Quotes from The Iliad

Instructor: Rachel Noorda
Returning home was the motivation for fighting in the Trojan war, in which the gods of ancient Greece were deeply involved, and the burial of killed soldiers was important to the Greek idea of the afterlife. In this lesson, you will learn three key quotes from Homer's epic poem the 'Iliad' that relate to these themes.

Background to the Iliad

The Iliad is a Greek epic poem by Homer. The poem tells the events of the Trojan War, a war between the Achaeans and the Trojans. This lesson discusses three important quotes from the Iliad. These quotes are significant to the story and to ancient Greek culture.

Returning Home

What motivates armies to fight? The ultimate motivation for the Achaeans in fighting against Troy is to return to their families and homes at the end of the war. This is why when Nestor prays to the god Zeus, he says:

'If ever any one in wheat-growing Argos burned you fat thigh-bones of sheep or heifer and prayed that he might return safely home, whereon you bowed your head to him in assent, bear it in mind now, and suffer not the Trojans to triumph thus over the Achaeans.'

The Gods


The gods play a crucial role in the story of the Iliad. The Greek gods are powerful but flawed, and they act like humans, choose sides, and have imperfect qualities of jealousy, hate and anger. While both the Trojans and Achaeans rely on the gods for help, they also begin to realize that the gods are involved in their own quarrels and will not necessarily help men. Hector says this quote to himself as he battles with Achilles:

'Alas! the gods have lured me on to my destruction. I deemed that the hero Deiphobus was by my side, but he is within the wall, and Minerva has inveigled me; death is now indeed exceedingly near at hand and there is no way out of it- for so Jove and his son Apollo the far-darter have willed it, though heretofore they have been ever ready to protect me. My doom has come upon me; let me not then die ingloriously and without a struggle, but let me first do some great thing that shall be told among men hereafter.'

The Afterlife and Burial

After Patroclus dies in battle, his ghost comes to Achilles in a dream and says these words:

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