Culture from Prehistoric Greece to the Fall of the Roman Empire

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The Iliad is a poem that can be categorized as an ancient epic poem from Greece. The poem was set in the period of the Trojan war which was a siege on Troy, the city by an alliance of states from Greece. The poem tells stories related to events related to war during the conflict between Achilles, a warrior and King Agamemnon. The poem mentions many of ancient Greek legends even though it the story it covers only relates to the last year of the war. The fact that the poem mentions many early events and warriors is part of the reason that controversy surrounds it authorship (Jong, 2004). It not only mentions the past but also predicts the future with events such as the death of Achilles and many other events. Consequently, the Iliad tells the entire story of the Trojan war. It is purported that the poem can be dated back to the 8th Century with an estimation placing it to date between the 760 and 710 years BC. The period in which the Iliad is set is during the Trojan war which was a war that was directed against the ancient city of Troy by Greeks after Helen of Troy was taken by Paris from the king of Sparta; Menelaus. The Trojan war is a major event synonymous with Greek mythology and always gets mentioned in relation to Greek literature. The poem is attributed to Homer. The Iliad tells a story of the last part of the war and in it, there is mention of Odysseus who was one of the heroes of the war as he journeys back home. The origin of the war that spurned the advent of the Iliad is a conflict that involved goddesses, Eris, Athena, Hera, and Aphrodite after Eris, who was the goddess of conflict and discord gave the others an apple known as the Apple of Discord to determine the best between them. It was decided that Aphrodite get the apple and she in turn made Helen the wife to the king fall in love with Paris who then took her from the king to Troy. The king and Helens brother led the war and took Troy captive for ten years. With a myriad of troops, they brought the city to its knees and killed most of their best soldiers. This invited the wrath of the gods and as such, few of the soldiers made it home and wandered to new-found colonies. Relating the Iliad to particular periods in Greek is not easy as the story that it tells is more complicated than simply looking for similarities between the events of the poem and those related to Greek history. As much as there have been evidences to show that the events of the poem might have happened, linking them to history remains a challenge.

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As much as different scholars believe that the poem is a compilation of many poems by different authors over the course of time, it is important to note the poem actually tells a comprehensible story about something. The author of the poem seems to have diverse themes in relation to the poem. The theme of war glorification comes out strongly. The characters in the poem are lauded and gauged on their ability to be adept warriors. For instance, Paris, who takes Helen from the king is depicted as a man who does not like war and fighting and for this he receives scorn from Helen and his family. Achilles is depicted as a competent warrior who is admired and respected (Graves, 2014). Even the gods in the poem are prone to fighting and competition as the Trojan war is the work of a conflict between the gods. It seems as if fighting is an honorable theme in the Iliad and an aversion to fighting is considered a lazy flaw. The poem also paints a gruesome detail of the accounts of war, giving details about tragic deaths of soldiers and the slavery of women and children. However, the poem still justifies the war by noting that both fronts have a valid reason to fight. The author of the Iliad seems to make a central point that involves interconnected issues. War and revenge are the central theme that the author seems to communicate but in the context of family, love, honor, anger and finally reconciliation. It would not be appropriate to forget the aspect of love since Helen and Paris elopement is what spurns the war. It seems as though the author is communicating that men go to war to protect their honor. This is especially true if they have been scorned the way the king felt scorned by Paris when he runs away with Helen. Achilles wrath is also representative of the underlying theme of war and this comes out by Homer portraying him as a capable warrior who is drawn into war to protect his honor and that of his country. Assuaging Achilles wrath finally leads to reconciliation.


Graves, R. (2014). The Anger of Achilles: Homer's Iliad. RosettaBooks.Jong, I. J. (2004). Narrators and focalizers: the presentation of the story in the Iliad. Bristol Classical Press.

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