is attributed to Homer
, although we don't know for sure who wrote it. It is thought to describe characters and legends traditionally dated to the 12th century B.C., passed down orally, and then written by a poet or bard identified as Homer who lived during the Archaic Age of Greece
in the 8th century B.C. Here are major characters, both mortal and immortal, from The Iliad
- Achilles - The hero and subject of the epic poem. Achilles brought his troops known as the Myrmidons, was insulted by the leader of the Achaean (Greek) forces, and was sitting out the war until his close friend Patroclus was killed. Achilles then went after the man he blamed for the death, Hector, the prince of Troy.
- Aeneas - The nephew of King Priam of Troy, a son of Anchises and the goddess Aphrodite. He shows up with a much bigger part in the epic poem The Aeneid, by Vergil (Virgil).
- Agamemnon - Leader of the Achaean (Greek) forces and the brother-in-law of the beautiful Helen, formerly of Sparta, now of Troy. He makes some hard choices, like sacrificing his daughter Iphigenia at Aulis to provide wind for his ships' sails.
- Ajax - There are two men of this name, the greater and the lesser. The greater is the son of Telamon, who is also father of the best Greek bowman, Teucer. After Achilles' death, Ajax wants his armor thinking he deserves it as the second greatest of the Greek warriors.
- (Oilean) Ajax is the leader of the Locrians; later, he rapes Cassandra, prophetess daughter of Hecuba and Priam.
- Andromache - The wife of Trojan Prince Hector and the mother of a young son named Astyanax who features in touching scenes. Later Andromache becomes Neoptolemus' war-bride.
- Aphrodite - The love goddess who won the apple of strife that started things in motion. She helps her favorites in the fray, is injured, and discusses matters with Helen.
- Apollo - The son of Leto and Zeus and the brother of Artemis. He's on the Trojan side and sends plague arrows to the Greeks.
- Ares - The war god, Ares was on the side of the Trojans, fighting disguised as Stentor.
- Artemis - The daughter of Leto and Zeus and the sister of Apollo. She, too, is on the side of the Trojans.
- Athena - The daughter of Zeus, a powerful goddess of war strategy; for the Greeks during the Trojan War.
- Briseis - The source of ill-feeling between Agamemnon and Achilles, Briseis had been awarded to Achilles as a war-prize, but then Agamemnon wanted her because he had been obliged to give up his.
- Calchas - The seer who told Agamemnon that he had angered the gods and must fix things by returning Chriseis to her father. When Agamemnon obliged, he insisted that he receive Achilles' prize Briseis instead.
- Diomedes - An Argive leader on the Greek side; wounds Aeneas and Aphrodite; routs the Trojans until the son of Lycaon (Pandarus) hits him with an arrow.
- Hades - Is in charge of the Underworld and hated by mortals.
- Hector - The lead Trojan prince whom Achilles kills. His corpse is dragged around in the sand (but by grace of gods without destruction) for days while Achilles vents his grief and anger.
- Hecuba - Hecuba is the Trojan matriarch, mother of Hector and Paris, among others, and wife of King Priam.
- Helen - The face that launched a thousand ships.
- Hephaestus - He is the blacksmith of the gods, who, in return for an old favor from the nymphs, makes a wonderful shield for the nymph Thetis' son, Achilles.
- Hera - Hera hates the Trojans and tries to harm them by getting around her husband, Zeus.
- Hermes - Hermes isn't yet the messenger god in the Iliad, but he is sent to help Priam get to Achilles to ask for the corpse of his beloved son Hector.
- Iris - Iris is the messenger goddess of the Iliad.
- Menelaus - Helen's aggrieved husband and the brother of Agamemnon.
- Nestor - An old and wise king of Pylos on the Achaean side in the Trojan War.
- Odysseus - The lord of Ithaca who tries to persuade Achilles to re-join the fray; he plays a much larger part in The Odyssey.
- Paris - Aka Alexander; son of Priam who plays a cowardly role in The Iliad and is helped by the Trojans' gods.
- Patroclus - Beloved friend of Achilles who borrows his armor to go lead the Myrmidons against the Trojans. He is killed in battle, which results in Achilles re-joining the fray to kill Hector.
- Phoenix - A tutor of Achilles who tries to persuade him to re-join the battle.
- Poseidon - Sea god who supports the Greeks, basically.
- Priam - Another old and wise king, but this time, of the Trojans. He fathered 50 sons, among whom are Hector and Paris.
- Sarpedon - The Trojans' most important ally; killed by Patroclus.
- Thetis - Nymph mother of Achilles who asks Hephaestus to make her son a shield.
- Xanthus - A river near Troy known to mortals as Scamander. Favors the Trojans.
- Zeus - King of the gods who tries to maintain neutrality in order to make sure fate isn't thwarted; father of Trojan ally Sarpedon.