The Iliad: Book 1

By Katie Dyo and Rachel Kinser

Summary

In Book One, we are introduced to the conflict between Achilles and Agamemnon. Agamemnon has snubbed, Chryses, a priest of Apollo. Chryses approaches Agamemnon bearing ransom for his daughter, Chrysies. Chrysies is Agamemnon’s “prize”. Agamemnon blatantly refuses the ransom believing a great dishonor to surrender Chrysies and even threatens Chryses for approaching him. Chryses leaves empty-handed; however he beseeches Apollo to avenge his loss until he is reunited with Chrysies. Apollo hearing his prayer, sweeps down from Olympus and plagues Achaea’s ranks, until, tired of the unending casualties, Achilles asks a seer what they have done to anger the Gods. Calchas steps forward under Achilles protection and proclaims that until Chrysies is returned to her father, the plague will not end. Calchas also dictates that Agamemnon must return Chrysies himself, along with one hundred bulls to be sacrificed. Agamemnon claims that he will gladly return Chrysies so long as he may have another “prize” to immediately replace her. Achilles denies him arguing that it would be disrespectful to take another man’s “prize”. Then, Agamemnon, in a fit of fury, accuses Achilles of plotting to dishonor him and threatens to take Briesies, Achilles “prize”. Achilles, furious with Agamemnon’s disrespect tries to sate him, promising Agamemnon a large bounty at their next conquest. Agamemnon, with the stubbornness of a little child, refuses and insists on making Achilles pay by taking Briesies. Achilles then prepares to unleash his vicious temper, only to be stopped by Pallas Athena. Achillies checks his rage, but only just and proceeds to give Agamemnon a vicious tongue lashing before storming off. The book concludes with Agamemnon returning Chrysies and sending two messengers to fetch Briesies.

Characters

Achilles: son of Zeus and Thetis, great warrior-in book 1 he fights with Agamemnon over honor and disrespect

Agamemnon: King of Mycenae, in book 1 he is a prideful and arrogant

Chryses: priest of Apollo, in book 1 he tries to ransom his daughter but is refused by Agamemnon

Apollo: God of the sun-in book 1 he unleashes a plague among the ranks of the Greek army for offending his priest

Athena: Goddess of Wisdom (warrior), in book 1 she sweeps down from Olympus to prevent Achilles from harming Agamemnon

Thetis: mother of Achilles, she pleads with Zeus to grant the Trojans victories in her son's absence


Quotes

"I won't give back the girl. Long before that, old age will overtake her in my house, in Argos, far from her fatherland, slaving back and forth at the loom, forced to share my bed!"

-King Agamemnon (Theme/Tragic Quality) pg. 78 lines 33-36


"I rank her higher than Clytemnestra, my wedded wife--she's nothing less in build or breeding, in mind or works of hand."

-King Agamemnon (Theme) pg. 81 lines 132-134


"--if our generous Argives will give me a prize, a match for my desires, equal to what I've lost, well and good. But if they give me nothing, I will take a prize myself--your own or Ajax' or Odysseus' prize--I'll commandeer her myself and let that man I go to visit choke with rage!"

-King Agamemnon to Achilles (Tragic Qualities/Theme) pg. 82 lines 159-165


"Why, why now? Child of Zeus with the shield of thunder, why come now? To witness the ourtage Agamemnon just committed? I tell you this, and so help me it's the truth--he'll soon pay for his arrogance with his life!"

-Athena to Achilles (Tragic Qualities/Theme) pg. 84 lines 236-240


"Staggering drunk, with your dogs eyes, with your fawns heart. Never once did you arm with the troops and go to battle, or risk an ambush packed with Achaeas picked men. --you lack the courage, you can see death coming. Safer by far you find to foray throughout the camp commandeering the prize of any man who speaks against you."

-Achilles to King Agamemnon (Theme) pg. 85 lines 264-269


"Go to Achilles' lodge. Take Briseis at once, his beauty by the hand and bring her here. But it he will not surrender her, I'll go myself, I'll seize her myself, with an army at my back-- and all the worse for him!"

-Agamemnon to two heralds (Theme/Tragic Qualities) pg. 88 lines 378-382


"O my son, my sorrow, why did I ever bear you? All I bore was doom..."

-Thetis to Achilles (Theme-shame) pg. 91 lines 492-493


"Ah but tell me, Hera, just what can you do about all this? Nothing. Only estrange yourself from me a little more--and all the worse for you."

-Zeus to Hera (Theme-manliness) pg. 96 675-678