Pausanias was a Greek traveler and geographer of the second-century AD, who lived in the time of Roman emperors Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, Marcus Aurelius. He is famous for his Description of Greece, a lengthy work that describes ancient Greece from his first-hand observations; this work provides crucial information for making links between classical literature and modern archaeology. Andrew Stewart assesses him as: A careful, pedestrian writer...interested not only in the grandiose or the exquisite but in unusual sights and obscure ritual. He is careless or makes unwarranted inferences, his guides or his own notes sometimes mislead him, yet his honesty is unquestionable, his value without par. Pausanias was born in 110 AD into a Greek family and was a native of Lydia. Before visiting Greece, he had been to Antioch and Jerusalem, to the banks of the River Jordan. In Egypt, he had seen the pyramids. While at the temple of Ammon, he had been shown the hymn once sent to that shrine by Pindar. In Macedonia, he appears to have seen.
Crossing over to Italy, he had seen something of the wonders of Rome. He was one of the first known to write of seeing the ruins of Troy, Alexandria Troas, Mycenae. Pausanias' Description of Greece is in each dedicated to some portion of Greece, he begins his tour in Attica, where the city of its demes dominate the discussion. Subsequent books describe Corinthia, Messenia, Achaea, Boetia and Ozolian Locris; the project is more than topographical. Pausanias digresses from the description of architectural and artistic objects to review the mythological and historical underpinnings of the society that produced them; as a Greek writing under the auspices of the Roman empire, he was in an awkward cultural space, between the glories of the Greek past he was so keen to describe and the realities of a Greece beholden to Rome as a dominating imperial force. His work bears the marks of his attempt to navigate that space and establish an identity for Roman Greece, he is not a naturalist by any means, although from time to time, he does comment on the physical realities of the Greek landscape.
He notices the pine trees on the sandy coast of Elis, the deer and the wild boars in the oak woods of Phelloe, the crows amid the giant oak trees of Alalcomenae. It is in the last section that Pausanias touches on the products of nature, such as the wild strawberries of Helicon, the date palms of Aulis, the olive oil of Tithorea, as well as the tortoises of Arcadia and the "white blackbirds" of Cyllene. Pausanias is most of Delphi, yet in the most secluded regions of Greece, he is fascinated by all kinds of depictions of deities, holy relics, many other sacred and mysterious objects. At Thebes he views the shields of those who died at the Battle of Leuctra, the ruins of the house of Pindar, the statues of Hesiod, Arion and Orpheus in the grove of the Muses on Helicon, as well as the portraits of Corinna at Tanagra and of Polybius in the cities of Arcadia. Pausanias has the instincts of an antiquary; as his modern editor, Christian Habicht, has said, In general, he prefers the old to the new, the sacred to the profane.
Some magnificent and dominating structures, such as the Stoa of King Attalus in the Athenian Agora or the Exedra of Herodes Atticus at Olympia are not mentioned. Unlike a Baedeker guide, in Periegesis Pausanias stops for a brief excursus on a point of ancient ritual or to tell an apposite myth, in a genre that would not become popular again until the early nineteenth century. In the topographical part of his work, Pausanias is fond of digressions on the wonders of nature, the signs that herald the approach of an earthquake, the phenomena of the tides, the ice-bound seas of the north, the noonday sun that at the summer solstice, casts no shadow at Syene. While he never doubts the existence of the deities and heroes, he sometimes criticizes the myths and legends relating to them, his descriptions of monuments of art are unadorned. They bear the impression of reality, their accuracy is confirmed by the extant remains, he is frank in his confessions of ignorance. When he quotes a book at second hand he takes pains to say so.
