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Ancient Greeks through the Iliad

The Iliad is a beautiful epic story that elaborates different stories into one and it shows us the period of the Greek people and how they used to live their lives. It is a way of portraying so many aspects of their lives and therefore it counts a lot towards making sure that we of the current age understand what it means to have lived at that time. Alexander the pope translated the Iliad into English and this gives us even a more lively and comprehensible version. In this paper, I will discuss the three books which are book one, book 9, and book twenty-four.

Book one talks of how Agamemnon holds the daughter of Apollo’s priest. It also presents us with the conflict therein whereby the king Agamemnon is not willing to release the daughter of the priest even after persuasion to release her and therefore does not get the blessings of the priest (Shankman, 2009). Book 9 talks of the desire of king Agamemnon for Achilles to return to war whereby he uses his friends to persuade him. Book twenty-four is the discussion of the respect of the body of Hector which Achilles abuses as he mourns Patroclus. These books give us a view which helps us to live in a more connected social manner as well as make decisions which benefit us and the whole society. They also display the ills as well as the sufferings in the society and therefore this is what I will discuss in this paper (Shankman, 2009).

Book one presents us with the issue of the king holding the daughter of the priest Chrysies. The king is angry at the priest as he claims that the priest enjoys delivering prophecies that are evil and therefore it is because of this reason that he holds her daughter and refuses to release her for some time. Even though the king releases the daughter after some time, he still demands compensation for the evil prophecies the priest has delivered to the people. This book, therefore, helps us to understand that religion was a central part of ancient greek times and that religion was not as independent as it is today. Therefore religion was deeply ingrained within the people and the society at the time; however, it was controlled by the government or the kingship in those times.

Book 9 is a book which generally is about the king trying to persuade Achilles to get back to Achaean lines and fight by offering different and many gifts to him which are deemed important and of great wealth as he realizes and says that he better go back to his home and live a good long life than life a glamorous life for a short while. Therefore he turns down the offer of the king. In this, we see that life in the Greek times and majorly the main events and especially wars were led by the king and the king had to make sure that there was winning realized at the end of the war. The failure was what was making king Agamemnon complain and wish to make things right as well as make it possible for his side to win. If he won it would have been very happy and would have even celebrated it but with him losing he diverts his attention to stating that the war is not over and trying to persuade one of the best fighters whom he knew to make sure he wins. Therefore this is representative of the current world whereby the president of the country of the king or the leader is the one charged with the responsibility of leading the country to war even though not literally (Paley, 1866). 

In book 24 Achilles is mourning Patroclus and he keeps on abusing the body of Hector. This he does by dragging it around. Achilles is persuaded by Priam who is sent by Zeus through Iris. Priam sleeps at Achilles’s place and at midnight he is reminded that he should not sleep at the enemy’s place and therefore he gets out of the compound with the body of Hector. When the people especially the women see the body of Hector they cannot stop and for nine days his body is prepared for a funeral. This is an indication of how different people deal with grief and loss and therefore see how hector was allowed by most people even though he had enemies. Therefore from this book, we learn that life is full of life and death as well as misery. Hector is loved but he dies and he is properly prepared for death by his people. Therefore this shows how important it is for us to learn that mourning has always existed and that it follows in this order that even nowadays we mourn when those closest to us die and when we are left in a very bad state which we have to deal with time (Gagarin, 1987).

These three books display the life of the ancient Greeks and it is to some point a reflection of our current society and our social life. Therefore this makes us reflect not only on the issue of our social life but also about the issue of leadership and religion as portrayed in the different books of the epic discussed above. We get to learn a lot from this epic which is of essential importance to our current life as well as relate it with the past of the Greeks.


Gagarin, M. (1987). Morality in Homer. Classical philology, 82(4), 285-306.Paley, F. A. (1866). The Iliad of Homer, with English notes (Vol. 1). Whittaker.

Shankman, S. (Ed.). (2009). The Iliad of Homer: Translated by Alexander Pope (Vol. 1). Wipf and Stock Publishers.