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The Iliad Narrator:

Who is the narrator, can she or he read minds, and, more importantly, can we trust her or him?

Third Person Omniscient (Frame)

As you will see in the Iliad's opening line, the narrator is not an eyewitness to the events of the story. Instead, he asks the Muse (the goddess of poetry) to inspire him with knowledge of what happened long before his time. What the Muse tells him (i.e., what we see when we read the Iliad) is mostly the actions and words of men and women. We do get some limited insight into characters' minds – especially when they are deciding between several courses of action – but most of the time we learn about their thoughts from what they say, like in a play. Within this framework, Homer's narration is extremely even-handed. Not only do we learn about what is going on among both the Achaians and the Trojans (the focus is a bit more on the Achaians), but we get to see the conversations and actions of the gods. This last feature, plus the poet's apparent knowledge of the ways of fate, must have struck his original audience as pretty darn nifty.

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