The work left faint traces in the known Greek corpus. "It was not read", Habicht relates. The only manuscripts of Pausanias are three fifteenth-century copies, full of errors and lacunae, which all appear to depend on a single manuscript that survived to be copied. Niccolò Niccoli had this archetype in Florence in 1418. At his death in 1437, it went to the library of San Marco, Florence it disappeared after 1500; until twentieth-century archaeologists concluded that Pausanias was a reliable guide to the sites they were excavating, Pausanias was la
Euripides was a tragedian of classical Athens. Along with Aeschylus and Sophocles, he is one of the three ancient Greek tragedians for whom a significant number of plays have survived; some ancient scholars attributed 95 plays to him but, according to the Suda, it was 92 at most. Of these, 18 or 19 have survived more or less complete and there are fragments, some substantial, of most of the other plays. More of his plays have survived intact than those of Aeschylus and Sophocles together because his popularity grew as theirs declined—he became, in the Hellenistic Age, a cornerstone of ancient literary education, along with Homer and Menander. Euripides is identified with theatrical innovations that have profoundly influenced drama down to modern times in the representation of traditional, mythical heroes as ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances; this new approach led him to pioneer developments that writers adapted to comedy, some of which are characteristic of romance. Yet he became "the most tragic of poets", focusing on the inner lives and motives of his characters in a way unknown.
He was "the creator of...that cage, the theatre of Shakespeare's Othello, Racine's Phèdre, of Ibsen and Strindberg," in which "...imprisoned men and women destroy each other by the intensity of their loves and hates", yet he was the literary ancestor of comic dramatists as diverse as Menander and George Bernard Shaw. Unique among writers of Ancient Athens, Euripides demonstrated sympathy towards the underrepresented members of society, his male contemporaries were shocked by the'heresies' he put into the mouths of characters, such as these words of his heroine Medea: His contemporaries associated him with Socrates as a leader of a decadent intellectualism, both of them being lampooned by comic poets such as Aristophanes. Whereas Socrates was put on trial and executed as a corrupting influence, Euripides chose a voluntary exile in old age, dying in Macedonia. Recent scholarship casts doubt on ancient biographies of Euripides. For example, it is possible that he never visited Macedonia at all, or, if he did, he might have been drawn there by King Archelaus with incentives that were offered to other artists.
Traditional accounts of the author's life are found in many commentaries and include details such as these: He was born on Salamis Island around 480 BC, with parents Cleito and Mnesarchus, a retailer who lived in a village near Athens. Upon the receipt of an oracle saying that his son was fated to win "crowns of victory", Mnesarchus insisted that the boy should train for a career in athletics. In fact the boy was destined for a career on the stage, where however he was to win only five victories, one of, after his death, he served for a short time as both torch-bearer at the rites of Apollo Zosterius. His education was not confined to athletics: he studied painting and philosophy under the masters Prodicus and Anaxagoras, he had two disastrous marriages and both his wives—Melite and Choerine —were unfaithful. He became a recluse. "There he built an impressive library and pursued daily communion with the sea and sky". He retired to the "rustic court" of King Archelaus in Macedonia, where he died in 406 BC.
However, as mentioned in the introduction, biographical details such as these should be regarded with scepticism. They are derived entirely from three unreliable sources: folklore, employed by the ancients to lend colour to the lives of celebrated authors; this biography is divided into three sections corresponding to the three kinds of sources. Euripides was the youngest in a set of three great tragedians who were contemporaries: his first play was staged thirteen years after Sophocles' debut and only three years after Aeschylus's masterpiece, the Oresteia; the identity of the threesome is neatly underscored by a patriotic account of their roles during Greece's great victory over Persia at the Battle of Salamis—Aeschylus fought there, Sophocles was just old enough to celebrate the victory in a boys' chorus and Euripides was born on the day of the battle. The apocryphal account that he composed his works in a cave on Salamis island was a late tradition and it symbolizes the isolation of an intellectual, rather ahead of his time.
Much of his life and his whole career coincided with the struggle between Athens and Sparta for hegemony in Greece but he didn't live to see the final defeat of his city. It is said that he died in Macedonia after being attacked by the Molossian hounds of King Archelaus and that his cenotaph near Piraeus was struck by lightning—signs of his unique powers, whether for good or ill. In an account by Plutarch, the catastrophic failure of the Sicilian expedition led Athenians to trade renditions of Euripides' lyrics to their enemies in return for food and drink. Plutarch is the source for the story that the victorious Spartan generals, having planned the demolition of Athens and the enslavement of its people, grew merciful after being entertained at a banquet by lyrics from Euripides' play Electra: "they felt that it would be a barbarous act to annihilate a ci
Greek mythology is the body of myths told by the ancient Greeks. These stories concern the origin and the nature of the world, the lives and activities of deities and mythological creatures, the origins and significance of the ancient Greeks' own cult and ritual practices. Modern scholars study the myths in an attempt to shed light on the religious and political institutions of ancient Greece and its civilization, to gain understanding of the nature of myth-making itself; the Greek myths were propagated in an oral-poetic tradition most by Minoan and Mycenaean singers starting in the 18th century BC. Two poems by Homer's near contemporary Hesiod, the Theogony and the Works and Days, contain accounts of the genesis of the world, the succession of divine rulers, the succession of human ages, the origin of human woes, the origin of sacrificial practices. Myths are preserved in the Homeric Hymns, in fragments of epic poems of the Epic Cycle, in lyric poems, in the works of the tragedians and comedians of the fifth century BC, in writings of scholars and poets of the Hellenistic Age, in texts from the time of the Roman Empire by writers such as Plutarch and Pausanias.
