Study Questions

1. Make a brief (3-4 phrases) summary of each book, trying to think of patterns.

2. What does Book 13 have to do with the Wrath of Achilles?

3. Given the "tactical situation" at the end of Book 12, what do you expect to happen in Book 13? Why doesn't it?

4. What is the effect of the fact that it is only because of the (sneaky, unsanctioned) participation of the gods (in Book 13) that Greek resistance stiffens?

5. What does Book 14 have to do with the Wrath of Achilles?

6. What effect does the seduction of Zeus by Hera in Book 14 (and his consequent post-coital oblivion) have in common with the woundings of heroes in Book 11? What is the most important consequence of his nap?

7. What is the "tactical situation" at the end of Book 14 (i.e., who is winning, and why)?

8. What does Book 15 have to do with the Wrath of Achilles?

9. To what extend does the second half of Book 15 repeat a sequence of events you have seen before? What makes this second sequence possible?

10. What new information do we get from Zeus' revelation of his will to Hera in Book 15?

11. Assess the tactical situation at the end of Book 15. How exactly does it compare to that at the end of Book 12? What do you now expect to happen?

12. What elements are there in the death of Sarpedon (16.419-683) which are repeated in the subsequent death of Patroklos?

13. Compare the aristeias (periods of battlefield invincibility) of Patroklos with others you have seen in the poem (notably, that of Diomedes in Book 5); what similarities and differences do you find?

14. To what extent is Patroklos responsible for his own death (think of hybris here, and study carefully the interview between Patroklos and Achilles in early Book 16)? What is the danger implicit in the armor which Patroklos is wearing?

15. Given that Hektor actually begins to burn Greek ships in the early part of Book 16, how exactly does Achilles "blow it" in this book?

16. To what extent is Achilles responsible for the death of Patroklos (think about what exactly he asked of Zeus in Book 1)?

17. Discuss the death of Patroklos; why does it take one god and two Trojans to do him in? Is this a "heroic" death? Does it redound to Hektor's glory, hero-wise?

18. Compare Hektor and Patroklos: what do they have in common?; how do they compare in terms of "likeability" (from the audience point of view) with each other, and with the other major characters in the poem? What is the poet doing here?

19. What does Book 17 have to do with the Wrath of Achilles?

20. What elements in Book 17 have you seen before (notably in Book 16)? What is the poet doing here?

21. Given that the "proper" triumph of warrior A over warrior B includes A's possession of both the body and the arms of dead B, what is particularly ironic (or fitting) about the disposition of things by the end of Book 17? Where in the poem before have you seen an important body go one way and (a piece of) his armor go the other way?

22. What does Book 18 have to do with the Wrath of Achilles?

23. What do you expect to happen at the beginning of Book 18? Why doesn't it happen?

24. What does the Briseis scene in Book 18 add to the story?

25. What (if anything) is excessive about Achilles' grief for Patroklos so far?

26. What do you make of the Arms of Achilles (the new ones)?

27. What is going to happen to Achilles eventually? To Hektor? How exactly do we know?

Source: Used by permission.