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The Iliad | Book Summaries

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Timeline of Events

  • After nine years of war

    Achilles refuses to fight because Agamemnon has taken his prize, Briseis.

    Book 1
  • Twelve days later

    Thetis appeals to Zeus to punish the Achaeans on Achilles's behalf, and Zeus agrees.

    Book 1
  • The next day

    A truce is called but is soon broken, and war resumes; Paris and Hector both fight duels.

    Book 4
  • Two days later

    Zeus takes control, driving back the Achaeans; Hector's rampage kills many before night falls.

    Book 8
  • That night

    Odysseus and Diomedes raid the Trojan army camped outside the city.

    Book 10
  • In the morning

    After Agamemnon's hour of glory, the Trojans advance and wound many Achaean heroes.

    Book 11
  • As the day continues

    After Hector and the Trojans reach the ships, Patroclus enters the battle and is killed.

    Book 16
  • The next day

    With new armor from the gods, Achilles returns to the war and kills Hector.

    Book 22
  • Twelve nights later

    After Priam's personal appeal to bury his son, Achilles returns Hector's body.

    Book 24
  • On the 11th day

    After a period of mourning, Hector's body is burned and his bones are buried.

    Book 24

Book Summaries Chart

Book Summary
Book 1 In the tenth year of the Trojan War, Achilles, the greatest fighter for the Achaeans (the Greeks and their allies), is e... Read More
Book 2 To fulfill his promise to Thetis, Zeus sends Agamemnon a dream that he will defeat Troy, leading him to believe all the ... Read More
Book 3 Paris boldly strides in the front rank of the Trojan forces, but he hides when he sees Menelaus, Helen's abandoned husba... Read More
Book 4 On Olympus, the gods argue over the war. Zeus suggests that the peace hold and Helen go home with Menelaus, both because... Read More
Book 5 Athena empowers Diomedes, who is one of the best fighters in the Achaean army, and he sweeps through the Trojan troops. ... Read More
Book 6 As the Achaeans drive the Trojans back toward their gates, Menelaus catches a Trojan charioteer. The Trojan begs to be r... Read More
Book 7 The return of Hector and Paris reinvigorates the Trojan troops. Alarmed, Athena rushes back toward the battle, but Apoll... Read More
Book 8 On Olympus, Zeus has had enough. He forbids the other gods from interfering in the war and goes off to the mountains of ... Read More
Book 9 There is panic in the Achaean camp. Agamemnon fears they must sail home, but Diomedes argues against such cowardice. He ... Read More
Book 10 Agamemnon and Menelaus can't sleep with the Trojans camped so near, so they rouse the other commanders for a council. Wh... Read More
Book 11 In the morning the armies clash, wreaking destruction on both sides. Then Achaean fighters begin to gain ground. Agamemn... Read More
Book 12 As the Trojans advance on the Achaean wall, the poet reveals that the gods will destroy it as soon as they depart. The t... Read More
Book 13 With the Trojans through the Achaean wall, Zeus takes his eyes off the fighting, and the sea-god Poseidon takes advantag... Read More
Book 14 Hearing the sounds of battle, Nestor gathers the wounded Achaean commanders. Agamemnon fears losing and proposes sailing... Read More
Book 15 As the Trojans are driven back to their chariots outside the wall, Zeus wakes up and sees what is happening. He threaten... Read More
Book 16 Patroclus tells Achilles how badly the battle is going and scolds him for his rage. If he will not relent, Achilles shou... Read More
Book 17 A fierce battle rages over Patroclus's body with gods assisting fighters on both sides. Menelaus kills Euphorbus, the yo... Read More
Book 18 Achilles has a bad feeling that Patroclus is dead even before Menelaus's messenger arrives. Upon hearing the news, Achil... Read More
Book 19 The next morning Thetis delivers Achilles's new armor, gives him strength, and promises to keep Patroclus's body from de... Read More
Book 20 Zeus calls the gods together and gives them permission to intervene in the war however they wish. The gods pick sides bu... Read More
Book 21 Achilles pushes the Trojan army back, driving a portion of it into the river Xanthus (also called Scamander), where he s... Read More
Book 22 Apollo reveals he has tricked Achilles into letting the Trojans escape, and Achilles runs back to Troy like a deadly sta... Read More
Book 23 After returning to the Achaean camp, Achilles and the Myrmidons mourn Patroclus, and Achilles vents his anger by abusing... Read More
Book 24 For the next several days, Achilles drags Hector's corpse around Patroclus's tomb every time he misses his comrade. Apol... Read More
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