Quiz: The Trojan War and the Iliad
About when did the blind poet Homer compose his epic tale of the Trojan War?
- The Trojan war is roughly dated to 1200 BC.
Achilles, the hero of the Iliad, was a demigod—his father, King Peleus was a mortal man, while his mother, Thetis, was a sea nymph. Thetis knew that her son would die if he went to Troy. How did she try and protect him?
- Thetis sent Achilles to Skyros. Odysseus found him there and persuaded him to join the war on Troy.
According to Homer, how long did the Trojan War last?
- The Iliad takes place in the ninth year of the war.
In 1871 Heinrich Schliemann found what is now generally accepted as the remains of Troy. Where is the site of ancient Troy?
- Schleimann used clues from Homer's text to find the likely site of ancient Troy. Subsequent excavations revealed that nine successive cities existed on the site, dating from the neolithic to Roman eras.
What is the final scene of the Iliad?
- The sequel to the Iliad, the Odyssey, takes place a decade later and briefly summarizes the fall of Troy. Homer's audience would have been familiar with the stories of the death of Achilles and the Trojan horse.
The Iliad opens with the lines:
Sing, goddess, of the anger of Achilles, son of Peleus, the accursed anger which brought uncounted anguish on the Achaeans [Greeks]What was Achilles so angry about?
- Agamemnon was forced to give up his captive, Chryseis, after her father, a priest, entreated the god Apollo to punish the Greeks. Apollo sent a plague among the Greeks until Chryseis was released. Agamemnon took Briseis to replace her. Achilles was so mad at Agamemnon that he withdrew himself and his troops from the fighting.
The event that sparked the Trojan War was the abduction of Helen, revered as the most beautiful woman in the world. Helen was the wife of Greek King Menelaus, until Paris, a Trojan prince, made off with her. Why did Paris do something so rash?
- In most versions of the story, Helen, the daughter of Leda and Zeus, went with Paris willingly. Unfortunately for Paris (and Troy), her foster father had demanded all her suitors to take an oath to defend the rights of the man she married. Thus Menelaus was able to muster a huge army to attack Troy. Even worse, Hera and Athena were quite angry at Paris for choosing Aphrodite over them and aided the Greeks in retaliation.
Achilles slays Hector and refuses to return his body to the Trojans, instead dragging it around the city behind his chariot. Achilles relents after King Priam of Troy comes to beg Achilles for the body of his son. Why does Achilles give up the body of Hector?
- Achilles is moved by pity when he thinks of his own father mourning him.
The Greeks fare very poorly against the Trojans and are almost defeated before Achilles decides to fight again. What changes Achilles's mind?
- Achilles is mad with grief after the death of Patroclus and is determined to slay Hector, even though his mother warns him his death will follow Hector's.
The greatest warriors of the Greeks were Diomedes, Ajax, and Achilles. Who was the greatest warrior of the Trojans?
- Hector is the great hero of the Trojans. Paris is his younger brother and Astynax is his infant son. Hector has been one of the most beloved characters in the Iliad for centuries, his kind and noble character a contrast to rash and selfish Achilles.
Why does Thetis bring Achilles armor crafted by Hephaestus?