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Plot in Iliad

Plot Examples in Iliad:

Book I

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"I shall have trouble if you set me quarrelling with Juno..."   (Book I)

Notice this passage is an example of the fickle and immature nature of the gods, who are always squabbling among themselves and meddling in human affairs. Many of the gods and goddesses take sides in the Trojan War, often opposing one another, which causes strife on Olympus that mirrors that of the battle. Zeus is like the father of an unruly family and is unwilling to create more discord among a group of willful, powerful, and childish gods. He is reluctant to anger Juno (Hera,) especially because he has had frequent affairs with mortals that produced children, both of which Hera is extremely jealous and brings frequent torment upon.

"you bore me doomed to live but for a little season..."   (Book I)

This is an instance of foreshadowing. Achilles knows that he is predestined to live a short life because he chose to join the war over a long and uneventful life at home with his aging father. Here Achilles pleads with his mother Thetis to appeal to Zeus on his behalf. He asks that Zeus may grant him glory in what little time he has on the earth, and he speaks of the wrongs Agamemnon has committed against him.

"the anger of Achilles..."   (Book I)

Achilles's anger at Agamemnon is the main conflict in the poem and provides the framework for the events to come. Achilles's wounded pride is what keeps him in a rage, but it also makes him refuse to fight, leading to terrible consequences for the rest of the Achaean army. Achilles embodies one of the main themes of the Iliad: the foolish and self-destructive nature of pride.

"the counsels of Jove..."   (Book I)

In some translations of Homer's Iliad, this line is translated "the will of Zeus." (This translation uses the Roman names for its characters.) Here it is shown that the entire plot of the Iliad comes to pass because of Zeus's will.

"The quarrel..."   (Book I)

Generally, the first four hundred and fifty lines or so of Homer's Iliad are considered to be just that: "the quarrel." The direct consequences are also dealt with in this important exposition section of the epic.

"Patroclus..."   (Book I)

Patroclus is Achilles's favorite companion. Later, Patroclus, fighting in Achilles's armor, is killed by Hector, and Patroclus's death brings Achilles back into the fight against the Trojans.

"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.

"Minerva and Juno muttered their discontent as they sat side by side hatching mischief for the Trojans...."   (Book IV)

Each Olympian god or goddess is allied with either the Achaean forces or the Trojan forces. Minerva (Athena) and Juno are allied with the Achaeans due to an event that took place before the war in which the Trojan prince Paris judged Venus to be more beautiful than both goddesses.

"if a man's hour is come, be he brave or be he coward, there is no escape for him when he has once been born..."   (Book VI)

This statement is a reference to the Greek idea that no human being can avoid fate and that all lives are predetermined from birth. Hector and Achilles both know their fate before they go to war, but they are still allowed to exercise their own free will, creating significant conflict in the plot of the story.

"Why, pray, must the Argives needs fight the Trojans?..."   (Book IX)

Achilles has withdrawn from the battle and taken his army with him. Their absence has caused Agamemnon's own forces to start losing against the Trojans, and an envoy is sent to convince Achilles to return to the battle. The underlying plot of the Iliad is the efforts to win Achilles back to the side of the Achaeans because only his presence can grant them victory.

"Take me alive; I will ransom myself;..."   (Book X)

The plea for ransom comes up approximately a dozen times in the Iliad. This points to the fact that Troy was an extremely wealthy city and, therefore, would be able to pay a ransom to get back its prisoners of war. The poet-narrator seems to state that because of their great wealth, the Trojans believe that money can buy almost anything and that the civilized exchange of prisoners is an option in war. Unfortunately for the Trojans, the Achaeans do not subscribe to this idea.

"the city was sacked in the tenth year,..."   (Book XII)

This passage establishes context for the plotline of the Iliad. The story takes place within the final year of the Trojan War, which was a ten year conflict ending with the fall of Troy.

"He knew not what he was asking, nor that he was suing for his own destruction..."   (Book XVI)

This passage is an important instance of foreshadowing in the Iliad. Patroclus asks to borrow Achilles’s armor and lead his men into battle while Achilles continues to hold out against Agamemnon, thinking that the Trojan forces may mistake him for Achilles and fall back in fear. The Trojans do mistake him for Achilles, and it is this that leads to Hector’s killing him and subsequently incurring the wrath of Achilles and his rejoining the Achaean forces in the war.

"the end of Hector also was near..."   (Book XVI)

The hero of the Trojans, Hector, is faced with his imminent death. Not even Zeus's helmet can save him, though the god takes it from where it rolled away from Patroclus in the action of battle and gifts it to him in an attempt to give him an advantage.

"it is your doom to fall by the hand of a man and of a god..."   (Book XIX)

This references the death of Achilles; he will be killed by Paris, who will be assisted by the god Apollo.

"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.

"I will not give up the mare, and he that will fight me for her, let him come on.”..."   (Book XXIII)

Notice that the situation here is very similar to the the one at the beginning of the Iliad when Agamemnon tactlessly takes Briseis, Achilles's war prize, away from him. Though that event led to great conflict and strife, this argument is resolved quickly, showing that Achilles values peaceful resolution more than he did at the beginning of the poem.

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