Along with The Odyssey, The Iliad is a part of the oldest collection of epic poetry in history. The Iliad is and ancient Greek poem that, like the Odyssey, is purported to have been created by a man named Homer. Although no one has concrete evidence relating to the author of these tales, it is widely accepted that Homer was a blind Ionian bard. The Odyssey and The Iliad were created sometime between 800 and 700 BC. Rivaling these poems in age, the works of Hesiod were created around 700 BC.
The Iliad has been translated into dozens of languages, adapted for the stage and silver screen and inspired untold numbers of stories, novels, and poems. However, in Homer’s time literature was not appreciated on the page. Instead of being printed and distributed for solitary enjoyment by readers, stories were presented orally by the author. Homer, Hesiod, and men of their ilk would be brought into royal courts or the homes of nobles to orate, perhaps as entertainment after a meal.
The Iliad begins with the following words:
Sing, goddess, the rage of Achilles the son of Peleus,
the destructive rage that sent countless pains on the Achaeans...
Clearly, rage is an important part of the poem from the outset. In fact, the word iliad means “rage” or “wrath” in Ancient Greek. In keeping with the theme, The Iliad is an incredibly bloody piece of literature. The story that unfolds within Homer’s stanzas is that of the events that took place during the tenth year of the Greek siege on Troy. Furthermore, it has to do with the wrath of Achilles, a major player in Greek mythology. Achilles' wrath has to do with a slave woman named Briseis, who was given to him as a prize for his fighting. Agamemnon dishonors Achilles by taking Briseis from him, which leads to Achilles withdrawing from the war.
In The Iliad, Achilles and his accompanying Myrmidon warriors, the Greeks are defeated by the Trojans. They are beaten badly and almost surrender. However, when Patroclus, a dear friend to Achilles, is struck down by the Trojan prince Hector, he returns to the battlefield with redoubled rage. Because he is so enrages with Hector, Achilles murders him and refuses to return his body to his father. Instead, he holds it for ransom. Priam, Hector’s father, agrees to the ransom and the epic poem ends with a burial for the late Trojan Prince.