Part IV - Tale of Troy or Iliad?
You think that you must therefore excel others in counsel; but you cannot thus claim preeminence in all things. Heaven has made one man an excellent soldier; of another it has made a dancer or a singer and player on the lyre; while yet in another Jove has implanted a wise understanding of which men reap fruit to the saving of many, and he himself knows more about it than any one ....When we think of the Trojan War, we tend to think only of Homer's Iliad, and rightly so -- except the details with which we are most familiar do not appear in Homer's account.
-- Iliad XIII, translated by Samuel Butler
The basics of The Iliad include:
When: The Iliad takes place in the tenth year of the war between the allied forces we call Greek and the Trojans. It covers about 50 days.
What: As the poem states at the beginning, it is the story of the wrath of Achilles.
Achilles isn't a randomly selected great warrior hero, though. If nothing else, it's his family that started the Trojan War because it was his parents' wedding to which the goddess Discord was not invited.
Despite the burned Alexandrian library and the Middle Ages' loss of classical scholarship, it would have been hard for us not to know the stories of Troy. About a third of all surviving Greek literary papyri are Homeric. Every Greco-Roman schoolboy learned his Homer and knew the story of the Trojan War. His auxiliary sources included drama and other poetry, from the now lost writing about the Trojan War cycle to The Aeneid of Vergil, and Ovid's Metamorphoses. One of the "cyclic" poems starts where The Iliad leaves off and the Amazons, led by Penthesilia, come in. This poem, known as Aethiopis, is believed to be the foundation for The Fall of Troy, by the 4th C A.D. poet, Quintus, referred to as Smyrnaeus. Other poems that may have provided source material are Iliupersis, by Arctinus (c 776 B.C.), and the Little Iliad, by Lesches (c 700 B.C.). The story is also told in the great Athenian dramas. Thomas J. Sienkewicz [URL= < department.monm.edu/classics/Courses/CLAS230/MythDocuments/TROYPLOT.htm>] provides a chronology of the Greek and Roman literature that covers the events:
- Euripides' Iphigenia at Aulis
- Metamorphoses XII
- Homer's Iliad
- Metamorphoses XII-XIII
- Sophocles' Philoctetes
- Sophocles' Ajax
- Aeneid II
- Metamorphoses XIII, Euripides' Trojan Women
- Euripides' Hecuba
- Aeschylus' Agamemnon, Seneca's Agamemnon
- Aeschylus' Libation Bearers, Sophocles' Electra, Euripides' Electra
- Euripides' Helen, Euripides' Iphigenia Among the Taurians
- Aeschylus' Eumenides
- Metamorphoses XIII-XIV, Aeneid III, Odyssey 9-12
- Aeneid IV-XII, Odyssey 1-8; 13-24