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The Iliad Background Information
Transcript of The Iliad Background Information
Background Information What's up with The Illiad? The Iliad and its sequel, The Odyssey, are the oldest epic poems in western literature. The Iliad focuses on year nine of the ten-year Trojan War between the Greeks and the Trojans (The Odyssey is about one soldier's homecoming after the war). Epic Qualities The Iliad was originally intended to be heard, not read because many people were illiterate.
Whether or not Homer was a real man is up for debate. People believed that he lived around the 8th century B.C. This story takes place several hundred years before the time when Homer lived (about 1400-1200 B.C.).
Scholars are not sure when it was first written down, but some of what is depicted in The Iliad and the Odyssey really happened.
Archeologist have discovered that ancient Troy did exist (in modern-day Turkey) and that a Trojan War did take place.
The Iliad uses a great deal of repetition and formulaic phrasing - largely as memory aids in the telling of this lengthy poem. Oh, my gods! The original audience of The Iliad would have understood the prophecy that one day Thetis, a sea nymph, would give birth to a son,who, when grown, would be greater than his father. Because of this, even though Zeus wanted to be with Thetis, he arranged for her to marry Peleus. The marriage of Thetis and Peleus was celebrated with a wedding feast, attended by all the gods except for one. Eris, goddess of discord, had not been invited. Feeling snubbed, she showed up with a golden apple on which was inscribed "For the fairest." She rolled it in front of the guests. It was said that the goddesses Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite quarreled over which one should receive the prize. Zeus decreed that the question of which goddess should get the apple would be left to a mortal. A shepherd boy, Paris, already known for his own good looks, was chosen. (No one knew that he was a prince and son of Priam, King of Troy)
Each of the goddesses offered Paris a bribe. It's all your fault Paris! Hera said she would make him a wealthy ruler over all Asia and Europe. Athena offered Paris an army and invincibility in war. Aphrodite, though, offered him the most beautiful woman in the world. Paris chose the most beautiful woman, and Aphrodite guided him to Sparta. For nine days, Paris received the hospitality of Menelaus. On the tenth day, Menelaus had to travel to Crete. While Menelaus was away, his wife Helen was seduced by Paris. Helen abandoned her daughter Hermione, then nine years old, to leave with Paris. She and Paris, or Paris alone, filled a ship with treasures from Sparta, and they fled to Troy. Before Helen had married Menelaus, the kings and princes from all over the region had sought to marry her. her beauty was unsurpassed. Helen's father, King Tyndareus, worried that if Helen chose one of the suitors, the others might start a war. Odysseus promised to tell Tyndareus how to prevent strife on the condition that Tyndareus help Odysseus win the hand of Tyndareus' niece, Penelope. Odysseus then proposed what is known as the Oath of Tyndareus. All the suitors had to pledge to support whomever among them Helen chose. So it was that when Helen was taken away by Paris, the kings and princes of the region were forced to form a coalition to attack Troy. Greek and Homeric Values Respect or esteem from one's fellow aristocrats (for gods, the respect from mortals and the other gods). Most action was undertaken either to achieve or maintain this esteem or honor. Honor shame A warrior wanted to avoid shame or loss of respect. It also conveys a sense of honor that deters people from breaking the unwritten laws of the clan. glory glory glory glory Most often obtained in war, or in eloquent speaking. EXCELLENCE: MOST OFTEN AN EXHIBITION OF A HERO'S VALOR STRENGTH AND SKILL IN BATTLE