The Iliad/Book 1

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Achilles and Agamemnon Pompei Mosaic

Book One of the Iliad opens with the invocation of the muse, asking her to help record the causes and repercussions of the rage of Achilles. Agamemnon, leader of the Achaeans, has taken the daughter of Chryses, a priest of Apollo, and refused the priest's ransom. Chryses prays to Apollo for aid, and the god responds by sending a plague of arrows onto the Achaean army. Calchas, a seer, predicts that Apollo will not relent until the priest's daughter is returned without ransom, and with one hundred bulls as an apologetic sacrifice to Apollo.

Agamemnon, angered at the necessary loss of his prize (the girl Chryseis), demands other prizes as repayment. Achilles rages against Agamemnon's greed, and the two argue until Achilles draws his sword. Athena, speeded by Hera, intervenes, asking Achilles to hold his peace with Agamemnon. Achilles takes heed of Athena’s words, and does not strike Agamemnon with the sword. The two continue to battle with words for some time.

Agamemnon then agrees to return Chryseis, but, still angry with Achilles, orders two men to seize his prized woman, Briseis. Achilles mourns the loss of Briseis, and his mother, Thetis, hears his weeping from her home in the depths of the ocean. After hearing her son’s plight, Thetis promises to ask Zeus to favor the Trojan cause as Achilles’ revenge on Agamemnon. Thetis agrees.

Meanwhile, Chryses’ daughter is returned, and the sacrifice is made to Apollo. Thetis journeys to Olympus and kneels before Zeus to ask his favor on her son and his wishes. Zeus nods his head in pact with Thetis. Hera, the sister and wife of Zeus, argues with Zeus about his pact with Thetis, and Zeus threatens her in return. Hera’s son Hephaestus begs his mother to work her way back into favor with Zeus so that there will be no anger on Olympus. Hera listens to her son, and lies beside Zeus in his bed after feasting with the other gods and goddesses.

Major Characters


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  • Lucas, Gerald R. (2000). "Homer's Iliad". G. R. Lucas. Retrieved 1 August 2021.