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Character Roles (Protagonist, Antagonist...)
Tools of Characterization
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The Iliad Characters
Meet the Cast
To understand Achilleus, you've got to start with his family tree. Many years before the Trojan War, Zeus, king of the gods, developed a crush on Thetis, a sea-goddess. That's when he learned of a...
Unlike Achilleus, who is mainly motivated by his sense of pride, Hektor fights primarily out of a sense of responsibility to his city and his family. The connection between these two is particularl...
So we all know that the Iliad is about the anger of Achilleus, but what we sometimes forget is that it takes two to tango. Even though Achilleus's reactions to things are typically over the top and...
Patroklos has been Achilleus's best friend since childhood. Even though Patroklos is older than Achilleus, he is much weaker. When the two of them are sailing off for Troy, Patroklos's father Menoi...
Thetis, a goddess of the sea, is the mother of Achilleus. Her husband – though they seem to be estranged – is the mortal Peleus. As a result of this mortal contamination, Achilleus does...
Even he does not appear in many scenes, Odysseus's role in the Iliad lays the groundwork for a subsequent tradition (including the Odyssey and the non-Homeric poems of The Epic Cycle) that portrays...
Nestor is the wise old man of the Achaian army. Well, at least part of that statement is true. Nestor never passes up an opportunity to tell a long, rambling story about how awesome he was back in...
Diomedes is a very important member of the Achaian army who just can't seem to get any credit. This is reflected not only in his peripheral status in scholarly treatments of the Iliad (with many ev...
On the one hand, Menelaos is an important character in setting up the backstory of the Iliad. After all, it was his wife, Helen, who ran off with Paris and thus kicked off the Trojan War. On the ot...
Nothing sums up Paris's status in the Iliad like the end of Book 3. When Menelaos is looking for Paris – whom Aphrodite has carried off to safety – we learn that, even if the Trojans kn...
Even though she has only a small role, Helen is one of the Iliad's most interesting characters. For one thing, she is supposed to be the most beautiful woman in the world, which we think is pretty...
Priam's greatest fault is being a pushover for his son Paris. Even though everyone thinks Paris should just give Helen back to the Achaians, Priam lets his son have his own way, thereby condemning...
By Aias we are here referring to "big" Aias (a.k.a. "Telamonian Aias," the son of Telamon). "Little" Aias is, well, a much smaller character, and doesn't get his own profile. Basically, Aias is a r...
To a certain extent, the role of the gods in Homer's Iliad can be summed up by the following remark by a character in an entirely different literary work, Gloucester from Shakespeare's King Lear: "...