What is the tone and the character of the setting in Book 1 of Homer's Iliad?

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noahvox2 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Homer's Iliad takes as its setting the shore near the "high-walled" city of Troy (also known as Ilion). The epic opens at the Greek encampment on that shore ("the shore by the tumbling, crashing surf"; Ian Johnston translation). The tone is a dire and ominous one as the Greek camp has been ravaged by a terrible plague, which was caused by Agamemnon's inhospitable treatment of Apollo's priest Chryses.

The tension and desperation caused by the plague is heightened by the quarrel that ensues when Agamemnon and Achilles quarrel over the solution for the plague.

After Agamemnon angers Achilles by threatening to take Briseis from him, the setting remainsĀ "by the shore" where Achilles complains about Agamemnon's treatment of himĀ to his goddess mother, Thetis.

The setting continues at the shore as the Greeks send back Chryseis to her father Chryses, but then shifts to "the highest peak of many-ridged Olympus" as Thetis pleads with Zeus to help Achilles.

After his meeting with Thetis, "Zeus went inside his house" where he meets with the other gods. The quarrelsome tone that characterized the encounter between Agammenon and Achilles is paralleled in the ensuing argument between Zeus and Hera, as Hera questions the nature of the meeting between Zeus and Thetis. Angered at this, Zeus threatens Hera with violence.

Book 1 ends on a lightened tone, though as Hephaestus turns the gods' attention to drinking and causes them to laugh as they watch Hephaestus "bustling around".