The Siege of Troy

Summary of the Iliad

At the opening of the poem, the Greeks have already besieged Troy for nine years in vain; they are despondent, homesick, and decimated with disease. They had been delayed at Aulis by sickness and a windless sea; and Agamemnon had embittered Clytemnestra, and prepared his own fate, by sacrificing their daughter Iphegenia for a breeze. On the way up the coast, the Greeks had stopped here and there to replenish their supplies of food and concubines; Agamemnon had taken the fair Chryseis, Achilles the fair Briseis. A soothsayer now declares that Apollo is withholding success from the Greeks because Agamemnon has violated the daughter of Apollo's priest, Chryseis. The King restores Chryseis to her father, but, to console himself and point a tale, he compels Briseis to leave Achilles and take Chryseis' place in the royal tent. Achilles convokes a general assembly, and denounces Agamemnon with a wrath that provides the first word and recurring-theme of the Iliad. He vows that neither he nor his soldiers will any longer stir a hand to help the Greeks. (I-II)

We pass in review the ships and tribes of the assembled force, and (III) see bluff Menelaus engaging Paris in single combat to decide the war. The two armies sit down in a civilized truce; Priam joins Agamemnon in solemn sacrifice to the gods. Menelaus overcomes Paris, but Aphrodite snatches the lad safely away in a cloud and deposits him, miraculously powdered and

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