The significance of the first line of The Iliad, “The wrath of Achilles”
The first word of the Iliad is “rage” or “wrath”. This word indicates one of the major themes of the Iliad: “The wrath of Achilles” which is also the first line of the Illiad.
When Agamemnon, the commander of the Greek forces at Troy, dishonors Achilles by taking Briseis, a slave woman given to Achilles as a prize of war, Achilles got angry and left the fighting for almost all of the story.
Without Achilles and his powerful Myrmidon warriors, the Greeks were suffering and starting to lose the war, and the Greek forces were almost defeated by the Trojans. Achilles re-enters the fighting when his dearest friend, Patroclus, is killed by the Trojan prince, Hector.
Then Achilles killed many Trojans and kills Hector, and took his revenge. In his rage, he then refuses to return Hector’s body. Then Priam, the father of Hector, requested Achilles to return Hector’s dead body. And the Iliad ends with the funeral of Hector.
The significance of the first line of The Iliad
During the Trojan war, Greeks were not only attacking Troy, but also they were attacking the neighboring states of Troy. And they defeated some of them.
Among those defeated states, a priest named Chryses came to Agamemnon and urged him to free his daughter from their captivity. And as expected, Agamemnon refused Chryses’ request. Chryses was the priest of God Apollo.
After this, Chryses requested Apollo to punish the Greeks. And Apollo punished the Greeks by plague. And the Greek soldiers are started dying day by day.
So they went to a prophet, and the prophet told them everything, that is why this is happening with them. Then Agamemnon decided to return Chryses’s daughter to him. But his daughter is now with Achilles.
And when Agamemnon told Achilles to return the chreyses’ daughter to him, Achilles got very angry with Agamemnon and decided that he will no longer continue his fight for them. Patroclus was wearing Achilles’ armor, So everybody assumed that it was Achilles.
And Hector killed him. Hector thought that it was Achilles. After this incident Achilles got very angry and he decided to rejoin the war and he also decided to kill Hector.
Significance First line of the Iliad in English
In the battle between them, Achilles finally killed Hector. It is a ritual that after the death of a soldier everyone shows respect to his dead body.
No matter whether he was their friend or enemy. But in Hector’s case, Achilles dragged his dead body with the rope with Chariot.
Achilles did this to show fear to everyone. But after the request of Priam, Achilles returns Hector’s dead body to Troy.
And the Greek side decided that next twelve days they will not going to attack Trojan forces for the death of Hector. And the Iliad ends with the funeral of Hector.
Author: Tonmoy Debnath
Institution: Notre Dame University Bangladesh
Member of ‘Future Writers’