The Iliad Activities

Instructor: Rachel Tustin

Dr. Rachel Tustin has a PhD in Education focusing on Educational Technology, a Masters in English, and a BS in Marine Science. She has taught in K-12 for more than 15 years, and higher education for ten years.

'The Iliad' is a text that offers ample opportunities to incorporate history and mythology into your classroom. While the text may be challenging, you can engage students in Homer's epic poem by using some of the ideas in this lesson.

Teaching The Iliad

The Iliad is a wonderfully rich epic poem to explore in your classroom. It is full of history, memorable characters and even mythological references. The length and language of the text, however, can be extremely challenging to students. So as a teacher, try some of the following ideas to allow students to share their understanding through many different mediums.

The Iliad as a Mural

The Iliad presents a great deal of challenging text to get through, even for high school students. For your visual learners, that much text can present a huge challenge. So why not let students create a mural that retells the story as they work their way through the text?

Flaxman Iliad copper engraving
iliad image 1


  • 1 ft. by 1 ft. pieces of cardboard, foam board or poster board
  • Assorted art supplies


Before you begin teaching The Iliad, decide how you will divide up the work among your students. You might decide to assign each group of students a book, or you can even subdivide each book as needed.

  1. Show students examples of murals and ask them to explain the story the mural tells. Explain to students that they are going to create a mural to tell the story of The Iliad.
  2. As you work through The Iliad, have students create sketches (to the best of their artistic ability) as they read. Students can create sketches throughout the reading, even though they will focus on a particular book for their section of the mural.
  3. Remind students that while some of us are more artistic than others, there are lots of ways to 'sketch' what they read. For example, they could focus on a color collage to show the emotions of a particular battle or character central to their assigned book. It is okay at this point if every member of a group has a different sketch because they will all come together in the end.
  4. Give each group their 1 ft. by 1 ft. panel, and explain that their team is going to create a section of the mural based on their book of The Iliad. Have them write the number of their book on the back, to make it easier to assemble later.
  5. Allow each team to design their panel of the mural. Encourage students to be symbolic in how they tell the story, especially if your students are not all artists. You can even have them write a passage to explain how their mural depicts their assigned book in The Iliad.
  6. Display your mural in your school for the students and your colleagues to enjoy!

Mythology in The Iliad

When reading The Iliad with your students, it is hard to overlook all the ways that mythology appears in the tale. From Zeus to Hephaestus, there are enough references to go around for every student in your classroom. So let your students explore how mythology helps the reader understand The Iliad.

John Flaxman - The Judgment of Paris, from the Iliad
iliad image 2


  • Copies of Bulfinch's Mythology
  • Copies of The Iiad


  1. As you read The Iliad with your students, have them track the references to mythology throughout the epic poem.
  2. As students encounter mythological references in their reading, have them read related text in Bulfinch's Mythology. For example, when Aphrodite rescues Paris, stop and have students read about Aphrodite. Discuss how she influences the character, the plot, related symbolism, etc.
  3. Repeat this process are you read through all the books in the epic poem.
  4. Once you have reached the end, have students work in groups to create a video telling how mythology helps them understand The Iliad. Depending on how in-depth you would like students to get, you may decide to assign each group a specific god/goddess to focus on in their final product.
  5. Have students create a storyboard for their video. Encourage them to get feedback from you, and even their peers, before they begin.
  6. Once students have finished their videos, you can have a viewing party in your class!

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