The Iliad Homer


The Iliad


Of Peleus’ son, Achilles, sing, O Muse,
The vengeance, deep and deadly; whence to Greece
Unnumbered ills arose; which many a soul
Of mighty warriors to the viewless shades
Untimely sent; they on the battle plain
Unburied lay, a prey to rav’ning dogs,
And carrion birds; but so had Jove decreed,
From that sad day when first in wordy war,
The mighty Agamemnon, King of men,
Confronted stood by Peleus’ godlike son.

Say then, what God the fatal strife provok’d?
Jove’s and Latona’s son; he, filled with wrath
Against the King, with deadly pestilence
The camp afflicted,—and the people died,—
For Chryses’ sake, his priest, whom Atreus’ son
With scorn dismiss’d, when to the Grecian ships
He came, his captive daughter to redeem,
With costly ransom charg’d; and in his hand
The sacred fillet of his God he bore,
And golden staff; to all he sued, but chief
To Atreus’ sons, twin captains of the host:
“Ye sons of Atreus, and ye well-greav’d Greeks,
May the great Gods, who on Olympus dwell,
Grant you yon hostile city to destroy,
And home return in safety; but my child
Restore, I pray; her proffer’d ransom take,
And in his priest, the Lord of Light revere.” (…)

The Iliad is an ancient Greek epic poem in dactylic hexameter, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy (Ilium) by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles. Although the story covers only a few weeks in the final year of the war, the Iliad mentions or alludes to many of the Greek legends about the siege; the earlier events, such as the gathering of warriors for the siege, the cause of the war, and related concerns tend to appear near the beginning. Then the epic narrative takes up events prophesied for the future, such as Achilles’ looming death and the sack of Troy, prefigured and alluded to more and more vividly, so that when it reaches an end, the poem has told a more or less complete tale of the Trojan War. The Iliad is paired with something of a sequel, the Odyssey, also attributed to Homer. Along with the Odyssey, the Iliad is among the oldest extant works of Western literature, and its written version is usually dated to around the eighth century BC. Recent statistical modelling based on language evolution has found it to date to 760–710 BC. In the modern vulgate (the standard accepted version), the Iliad contains 15,693 lines; it is written in Homeric Greek, a literary amalgam of Ionic Greek and other dialects.

: 2020
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