Aside from this narrative deposit in ancient Greek literature, pictorial representations of gods and mythic episodes featured prominently in ancient vase-paintings and the decoration of votive gifts and many other artifacts. Geometric designs on pottery of the eighth century BC depict scenes from the Trojan cycle as well as the adventures of Heracles. In the succeeding Archaic and Hellenistic periods and various other mythological scenes appear, supplementing the existing literary evidence. Greek mythology has had an extensive influence on the culture and literature of Western civilization and remains part of Western heritage and language. Poets and artists from ancient times to the present have derived inspiration from Greek mythology and have discovered contemporary significance and relevance in the themes. Greek mythology is known today from Greek literature and representations on visual media dating from the Geometric period from c. 900 BC to c. 800 BC onward. In fact and archaeological sources integrate, sometimes mutually supportive and sometimes in conflict.
Mythical narration plays an important role in nearly every genre of Greek literature. The only general mythographical handbook to survive from Greek antiquity was the Library of Pseudo-Apollodorus; this work attempts to reconcile the contradictory tales of the poets and provides a grand summary of traditional Greek mythology and heroic legends. Apollodorus of Athens wrote on many of these topics, his writings may have formed the basis for the collection. Among the earliest literary sources are the Iliad and the Odyssey. Other poets completed the "epic cycle", but these and lesser poems now are lost entirely. Despite their traditional name, the "Homeric Hymns" have no direct connection with Homer, they are choral hymns from the earlier part of the so-called Lyric age. Hesiod, a possible contemporary with Homer, offers in his Theogony the fullest account of the earliest Greek myths, dealing with the creation of the world. Hesiod's Works and Days, a didactic poem about farming life includes the myths of Prometheus and the Five Ages.
The poet gives advice on the best way to succeed in a dangerous world, rendered yet more dangerous by its gods. Lyrical poets took their subjects from myth, but their treatment became less narrative and more allusive. Greek lyric poets, including Pindar and Simonides, bucolic poets such as Theocritus and Bion, relate individual mythological incidents. Additionally, myth was central to classical Athenian drama; the tragic playwrights Aeschylus and Euripides took most of their plots from myths of the age of heroes and the Trojan War. Many of the great tragic stories took on their classic form in these tragedies; the comic playwright Aristophanes used myths, in The Birds and The Frogs. Historians Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus, geographers Pausanias and Strabo, who traveled throughout the Greek world and noted the stories they heard, supplied numerous local myths and legends giving little-known alternative versions. Herodotus in particular, searched the various traditions presented him and found the historical or mythological roots in the confrontation between Greece and the East.
Herodotus attempted to reconcile the blending of differing cultural concepts. The poetry of the Hellenistic and Roman ages was composed as a literary rather than cultic exercise, it contains many important details that would otherwise be lost. This category includes the works of: The Roman poets Ovid, Valerius Flaccus and Virgil with Servius's commentary; the Greek poets of the Late Antique period: Nonnus, Antoninus Liberalis, Quintus Smyrnaeus. The Greek poets of the Hellenistic period: Apollonius of Rhodes, Pseudo-Eratosthenes, Parthenius. Prose writers from the same periods who make reference to myths includ
The Ancient Greek language includes the forms of Greek used in Ancient Greece and the ancient world from around the 9th century BCE to the 6th century CE. It is roughly divided into the Archaic period, Classical period, Hellenistic period, it is succeeded by medieval Greek. Koine is regarded as a separate historical stage of its own, although in its earliest form it resembled Attic Greek and in its latest form it approaches Medieval Greek. Prior to the Koine period, Greek of the classic and earlier periods included several regional dialects. Ancient Greek was the language of Homer and of fifth-century Athenian historians and philosophers, it has contributed many words to English vocabulary and has been a standard subject of study in educational institutions of the Western world since the Renaissance. This article contains information about the Epic and Classical periods of the language. Ancient Greek was a pluricentric language, divided into many dialects; the main dialect groups are Attic and Ionic, Aeolic and Doric, many of them with several subdivisions.
