The lliad

So that's why Brad Pitt looks so fit in Troy! (The movie, not the city-state.) He's related to the gods, just like Achilles was. We always knew knew it was our lame mortal genes and not our refusal to hit the gym that was preventing us from building muscles like that.

AuthorHomer - Homer
FormPoem
LanguageEnglish Language
LiteratureWorld Literature
PoetryEpic Poem
ThemesCompassion and Forgiveness
Fate and Free Will
Friendship
Hate
Love
Mortality
Pride
Religion
War and Warfare

Transcript

00:25

While Disney would have you believe that Hercules was the ultimate gladiator, if you're looking

00:29

for the real men of the Hellenic peninsula, you need look no further than Homer's epic

00:34

poem, the Iliad.

00:36

The Iliad takes a look at about 10 days of the Trojan WarÉ and focuses on the character

00:41

of AchillesÉ and his anger management problem.

00:44

What is it about this guy that makes him so important he gets an entire epic poem written

00:49

about him? Now, you've probably heard the story of how

00:51

Achilles' mom, Thetis, attempted to make her son immortal by dipping him in the river Styx.

00:58

She would have succeeded, too, if only she'd put the heel she was holding into the water

01:02

along with the rest of her son.

01:04

However, that part of his story isn't even mentioned in the Iliad.

01:08

Besides, it's not like Achilles even needed a swim in the Styx Ð he was born with advantages

01:12

that we mortals can only dream of.

01:14

First off, Achilles' mom was a goddess. Pretty cool, right? He didn't have to eat his Wheaties

01:19

in order to grow up big and strongÉ

01:21

Éhe was automatically mighty, and more powerful than any mere human, by virtue of hisÉ genealogy.

01:28

Achilles' ties to Mount Olympus also meant he could ring up Zeus whenever he wanted and

01:32

ask for a favor.

01:34

ÒAssist the Trojans, Zeusy,Ó Achilles said, and BAM! It was done.

01:39

Not that it turned out well for anyone, including Achilles' bestie, Patroklos[1] << PAT-tro-kluss>>,

01:44

but you know...connections. It's nice to have them.

01:47

Or maybe what made Achilles such a big hero was his prophesied fate.

01:51

Unlike the rest of us, who wander through life hoping we end up rich, famous, and happy,

01:55

Achilles knew he was destined for buckets of glory...as long as he died young.

02:00

If Achilles made it home from Troy, however, he would die old, fat, and without glory.

02:04

That's a toughie. Something else that set Achilles apart from

02:09

all the other Greek heroes was that, even if you took away his goddess mom and the prophecy

02:13

about his destinyÉ

02:14

Éhe was still an amazing warrior...and crazy to boot. Can't forget that part.

02:19

You see, Achilles had the ego of a Kardashian and the emotional maturity of an eight-year-old.

02:25

When Agamemnon threatened to break up Achilles and our hero's girlfriend Briseis <<bruh-see-iss>>,

02:30

the only way that Achilles could get back at Agamemnon was to ask Zeus to help out the

02:34

Trojans[2]É and to stop fighting in the war himself.

02:37

Then, when Achilles' BFF, Patroklos, goes to that big agora<<aa-guh-ruh>> in the sky,

02:47

Achilles loses it. He starts killing guys left and right.

02:50

Oh, you're waving a white flag? You're dead. Oh, you're begging for your life? Dead.

02:55

So, um, maybe not such a hero after all.[3] At least not in the way we think of a hero

03:00

today. What do you think?

03:02

Hero?

03:03

Éor zero? Shmoop amongst yourselves.

03:04

[1]Emphasis on the Pat (PAT-tro-kluss) [2]Um, and he stops fighting in the war. That's

03:05

the whole point. [3]This kind of glosses over the fact that

03:05

the definition of hero in ancient Greece was different than todayÉ