Introduction to the IliadAcross the Aegean Sea, to the east of Greece, once flourished the great city called Ilium, known in story and song as Troy. Soldiers from the powerful city-states of Greece laid siege to Troy. The epic poem the Iliad tells of this protracted conflict.Prepare to read an excerpt from the Iliad by learning about the ancient Greeks and their values, including the men they considered heroes.Background to the IliadThe Iliad is one of the oldest pieces of literature you will ever read. Before you begin reading this ancient tale, you will learn about the times and values of ancient Greece. You will also learn about the context and main characters of the story and review the characteristics of epic poetry and the epic hero.Use the Student Guide to take notes and answer questions as you work through the lesson.Who Were the Ancient Greeks?Ancient Greece was not a country with a king, but a land of loosely affiliated city-states, each with its own army, laws, and leader. The idea of democracy—a government in which citizens rulethemselves—was born in ancient Greece.The Greeks also made important advances in math, science, medicine, architecture, art, and literature. Their civilization began in the eighth century B.C. and lasted for about four centuries.
Greek DeitiesThe ancient Greeks worshipped many different gods and godesses—divine entities that they believed had the power to influence human lives. The Greeks built temples and shrines to honor their deities; they believed it was important to keep the gods and goddesses satisfied, lest they bring trouble upon humanity.Review the twelve Greek gods (PDF) of Mt. Olympus. These gods play a part in the action of the Iliad.Literature ResourceThe Twelve Greek Gods of Mt. OlympusThe Greek pantheon included many great and lesser deities, but the most important of these were thegods and goddesses who dwelled in Mt. Olympus, Greece’s highest mountain. The ancient Greeksimagined these deities in human form and told stories of their involvement in the affairs of mortals. The
Twelve Olympians were a divine family, all related as siblings or as parents and children.Name Dominion Sacred EmblemsZeus king of the gods, wielder of storms oak, eaglePoseidon god of the sea, second only to Zeus in power horseHades god of the underworld and of wealth the Helm of Darkness (helmet ofinvisibility)Apollo god of the sun, medicine, and truth laurel tree, dolphinArtemis goddess of the moon and the hunt cypress tree, all wild animalsAres god of war vulture, spear, dogs of warAthena goddess of wisdom, protector of civilized life,patroness of handicrafts and farmingolive tree, owlHermes the messenger of the gods—also the masterthief, very cunning, and protector of tradersthe caduceus—a winged staffaround which two snakes coilAphrodite goddess of love and beauty myrtle tree, doveHera the queen of the gods and protector of marriage peacock, cowHephaestus god of fire and the forge, patron of handicraftsand farming