Some dialects are found in standardized literary forms used in literature, while others are attested only in inscriptions. There are several historical forms. Homeric Greek is a literary form of Archaic Greek used in the epic poems, the "Iliad" and "Odyssey", in poems by other authors. Homeric Greek had significant differences in grammar and pronunciation from Classical Attic and other Classical-era dialects; the origins, early form and development of the Hellenic language family are not well understood because of a lack of contemporaneous evidence. Several theories exist about what Hellenic dialect groups may have existed between the divergence of early Greek-like speech from the common Proto-Indo-European language and the Classical period, they differ in some of the detail. The only attested dialect from this period is Mycenaean Greek, but its relationship to the historical dialects and the historical circumstances of the times imply that the overall groups existed in some form. Scholars assume that major Ancient Greek period dialect groups developed not than 1120 BCE, at the time of the Dorian invasion—and that their first appearances as precise alphabetic writing began in the 8th century BCE.
The invasion would not be "Dorian" unless the invaders had some cultural relationship to the historical Dorians. The invasion is known to have displaced population to the Attic-Ionic regions, who regarded themselves as descendants of the population displaced by or contending with the Dorians; the Greeks of this period believed there were three major divisions of all Greek people—Dorians and Ionians, each with their own defining and distinctive dialects. Allowing for their oversight of Arcadian, an obscure mountain dialect, Cypriot, far from the center of Greek scholarship, this division of people and language is quite similar to the results of modern archaeological-linguistic investigation. One standard formulation for the dialects is: West vs. non-west Greek is the strongest marked and earliest division, with non-west in subsets of Ionic-Attic and Aeolic vs. Arcadocypriot, or Aeolic and Arcado-Cypriot vs. Ionic-Attic. Non-west is called East Greek. Arcadocypriot descended more from the Mycenaean Greek of the Bronze Age.
Boeotian had come under a strong Northwest Greek influence, can in some respects be considered a transitional dialect. Thessalian had come under Northwest Greek influence, though to a lesser degree. Pamphylian Greek, spoken in a small area on the southwestern coast of Anatolia and little preserved in inscriptions, may be either a fifth major dialect group, or it is Mycenaean Greek overlaid by Doric, with a non-Greek native influence. Most of the dialect sub-groups listed above had further subdivisions equivalent to a city-state and its surrounding territory, or to an island. Doric notably had several intermediate divisions as well, into Island Doric, Southern Peloponnesus Doric, Northern Peloponnesus Doric; the Lesbian dialect was Aeolic Greek. All the groups were represented by colonies beyond Greece proper as well, these colonies developed local characteristics under the influence of settlers or neighbors speaking different Greek dialects; the dialects outside the Ionic group are known from inscriptions, notable exceptions being: fragments of the works of the poet Sappho from the island of Lesbos, in Aeolian, the poems of the Boeotian poet Pindar and other lyric poets in Doric.
After the conquests of Alexander the Great in the late 4th century BCE, a new international dialect known as Koine or Common Greek developed based on Attic Greek, but with influence from other dialects. This dialect replaced most of the older dialects, although Doric dialect has survived in the Tsakonian language, spoken in the region of modern Sparta. Doric has passed down its aorist terminations into most verbs of Demotic Greek. By about the 6th century CE, the Koine had metamorphosized into Medieval Greek. Ancient Macedonian was an Indo-European language at least related to Greek, but its exact relationship is unclear because of insufficient data: a dialect of Greek; the Macedonian dialect (or l
Thebaid (Latin poem)
The Thebaid is a Latin epic in 12 books written in dactylic hexameter by Publius Papinius Statius. The poem deals with the Theban cycle and treats the assault of the seven champions of Argos against the city of Thebes. Based on Statius' own testimony, the Thebaid was written AD c. 80–c. 92, beginning when the poet was around 35, the work is thought to have been published in 91 or 92. According to the last verse of the poem, Statius wrote the Thebaid over the course of a dozen years during the reign of Emperor Domitian, although the symmetry of the compositional period, assigning one book per year, has been taken with suspicion by scholars; the poem is divided into twelve books in imitation of Vergil's Aeneid and is composed in 9,748 hexameter verses, the standard meter of Greco-Roman epics. In the Silvae, Statius speaks of his extensive work in polishing and revising the Thebaid and his public recitations of the poem. From the epilogue it seems clear that Statius considered the Thebaid to be his magnum opus and believed that it would secure him fame for the future.
