Study Questions on the Iliad

1. What does the term in medias res mean? How does it apply to the Iliad?

2. What is epic retardation? Discuss several examples in the Iliad.

3. What is an epic invocation? Describe the invocation of the Iliad. What purposes does this invocation serve?

4. Who is Phoenix? Describe his role in the Iliad.

5. Describe the Catalogue of Ships in Book II. Discuss its significance to the plot and meaning of the Iliad.

6. Discuss Achilles' family history and its importance to the plot of the Iliad.

7. What is the Patrokleia? What purposes does it serve in the Iliad?

8. Who is Menelaus? In what scenes does he appear in the Iliad? How are these scenes important? How doe they affect the plot and theme of the Iliad?

9. Define arete and discuss its importance in the Iliad.

10. Define the term simile. Discuss several examples in the Iliad.

11. Discuss how the gods affects characters psychologically in the Iliad. Give at least two examples.

12. Give an example of an elaborate description in the Iliad. Why is this description important? How does it relate to the plot of the epic?

13. Discuss the role of women in the Iliad. Use incidents connected with several women to support your answer.

14. How are Achilles and Hector similar? How are they different?

15. Discuss TWO reasons why Eumaios is an important character in the Odyssey. How does he develop the plot and themes of the story?

16. Discuss Keat's sonnet on reading Chapman's Homer. How does this poem relate to your reading of the Iliad?

17. Discuss Achilles' development as a hero in the Iliad.

18. Discuss the unity (or disunity) of the Iliad.

19. In what ways is the Iliad an oral poem? Discuss several oral features of the Iliad.

20. Describe TWO Greek heroes whom Helen mentions to Priam on the walls of Troy. What does Helen tell Priam about each man? Why is this scene important to the Iliad as a whole?

21. Define an epic poem and show how this definition applies to the Iliad.

22. What problems of composition can be noted in the embassy scene in book 9. What does this suggest about the art of the Homeric singer?

23. Describe the embassy to Achilles. What arguments does each ambassador use? How do these arguments suit the character of each ambassador?

24. Give an example of a use of a mythic paradeigm in the Iliad. Explain the connection between the myth and the plot of the epic.

25. Discuss the role of the gods in the Iliad.

29. How are the gods of the Iliad anthropomorphic? Give several examples.

30. Describe Achilles' encounter with Priam at the end of the Iliad. Does Achilles change in this scene? Why or why not?

31. What purposes do the funeral games of Patroclus serve in the narrative of the Iliad?

32. Define xenia. What role does xenia play in the encounter between Diomedes and Glaucus?

33. What is moira? Discuss its role in the Iliad.

34. the argument between Agamemnon and Achilles (I:130-311):  Look here for issues of honor and shame as motivation for each man. How does their motivation compare to that of Maximus the Gladiator and to Jesus?

35. the contest between Menelaus and Paris (Book III): How is Paris portrayed? What do you think of Aphrodite's role in this contest? How does it affect Paris' image? How is this contest important to the plot?

36. the contest between Glaukos and Diomedes (VI:102-236); Why do Glaukos and Diomedes agree not to fight? What does this suggest about the Greek code of fighting?

37. the farewell scene between Hektor and Andromache (VI:369-502): Describe Hektor's relationship with his wife and his son. What does Andromache's speech suggest about her? Compare Hektor's attitude toward his family with that of Maximus the Gladiator.

38. The duel between Hector and Ajax, VII:1-322. Compare this duel to the ones between Menelaus and Paris and between Diomedes and Glaukos. How is it similar? How is it different? What elements of arete and time function in this duel? What does this duel suggest about the characters of both Hector and Ajax?

39. The Embassy Scene at the tent of Achilles, IX:182-655> Look closely at the arguments presented by each of the three ambassadors. How do these speeches reflect the character of each speaker? Which argument is most persuasive to you? What does this embassy suggest to you about Achilles? How does it affect your opinion of him?

40. Many warriors in the Iliad have their exploits highlighted in a scene called an aristeia. Agamemnon's takes place at XI;91. How does Agamamenon's aristeia end? What does his aristeia suggest about Agamemnon? How does it fit with Achilles' comments about Agamemnon in Book 1? How does Agamemnon's aristeia compare to those of Diomedes, Patroclus, and Hector.

41. List at least two events which immediately follow the public assembly in Iliad I.

42. Describe Agamemnonís dream at the beginning of Iliad II. What events follow this dream?

43. What are the terms of combat between Paris and Menelaus in Bk. III?  Describe this combat and its climax.

 44. How is the truce between the Greeks and the Trojans broken in Iliad IV?

 45. In Iliad V Diomedes wounds two gods. Who are they?  Describe the wounding of one of these gods.

 46. Hektor says farewell to three women in Iliad VI.  Who are they?  Describe One of these farewell scenes.

 47. Describe the duel between Hektor and Aias in Iliad VII.

This document was placed on the web by Professor Thomas J. Sienkewicz for his students at Monmouth College, Monmouth, Illinois. If you have any questions, you may contact him at toms@monm.edu.

Return to Monmouth College Classics Dept. Home Page