Facts in Iliad

Facts Examples in Iliad:

Book I 5

"god of the silver bow..."   (Book I)

This epithet is a nickname for the god Apollo, who was often depicted carrying a bow and arrow.

"Argives..."   (Book I)

This noun is another name for the Greek forces. The word Argives derives from the ancient city of Argos.

"Priam..."   (Book I)

These are the names of the kings, respectively, of the Trojans and the Greeks. Menelaus was married to Helen before Paris's abduction of her, and Priam is Paris's father.

"Olympus..."   (Book I)

Olympus is the dwelling place of the gods according to Greek mythology. It should not be interpreted as the Greek concept of “heaven”; rather, it was a place of perfection, above the earth's physical mountains where the gods held court and no mortal was allowed.

"Trojans..."   (Book I)

The citizens of Troy, the Trojans, inhabited an ancient city located in present-day, western Turkey, where, according to legend, the Trojan War took place

"Xanthus..."   (Book II)

The noun “Xanthus” refers to both a river in northwest Turkey and the god of that river.

" Hellespont...."   (Book II)

Hellespont is the strait which connects the Sea of Marmara in northwest Turkey to the Aegean Sea; it is more commonly known as the Dardanelles today.

"dread Orcus and of the river Styx..."   (Book II)

“Orcus” refers to the land of the dead, also known as Hades. The river Styx is the first of the five rivers the dead must endure on their way to the underworld and marks the boundary between life on earth and life in the underworld. The five rivers are Acheron (representing sorrow or woe), Cocytus (crying and lamentation; Acheron flows into Cocytus), Phlegethon (the river of fire), Lethe (forgetfulness of the world of life above) and Styx (the river on which the gods swear unbreakable oaths).

"Dardanian..."   (Book II)

The adjective “dardanian” is another name for a Trojan warrior; it is derived from Dardanus, who was a son of Jove and former king of the region where Troy lies.

"Helen..."   (Book II)

Helen was considered the most beautiful woman in the world. Her abduction by Paris (also called Alexandrus) is what sets off the Trojan War.

"Alexandrus..."   (Book III)

Also known as Paris, he is the character who takes Helen from her husband and, therefore, sets off the Trojan War.

"phalanxes..."   (Book IV)

The phalanx was the primary infantry unit in Bronze Age warfare and typically consisted of 16 ranks. The soldiers within the phalanx were equipped with lances that were about 13 feet long (in addition to their shields and short swords.) When a phalanx stayed intact it was impenetrable, but moved forward very slowly. A major benefit to this company is that horses will naturally shy away from massed humans, particularly with spears, and so the phalanx is an effective anti-cavalry weapon.

"the star that shines most brilliantly in summer..."   (Book V)

This passage is a reference to Sirius, the brightest star in the sky (also referred to as the north star).

"cubits..."   (Book VI)

A cubit is an ancient unit of measurement approximately equal to a forearm, typically falling between 18 and 21 inches.

"temple of Minerva in the acropolis..."   (Book VI)

Most ancient Greek cities contained a fortified area called an acropolis. This structure was built upon the highest point in the city. The acropolis was the center of municipal and religious life, and it usually contained a temple dedicated to an individual god or goddess (in this case, Minerva, the goddess of wisdom.)

"tripod..."   (Book VIII)

The noun “tripod” in ancient Greek culture refers to a three-legged cauldron, often used in rituals or presented as a prize.

"a leathern helmet that was lined with a strong plaiting of leathern thongs, while on the outside it was thickly studded with boar's teeth..."   (Book X)

Helmets that look like this, dating back to the Bronze Age, have been found by archaeologists in and around the region where the Iliad takes place.

"two talents..."   (Book XVIII)

A talent is supposed to have represented the value of an average man's work for nine years. The talents in this passage are presumably two talents of silver, equal to about 60 lb. of silver (or 30 lb. each), which makes their value considerable.

"the Linus-song..."   (Book XVIII)

Linus is the son of Apollo and Calliope and personifies song and singing. The "Linus-song" refers to a particular kind of dirge or song of mourning. In this context, however, his song is more likely a morning song than a dirge.

"the Pleiads, the Hyads, huge Orion, and the Bear..."   (Book XVIII)

Each name in this phrase references a constellation. We still use these names to describe certain configurations of stars.

"whom the Trojans name Astyanax..."   (Book XXII)

The name Astyanax literally means “Lord of the City” in Greek. Astyanax’s father, Hector, defends Troy, which makes Astyanax the de facto ruler of the city when Hector is not present.

"Morning Star..."   (Book XXIII)

The Greeks assumed the planet Venus was a star. Around sunrise, it is visible in the sky, hence its name.