Statius's Thebaid deals with the same subject as the Thebaid—an early Greek epic of several thousand lines which survives only in brief fragments, and, attributed by some classical Greek authors to Homer. A more important source for Statius was the long epic Thebais of Antimachus of Colophon, an important poem both in the development of the Theban cycle and the evolution of Hellenistic poetry. Statius' poem shows some parallels with Stesichorus' "Thebais". Significant for Statius were the myth's many treatments in Greek drama, represented by surviving plays such as Aeschylus's Seven Against Thebes, Sophocles's Antigone, Euripides's Phoenissae and Suppliants. Other authors provided models for specific sections of the poem. On the Latin side, Statius is indebted to Vergil, a debt he acknowledges in his epilogue. Statius emulates Vergil's Odyssean and Iliadic book division, concentrating aetiological material and traveling in the first six books and focusing on battle narratives in the second six, many episodes allude to sections in the Aeneid.
Ovid's considerable influence can be traced in Statius's handling of cosmic structure, description and verse. The influence of Lucan can be felt in Statius's penchant for macabre battle sequences, discussion of tyranny, focus on nefas. Seneca's tragedies seem to be an influence in the Thebaid in Statius's portrayal of family relations, generational curses and insanity. Book 1 The Thebaid opens with a priamel in which the poet rejects several themes dealing with Theban mythology and decides to focus on the House of Oedipus, following this is a recusatio and a passage in praise of Domitian; the narrative begins with Oedipus' prayer to the chthonic gods and curse on his sons Polyneices and Eteocles who have rejected and mistreated him. The Fury Tisiphone hears Oedipus' prayer and ascends to the earth to fulfill the curse, causing strife between Eteocles and Polyneices; this is followed by a council of the gods concilium deorum at which Jupiter informs the gods of his plan to involve Thebes and Argos in a war.
Mercury is sent to the underworld to fetch the shade of Laius to drive Eteocles to war. Meanwhile Polyneices is driven by a storm to Argos and the threshold of Adrastus's palace, where he meets Tydeus, an exile from Calydon, seeking shelter, fights with him. Adrastus invites the two exiles in, feasts them, and, in fulfillment of a prophecy, offers them his daughters to marry; the book ends with Adrastus' prayer to Apollo. Book 2 The second book begins with Mercury's guidance of the shade of Laius to Thebes. Adrastus marries Polyneices to Tydeus to Deipyle in a ceremony marred by ill omens; the poet describes the necklace of Harmonia, which Argia wears to the wedding, as an object that brings its bearers bad luck and causes strife. Polyneices sends Tydeus on an embassy to Eteocles to remind him. Eteocles refuses Tydeus' request for him to give up the throne. Tydeus leaves in a rage and Eteocles sends an ambush to kill him as he returns in a mountain pass. Tydeus kills all the ambushers except Maeon.
