Homework Help

How would you summarize the epic poem "The Illiad" and explain its significance?be sure...

user profile pic

bowser | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 19, 2009 at 3:12 AM via web

dislike 0 like

How would you summarize the epic poem "The Illiad" and explain its significance?

be sure to include textual knowledge so that i could have a better understanding.

3 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

kponeil | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 20, 2009 at 6:49 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 1 like
I think a lot of people confuse the main theme of this epic. It is not a tale about the Trojan Warbut rather a tale about the wrath of Achilles. The epic begins with his wrath and ends after his wrath is over. Essentially his wrath ends after he kills the mighty Trojan warrior Hektor. This epic laid the foundations for many epics to come. It invoces a muse(godess of inspiration) to help the poet tell the story, it begins in medias res(in the middle of things), contains supernatural machinery, is told in elevated language, and describes characters who are larger than life. This epic has influenced authors throughout history and the tales of the Trojan and Greek warriors become important characters to later literature. Careful not to confuse the main theme of this epic. It is not a tale about the Trojan War but rather a tale about the wrath of Achilles. The epic begins with his wrath and ends after his wrath is over. Essentially his wrath ends after he kills the mighty Trojan warrior Hektor. This epic laid the foundations for many epics to come. It invokes a muse (goddess of inspiration) to help the poet tell the story, it begins in medias res(in the middle of things), it contains supernatural machinery, it is told in elevated language, and it describes characters who are larger than life. This epic has influenced authors throughout history and the tales of the Trojan and Greek warriors become important characters in later literature. For example, Achilles appears again in works like the Odyssey, Aeneid, and Dante's Infernowhile Agamemnon becomes an important character in Greek tragedy. The characters and their stories also become important to Western culture. Helen of Troy becomes a worldwide symbol for beauty while "Achilles' heel" is used to describe an individual's weakness. These, of course, are just a few small examples of the poem's far reaching influence. To sum up how influential this epic has been, the great Roman Empire borrowed a character (Aeneas) from this story and made him the protaginist for their own national epic: Virgil's Aeneid.

 

user profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 19, 2009 at 3:22 AM (Answer #2)

dislike 0 like

In terms of its plot, the Iliad is fairly simple.  It is the story of the Achaians (Greeks) and their war against the Trojans.  It looks at the causes of the war and at the way the war went.

But the plot is not what is truly important about this poem.  Instead, its greatness is in its exploration of many important themes.  You can follow the link for a full listing of them, but some of the more important ones are the nature of heroism and of great men, honor, and love.

The Iliad is important in that it is seen as the beginning of western literature -- a story whose influence can still be seen in our literature and language down to the present.

user profile pic

parama9000 | TA , Grade 11 | Valedictorian

Posted April 25, 2014 at 10:39 AM (Answer #3)

dislike 0 like

The Illiad tells about the story of the infamous Trojan Horse war.

Its significance-it has impacted many writers and works of literature and is possibly responsible for the proliferation of Greek literature-up till today. 

Phrases such as "Achilles heel" have also came out as a result of the Illiad.

It can be considered to be a classic, one that explores the greatness of that war.

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes