Lectures for Writers: The Iliad

Where do our myths and legends come from?

The Iliad (sometimes referred to as the Song of Ilion or Song of Ilium) is an epic poem. The story is written in dactylic hexameters, which is attributed to Homer. The poem's action is set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy (Ilium) by a coalition of Greek states. The story tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles.

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Lectures for Writers:
  • Reading for Writers via Project Gutenberg 
  • Listen to the Iliad
  • Watch the lecture
  • Dr. Ruth Scodel, Collegiate Professor of Greek and Latin, University of Michigan, discusses fascinating issues that have confronted readers of Homer’s Iliad, the oldest work of Western literature.
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Workshop 

Questions to ask ourselves about The Illiad.
  • If you were a participant in the Trojan War, which side would you be on?  And, why?
  • If you lived as a mythological hero like a character in the Iliad, what cultural values would your decision support? And, why?
Workshop Assignment 1: Write a 1500 word poem of your own expanding on one of the scenes in the Iliad using dactylic hexameter that supports your chosen side.

Workshop Assignment 2:
Write how mythology of the hero plays an important role in character development. Choose one character and describe in an essay why that character embodies the hero journey. 

Compare and contrast your two assignments. What do you find similar? What do you find different? How does Homer tell the story of the Trojan War? Does he use the hero journey to frame his characters?

How does Homer's writing style allow for repetition of his story to others of the time?


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