Tydeus attaches the battle trophies—taken from the slain—to an oak tree as he prays to Minerva. Book 3 Maeon returns to Thebes, reports the slaughter to Eteocles, criticizing the tyrant's behavior, commits suicide; the Thebans go out to bury the dead. Jupiter orders Mars to go to earth to stir up war, but Venus blocks his chariot, beseeching him to prevent the war. Mars follows Jupiter's commands and heads to earth, stirring up trouble in the cities and driving Adrastus and Polyneices to decl
Publius Papinius Statius was a Roman poet of the 1st century AD. His surviving Latin poetry includes an epic in the Thebaid, he is known for his appearance as a guide in the Purgatory section of Dante's epic poem, the Divine Comedy. Information about Statius' life is entirely drawn from his Silvae and a mention by the satirist Juvenal, he was born to a family of Graeco-Campanian origin. The poet's father was a native of Velia but moved to Naples and spent time in Rome where he taught with marked success. From boyhood to adulthood, Statius' father proved himself a champion in the poetic contests at Naples in the Augustalia and in the Nemean and Isthmian games, which served as important events to display poetic skill during the early empire. Statius declares in his lament for his father that his father was in his time equal to any literary task, whether in prose or verse, he mentioned Mevania, may have spent time there, or been impressed by the confrontation of Vitellius and Vespasian in 69. Statius' father may have lost his status because of money troubles.
At Naples, he was a teacher of Greek and Roman literature who attracted many pupils who were destined for religious offices in Rome. He died in 79 AD. From Pliny the Younger's Letters, it has been deduced that Statius wrote under the pseudonym of Propertius. Less is known of the events of Statius' life, he was born c. 45 AD. From his boyhood he was victorious in poetic contests many times at his native Naples and three times at the Alban Festival, where he received the golden crown from the hand of the emperor Domitian who had instituted the contest. For the Alban Festival, Statius composed a poem on the German and Dacian campaigns of Domitian which Juvenal lampoons in his seventh satire. Statius is thought to have moved to Rome c. 90 after his father's death where he published his acclaimed epic poem the Thebaid c. 92. In the capital, Statius seems to have made many connections among the Roman aristocracy and court, he was supported through their patronage. Statius produced the first three books of occasional poetry, his Silvae, which were published in 93, which sketch his patrons and acquaintances of this period and mention his attendance at one of Domitian's Saturnalia banquets.
He competed in the great Capitoline competition, although it is not known in what year, although 94 has been suggested. Statius failed to win the coveted prize, a loss he took hard; the disappointment may have prompted his return to Naples around 94, the home of his youth. In existence is a poem he addressed to his wife, the widow of a famous singer who had a musically talented daughter by her first husband, on this occasion. Statius' first three books of the Silvae seem to have received some criticism, in response he composed a fourth book' at Naples, published in 95. During this period at Naples, Statius maintained his relations with the court and his patrons, earning himself another invitation to a palace banquet, he seems to have taken an interest in the marriage and career of his stepdaughter and he took a young slave boy under his wing, as he was childless, who died c. 95. In that same year Statius embarked on a new epic, the Achilleid, giving popular recitations of his work only to complete a book and a half before dying in 95, leaving the poem unfinished.
His fifth book of Silvae were published after his death c. 96. As a poet, Statius was versatile in his contrived to represent his work as otium. Taught by his educated father, Statius was familiar with the breadth of classical literature and displayed his learning in his poetry, densely allusive and has been described as elaborate and mannerist, he was able to compose in hexameter, hendecasyllable and Sapphic meters, to produce researched and refined epic and polished impromptu pieces, to treat a variety of themes with the dazzling rhetorical and poetic skill that inspired the support of his patrons and the emperor. Some of Statius' works, such as his poems for his competitions, have been lost. Based on Statius' own testimony, the Thebaid was written c. 80 – c. 92 AD, beginning when the poet was around 35, the work is thought to have been published in 91 or 92. The poem is divided into twelve books in imitation of Virgil's Aeneid and is composed in dactylic hexameter. In the Silvae, Statius speaks of his extensive work in polishing and revising the Thebaid and his public recitations of the poem.
From the epilogue it seems clear that Statius considered the Thebaid to be his magnum opus and believed that it would secure him fame for the future. In the poem, Statius follows Virgil as a model, but he refers to a wide range of sources in his handling of meter and episodes; the poem's theme is the myth of the Seven Against Thebes, the story of the battle between the sons of Oedipus for the throne of Thebes. The poem opens with the disgraced Oedipus' curse on his two sons and Polyneices, who have decided to hold the throne of Thebes in alternate years, one ruling, the other in exile. Jupiter plans a war between Thebes and Argos, although Juno begs him not to inc
The Iliad is an ancient Greek epic poem in dactylic hexameter, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles. Although the story covers only a few weeks in the final year of the war, the Iliad mentions or alludes to many of the Greek legends about the siege; the epic narrative takes up events prophesied for the future, such as Achilles' imminent death and the fall of Troy, although the narrative ends before these events take place. However, as these events are prefigured and alluded to more and more vividly, when it reaches an end the poem has told a more or less complete tale of the Trojan War; the Iliad is paired with something of a sequel, the Odyssey attributed to Homer. Along with the Odyssey, the Iliad is among the oldest extant works of Western literature, its written version is dated to around the 8th century BC.
