Classics 130 - The Trojan War: The Iliad - Books 7-12

Reading and Discussion Questions:

Please consider the follow questions while you read the Iliad. These are topics that we will very likely discuss together in class, so use these to collect thoughts and take notes if it helps.

Who volunteers to fight Hector? How is it decided who will stand up against him?

What is the importance of offering each side the right to bury its dead according to its fashion? How does the duel challenge relate to this?

Does Zeus control the destinies of the Greeks and Trojans he weighs in his balance, or are those destinies beyond his control?

Why is Agamemnon now eager to make peace with Achilles? Does he admit he was wrong and take full responsibility? Why are the members of the embassy important in relation to the prizes and/or the desired result?

What role does feasting play in this part of the story? What role in Homeric society?

What might be the point of Homer giving the history of various elements of arms, such as the helmet Odysseus wears on the night expedition? (Book 10) What is the purpose of the "night expeditions" on both sides? What happens when they meet?

Why does Zeus still favor the Trojans? Do you? What moves Achilles to send Patroclos to the Greeks? What is the purpose of Nestor's lengthy narrative?

How do similes help the reader/audience more intensely visualize or experience the fighters or the fighting? Did these similes enrich your reading experience or distract you? Would audiences have liked them?

Consider whether the final moment of Book 12 makes for a dramatic or effective book ending, and perhaps as a finale of the first "half" of the epic.