History of the Iliad and the Trojan War

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Kelly Macquire
published on 20 February 2022

The Iliad covers not the entire Trojan War, but begins in the midst of events in the final year of battle, after nine years of siege, and only spans 52 days. By the time The Iliad was written down in the eighth century BCE by the epic poet Homer, whom we know not a lot about other than the fact that he lived around the time of 750 BCE, and it would have already been a familiar tale to the Greeks since the tale was part of a long and rich oral history, meaning it was spoken aloud and accompanied by music. Its history in oral tradition is clear through the use and repetition of epithets like swift-footed Achilles and clever Odysseus, introductory phrases and fighting descriptions common to oral histories.

It seems that Homer wasn’t concerned with the catalyst for the Trojan War, nor the final days and the victory of the Achaeans which the audience would have already been familiar with, but the universal truths of human mortality, war, honour and betrayal, pain and pathos, love and hatred and how the lives of the characters in the story are buffeted by the winds of fate. The Iliad and the Odyssey may have once been a part of what is known as the Epic Cycle, which was a bunch of different stories that covered the period from the creation of the universe, or cosmogony, to the Trojan War and Odysseus’ long voyage home.

The Trojan War was a ten-year-long conflict fought between a coalition of Greeks known as the Achaeans, which is how Homer called the Mycenaean Greeks, against the Trojans who lived in the city of Troy and it was sparked by Paris (a Trojan prince), abducting Helen, the wife of Menelaus, King of Sparta. The Iliad begins by invoking the muse to tell the story of the rage of Achilles, and that is pretty much what the entire Iliad is about.

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0:00​ Introduction
1:00 What is the Iliad?
4:26 Lead up to the Trojan War
8:10 Summary of The Iliad
14:43 After the End of the Iliad
16:06 Did the Trojan War Actually Happen?
18:36 Outro

The Iliad https://www.worldhistory.org/iliad/
Troy https://www.worldhistory.org/troy/
Achilles https://www.worldhistory.org/achilles/
Greek Mythology https://www.worldhistory.org/Greek_Mythology/
Mycenaean Civilization https://www.worldhistory.org/Mycenaean_Civilization/
Menelaus https://www.worldhistory.org/Menelaus/
Ancient Greek Literature https://www.worldhistory.org/Greek_Literature/
Helen of Troy https://www.worldhistory.org/Helen_of_Troy/
Bronze Age Aegean https://www.worldhistory.org/Bronze_Age_Aegean/
Agamemnon https://www.worldhistory.org/Agamemnon_(Person)/

Ares the God of War in Greek Mythology https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RaGHa0G41VA
The 12 Olympians: The Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Greek Mythology https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3k4w_yNlE1g
Ancient Greek Pottery: History, Development and Designs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lWyqbYITQw
Ancient Greek Tragedy: History, Playwrights and Performances https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZwReRPVih-Q
The Greek God Apollo: The Myths of the Olympian God of Music, Medicine, the Sun and Archery https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nntvIYtSY78

You can find all attribution and credits for images, animations, graphics and music here - https://worldhistory.typehut.com/history-of-the-iliad-and-the-trojan-war-images-and-attributions-8284

The music used in this recording is the intellectual copyright of Michael Levy, a prolific composer for the recreated lyres of antiquity, and used with the creator's permission. Michael Levy's music is available to stream at all the major digital music platforms. Find out more on:

ArchaiOptix - own work
CC BY NC SA 4.0 - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/deed.en

Based on work by Henri Paul Motte // users: Sridhar1000 / Tetraktys
CC BY SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/

World History Encyclopedia

#theiliad #trojanwar #iliadsummary

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About the Author

Kelly Macquire
Kelly is a graduate from Monash University who has completed her BA (Honours) in Ancient History and Archaeology, focussing on iconography and status in Pylos burials. She has a passion for mythology and the Aegean Bronze Age.

Cite This Work

APA Style

Macquire, K. (2022, February 20). History of the Iliad and the Trojan War. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.worldhistory.org/video/2719/history-of-the-iliad-and-the-trojan-war/

Chicago Style

Macquire, Kelly. "History of the Iliad and the Trojan War." World History Encyclopedia. Last modified February 20, 2022. https://www.worldhistory.org/video/2719/history-of-the-iliad-and-the-trojan-war/.

MLA Style

Macquire, Kelly. "History of the Iliad and the Trojan War." World History Encyclopedia. World History Encyclopedia, 20 Feb 2022. Web. 05 Feb 2023.