The Iliad Book 1 – a reaction

A blog response to Book 1 of The Iliad by Homer for Literature class.


Book 1 of the Iliad was surprisingly not as boring as I expected it to be. I have always disliked literature as a subject, especially since I did badly in it during high school. However, I always try to keep an open mind.

Everyone knows that the Iliad is some sort of masterpiece and that it is not light reading; in fact it is pretty heavy reading. That is why when I got started reading the Iliad, I made sure to keep in my mind that this is just a book, and it is readable. It is still and English and though some phrases or sentences are twisted in one way or another, a little analysis and patience will do the trick and eventually it will be understood.

Book 1 basically shows the feud between Agammemnon and Akhilleus. The conflict was really about pride and girls. Just a short summary, Agammemnon was holding Khryseis as his war prize when her father, Khryses wanted her back but was not willing to give a ransom. Naturally, Agammemnon would not want to give her back because she “belongs” to Agammemnon. However, if Agammemnon did not give her back, there would be a plague and his troops would die. Akhilleus was one of the ones who talked him into giving up Khryseis for the sake of the army. However, Agammemnon as replacement took Akhilleus’ war prize, Briseis, for Khryseis. One thing led to another and sooner or later, Akhilleus was gone. He stayed in his ship and did not want to go to battle with the Trojans. It was not an easy read, I did not understand some of the parts the first time I read Book 1 but eventually, after some discussions and after going back to the text, I understood it.

In class we also spent quite some time in this book. I figure it was just the first book so it is sort of our break in period as well. We had a pretty long discussion so that we could get the hang of talking about and reading the Iliad because it gave us more time to re-read the text too. I also liked the discussion because at one point the teacher asked us if we thought that Akhilleus’ leaving the war was an over reaction or not. I did not think so, so I explained my side. A classmate thought it was an over reaction, actually almost majority of the class thought it was an over reaction, so he explained his side too, until it became sort of a debate. A very informal debate, just two sides trying to explain their opinions clearly. However, I think the problem with our little debate is that to begin with, in some interpretations of the text, we were not on the same page. It was as if he interpreted a certain part of the text in one way and I interpreted it in another. So we were not on the same page most of the time but that is just what I think. I am not a hundred percent sure that we were thinking differently.


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