In the modern vulgate, the Iliad contains 15,693 lines. According to Michael N. Nagler, the Iliad is a more complicated epic poem than the Odyssey. Note: Book numbers are in parentheses and come before the synopsis of the book. After an invocation to the Muses, the story launches in medias res towards the end of the Trojan War between the Trojans and the besieging Greeks. Chryses, a Trojan priest of Apollo, offers the Greeks wealth for the return of his daughter Chryseis, held captive of Agamemnon, the Greek leader. Although most of the Greek army is in favour of the offer, Agamemnon refuses. Chryses prays for Apollo's help, Apollo causes a plague to afflict the Greek army. After nine days of plague, the leader of the Myrmidon contingent, calls an assembly to deal with the problem. Under pressure, Agamemnon agrees to return Chryseis to her father, but decides to take Achilles' captive, Briseis, as compensation. Achilles furiously will go home. Odysseus takes a ship and returns Chryseis to her father, whereupon Apollo ends the plague.
In the meantime, Agamemnon's messengers take Briseis away. Achilles becomes upset, sits by the seashore, prays to his mother, Thetis. Achilles asks his mother to ask Zeus to bring the Greeks to the breaking point by the Trojans, so Agamemnon will realize how much the Greeks need Achilles. Thetis does so, Zeus agrees. Zeus sends a dream to Agamemnon. Agamemnon heeds the dream but first decides to test the Greek army's morale, by telling them to go home; the plan backfires, only the intervention of Odysseus, inspired by Athena, stops a rout. Odysseus confronts and beats Thersites, a common soldier who voices discontent about fighting Agamemnon's war. After a meal, the Greeks deploy in companies upon the Trojan plain; the poet takes the opportunity to describe the provenance of each Greek contingent. When news of the Greek deployment reaches King Priam, the Trojans respond in a sortie upon the plain. In a list similar to that for the Greeks, the poet describes their allies; the armies approach each other, but before they meet, Paris offers to end the war by fighting a duel with Menelaus, urged by his brother and head of the Trojan army, Hector.
While Helen tells Priam about the Greek commanders from the walls of Troy, both sides swear a truce and promise to abide by the outcome of the duel. Paris is beaten, but Aphrodite rescues him and leads him to bed with Helen before Menelaus can kill him. Pressured by Hera's hatred of Troy, Zeus arranges for the Trojan Pandaros to break the truce by wounding Menelaus with an arrow. Agamemnon rouses the Greeks, battle is joined. In the fighting, Diomedes kills many Trojans, including Pandaros, defeats Aeneas, whom Aphrodite rescues, but Diomedes attacks and wounds the goddess. Apollo warns him against warring with gods. Many heroes and commanders join in, including Hector, the gods supporting each side try to influence the battle. Emboldened by Athena, Diomedes wounds puts him out of action. Hector prevents a rout. Hector enters the city, urges prayers and sacrifices, incites Paris to battle, bids his wife Andromache and son Astyanax farewell on the city walls, rejoins the battle. Hector duels with Ajax, but nightfall interrupts the fight, both sides retire.
The Greeks agree to burn their dead, build a wall to protect their ships and camp, while the Trojans quarrel about returning Helen. Paris offers to return the treasure he took and give further wealth as compensation, but not Helen, the offer is refused. A day's truce is agreed for burning the dead, during which the Greeks build their wall and a trench; the next morning, Zeus prohibits the gods from interfering, fighting begins anew. The Trojans prevail and force the Greeks back to their wall, while Hera and Athena are forbidden to help. Night falls, they camp in the field to attack at first light, their watchfires light the plain like stars. Meanwhile, the Greeks are desperate. Agamemnon admits his error, sends an embassy composed of Odysseus, Ajax and two heralds to offer Briseis and extensive gifts to Achilles, who has be