for him. The Iliad is the story of the few weeks leading up to the devastating clash between the two greatest warriors - Achilles, son of the goddess Thetis, versus Hector, son of King Priam of Troy.
The relationship between the gods and the mortals is a recurring narrative of the story, and has been the basis of many great discussions in the past few weeks. Some years before The Iliad begins, Zeus had been asked to decide which of the three goddesses, his wife, Hera; Athena, Goddess of Wisdom; or Aphrodite, Goddess of Love and Beauty was the fairest. Sensible husband that he was, Zeus was reluctant to decide, and when none of the other gods would either, Paris of Troy was called to Olympus to decide for them. Paris chose Aphrodite, but only because she bribed him by promising him the most beautiful mortal woman - Helen. Helen was already married to Menelaus, the King of Sparta, but nobody cared about that...except Menelaus...and his brother, Agamemnon. The Greeks' expedition to retrieve Helen from Paris in Troy is the beginning of the Trojan War. The two offended goddesses, Hera and Athena, are now, of course, bitter enemies of Troy.They help the Greeks. Aphrodite and her lover, Ares, fight for Troy. Zeus tries to stay impartial, but most often fights for Troy as well. It's all very complicated, but terrible exciting!!
Here are are a few notes that have helped us keep everything organised. We printed this off and stuck a copy in the front of the book. You may find them useful as well!
|Great map of places mentioned in The Iliad from here.|
Alternative names for Troy
Alternative names for characters
Paris = Alexander
Diomedes = Son of Tydeus = Tydides
Agamemnon and Menelaus = Sons of Atreus = Atridae (singularly they are sometimes called Atrides)
The two Ajaxes = Aeantes
Patroclus = Son of Menoetius
Nestor = Gerenian horseman
Sparta = Lacedaemon
Gods supporting the Greeks
Thetis - Achilles mother
Gods supporting the Trojans
Zeus (Claims to be neutral)
Agamemnon, Commander of the Greek forces
Menelaus, King of Sparta, Agamemnon's brother, and husband of Helen
Helen, Wife of Menelaus, daughter of Zeus and Leda, sister of Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra, Wife of Agamemnon
Achilles, Leader of the Myrmidons, King of Phthia
Patroclus, Son of Menoetius, Achilles' friend
Nestor, Aged King of Pylos
Odysseus, King of Ithaca
Greater Ajax, Son of Telamon
Lesser Ajax, Son of Oileus
Diomedes, King of Argos, Son of Tydeus
Calchas, Chief seer of the Greeks
Priam, Aged King of Troy
Hecuba, Priam's wife
Hector, Leader of the Trojan forces, favorite son of Priam and Hecuba
Paris Brother of Hector; abductor of Helen.
Sarpedon, King of Lycia, Son of Zeus and Laodameia
Aeneas, Son of Anchises and Aphrodite