Places: Iliad

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First transcribed: c. 750 b.c.e. (English translation, 1611)

Type of work: Poetry

Type of plot: Epic

Time of work: Antiquity

Asterisk denotes entries on real places.

Places Discussed*Troy (Ilios)

*Troy Iliad (Ilios). Ancient city on the plain of Troas, or Troad, on the eastern shore of the Aegean Sea in what is now Turkey. Homer knew the area so well it is assumed that he had visited it. However, the Troy about which he wrote was a city that existed perhaps four centuries before his own time.

Legend has it that Apollo and Poseidon constructed Troy, and the Greek divinities had much to do with destroying it, first providing the occasion for the war, then prolonging it by squabbling among themselves, and finally deciding the city’s fate. However, historians believe that the cause of the war may have been the Greeks’ wish to stop the Trojans from collecting tolls from land travelers and from ships moving in or out of the Dardanelles (Hellespont).

*Pergamos

*Pergamos (PUR-gah-muhs). Troy’s walled citadel, or acropolis. The temple of Athena at its summit is the Trojans’ place of worship. King Priam’s palace, which is described in book 6, is also there. It serves not only as the residence of the royal family but also as the city’s center of government. Whenever Hector goes out to battle or returns home, as he does in book 6, he uses the Scaean Gate on the west side of the Pergamos. His wife Andromache often watches him from the wall above. The city cannot be destroyed as long as the Pergamos remains in the hands of the Trojans; when it falls, the city will be destroyed.

Ship station

Ship station. Area west of the city of Troy where the Greeks beach their ships. In book 15, Hector leads the Trojans through the Greek defenses and sets fire to one of the ships, leading the Greeks to fear that they will be defeated.

Greek camp

Greek camp. Area between the ships and the battlefield where the Greeks gather to rest, feast, argue, and discuss strategy. In book 7, Nestor persuades the Greeks to fortify their camp by building a wall with watchtowers and strong gates and by digging a moat just beyond it.

*Mount Ida

*Mount Ida. Mountain southeast of Troy where the great god Zeus often stations himself so that he can watch the conflict below, periodically hurling thunderbolts to signal his disapproval. Zeus is often found near his altar on the peak Gargaron. In book 14, Zeus’s wife Hera visits Mount Ida to charm and distract him so he will not be aware of the Greeks’ victories below.

*Mount Olympus

*Mount Olympus. Mountain that is the highest point in Greece, located near the western shore of the Aegean Sea that is in legend the home of the gods. Homer’s epic shows the gods meeting there, observing events below, and often quarrelling bitterly. Sometimes they leave their Mount Olympus homes, disguise themselves as mortals, and take part in battles. When they are wounded–as Aphrodite and Ares are in book 5, they return to Olympus to be made whole.

Hades

Hades (hay-deez). Legendary underworld, ruled by Hades, in which the spirits of the dead dwell forever and the guilty are punished. In book 23, the ghost of Patrocles appears to his friend Achilles, asking that his body be placed on a funeral pyre so that he can complete his journey into Hades, instead of wandering with the other unburied spirits outside the gates.

BibliographyBrann, Eva. Homeric Moments: Clues to Delight in Reading the “Odyssey” and the “Iliad.” Philadelphia: Paul Dry, 2002. A close and witty exploration of the experience of reading Homer.Dalby, Andrew. Rediscovering Homer: Inside the Origins of the Epic. New York: W. W. NOrton, 2006. Dalby explores the historical development of written poetry and examines the debate regarding the authorship of Homer’s epics.Kim, Jinyo. The Pity of Achilles: Oral Style and the Unity of the “Iliad.” Rowman and Littlefield, 2000. An argument for the unity of the Iliad that surveys recent scholarship. Bibliography.Mueller, Martin. The Iliad. Winchester, Mass.: Allen & Unwin, 1984. A comprehensive introduction to critical study of the Iliad. The information is clearly presented and detailed. Contains particularly informative sections on principles of Homeric fighting, the Homeric simile, and the Greek gods.Schein, Seth L. The Mortal Hero: An Introduction to Homer’s “Iliad.” Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984. Addressed primarily to the general reader, this book provides background to the Iliad. Discusses the function of the gods in the poem, outlines the fall of Troy and the death of Hector, and examines the heroic characterization of Achilles.Silk, Michael S. Homer, “The Iliad.” Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1987. Presents information on the religious understanding of Homeric society and summarizes the main events narrated in the poem. Discusses Achilles’ place in the center of a balanced plot structure.Vivante, Paolo. “The Iliad”: Action as Poetry. Boston: Twayne, 1990. An excellent source of background material, organized for quick reference. Includes chapters on the historical context of Homer and the Iliad, plot structure, family relationships within the poem, and characterization; and the poetic roles of fate, the gods, time, and nature. The final chapter compares the Iliad to other epics.Wright, John, ed. Essays on “The Iliad”: Selected Modern Criticism. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1978. Eight essays on various aspects of the poem.
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