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Suggested Essay Topics

Book One
1. Compare the actions of Achilleus to those of Agamemnon in this chapter. What do these actions tell you about each of the characters?

2. Examine the role of women in this chapter. How are the women treated? How do they effect the action? Is the role of the goddesses different from that of the mortals?

Book Two
1. Discuss the various ways that the gods accomplish their purposes with men in this book. Are these methods always successful? What does this say about the ultimate power of the gods in this culture?

2. Discuss the warriors’ attitude toward the battle. How does it change throughout this book? Which characters sway their opinions, and what methods are used to convince them?

Book Three
1. Discuss Paris’ role in the Trojan conflict. What kind of man is he? Why is Helen unhappy in his presence?

2. Describe Helen and her role. What does she represent, and why is it worth fighting a ten year war over?

Books Four and Five
1. Discuss what Pandaros had to gain by breaking the truce. What elements of the culture lead him to give in to Athene’s suggestion?

2. Compare and contrast Diomedes and Achilleus as heroes. Use specific instances from the text to support your claims.

Book Six
1. Compare Hektor’s attitude and behavior to that of Paris, especially their desires for the fate of Troy and looming destruction.

2. Discuss the ways in which Hektor serves as a symbol for the value of home and family in the epic and how this contrasts with the approach of Agamemnon.

Book Seven
1. Compare the speeches that Nestor offers to the Achaians. What is similar among them about the language he uses? How are they different? What effect do they have on the warriors? How would you define Nestor’s role?

2. Discuss the different ways the gods intervene in the lliad to shape the actions of mortals. In what form do they appear? Are they recognized? Is there advice always taken?

Book Eight
1. Explore the many images of birds in the Iliad and their significance to the narrative. How much faith do the Trojans and Achaians have in omens?

2. How much control does Zeus have over the immortals? How much control does he have over the actions of mortals? What is the relationship of fate to the gods?

Book Nine
1. Agamemnon and Achilleus have been involved in their quarrel now since the beginning of the Iliad. Compare and contrast each man’s response to the situation as events unfold.

2. How is Diomedes’ character defined in this chapter? How does he function as a foil to Achilleus?

Book Ten
1. Compare and contrast Dolon and Diomedes. Both men are spies for their armies. What are their motives? How do these motives affect their actions?

2. Agamemnon is distressed at the number of Trojan fires burning outside the Achaian wall. Explore the symbol of fire here and elsewhere in the Iliad. What are fire’s immediate dangers? What do these fires foreshadow?

Book Eleven
1. Compare the nature and temperament of Patroklos to that of his companion, Achilleus. How does each man react to the Achaian difficulty in battle? What is each man’s reaction to advice?

2. Discuss how Achilleus has become unable to act due to his pride.

Books Twelve and Thirteen
1. Discuss the meaning of the omens in Books 12 and 13. What effect do they have on the decisions made on the field? How are they similar to other omens in the Iliad?

2. Describe the role of Poulydamas in the epic. Who among the Achaians plays a similar role? How are they treated by their respective leaders?

Books Fourteen and Fifteen
1. Examine the power of Zeus as seen in these chapters. What is he capable of controlling? What is he powerless to control? What are his weaknesses? What other examples in the Iliad support your claims?

2. Compare Agamemnon’s leadership role to Hektor’s in this section.

Books Sixteen and Seventeen
1. Trace the effects of Achilleus’ decision to send Patroklos out onto the battlefield in his armor. What does he seek to gain by doing so? How does this incident illuminate his fatal flaw? What events are directly...

(The entire section is 1,080 words.)