Homer is hailed as the father of all poetry, and the Iliad survives as a masterpiece for all time. The Iliad, taking place within a three-day period of the Trojan War, tells the story of the wrath of Achilles against King Agamemnon. The battle episodes reveal the characters of the warriors, their strength and their weaknesses. These figures step out of unrecorded history as human beings, not of one era but of all eras and for all time. The earliest extant work of European literature, the Iliad is also one of the most enduring creations of Western culture. Of the author, or possibly authors, nothing is known for certain. Tradition says that Homer was a Greek of Asia Minor. Herodotus surmised that Homer lived in the eighth century b.c.e., which seems reasonable in the light of modern scholarship and archaeology. The poet drew on a large body of legend about the siege of Troy, material with which his audience was familiar and that was part of an oral tradition. Homer himself may not have transcribed the two epics attributed to him, but it is probable that he gave the poems their present shape.
The Iliad was originally intended to be recited or chanted rather than read. Its poetic style is vivid, taut, simple, direct, full of repeated epithets and elaborate visual similes. The treatment is serious and dignified throughout, and the total effect is one of grandeur. The poem has a classical...
(The entire section is 1183 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Iliad Critical Essays. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!