Homers Iliad

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General Plot Summary of Homer's Iliad The Iliad is a lengthy poem of some 15,693 lines, divided into 24 books (cantos) and has as its theme the anger (menis) of the Greek hero Achilles, the greatest of the heroes to sail to Troy. In the tenth year of the war, Achilles quarrels with the leader of the expedition, Agamemnon, over a slight to Achilles' honor. In his anger, Achilles withdraws from the fighting and wins the aid of Zeus, the king of the gods, to see to it that the war turns against the Greeks. Eventually (Book 9) things begin to go so badly that Agamemnon sends a delegation to Achilles to offer him compensation and ask him to rejoin the fighting. In an effort to make good the slight to Achilles' honor, Agamemnon promises an immense amount of treasure, but Achilles still refuses to help the Greeks. In the anger of the moment, he declares that he will only fight once the Trojans attack his own ships: at that point, he feels, he will be able to rejoin the battle as a point of personal honor rather than as Agamemnon's hired lackey. In the course of Book 12 (the center of the poem) the Trojans bring the war right up to the fortifications surrounding the Greek ships. Under the leadership of the heroic Hector, they manage to breach the Greek defenses and are soon in a position to destroy the Greek fleet. At this point, Achilles sees the weakness of his plan: should the Trojans destroy the fleet, the Greek forces would be placed in a vulnerable position and could potentially be wiped out. Unable to rejoin the battle himself without losing face, he is persuaded to allow his loyal friend Patroclus to join the battle, disguised in Achilles' armor, in order to win the Greeks some breathing room. Unfortunately, Patroclus gets caught up in the fighting and, contrary to Achilles' instructions, attempts to take the city of Troy himself, only to be killed by Hector with the aid of the pro-Trojan god Apollo (Book 16). At this point, Achilles falls into an inhuman rage: his former anger at Agamemnon and the Greeks is forgotten in his grief at the death of his friend and his desire to take revenge on Hector. In his anger, Achilles slaughters Trojans by the dozens and in a heartless manner that

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