The Iliad (Greek: Ἰλιάς [iliás] (Ancient), Ιλιάδα [ili’aða] (Modern)) is, together with the Odyssey, one of two ancient Greek epic poems traditionally attributed to Homer. However, the claim of a single author is disputed, as the poems show evidence of a long oral tradition and hence, possible multiple authors.
Many scholars believe the poem to be the oldest extant work of literature in the ancient Greek language. For most of the 20th century, both the Iliad and the Odyssey have been commonly dated to the late 9th or 8th century BC.
Most still hold this view, notably Barry B. Powell (who has proposed a link between the writing of the Iliad and the invention of the Greek alphabet), G.S. Kirk, and Richard Janko. However a few others, such as Martin West and Richard Seaford, now prefer a date in the 7th or even the 6th century BC.
The poem concerns events during the ninth year of the Trojan War, the siege of the city of Ilion or Troy, by the Greeks. The plot centers on the Greek warrior Achilles and his anger toward the king of Mycenae, Agamemnon, which proves disastrous for the Greeks. It provides many of the events that the later poems of the Epic Cycle build on, including the death of the Trojan captain Hector.
Written in dactylic hexameter, the Iliad comprises 15,693 lines of verse. Later ancient Greeks divided it into twenty-four books or scrolls, a convention that has lasted to the present day with little change.
The word Iliad means «pertaining to Ilios» (in Latin, Ilium), the city proper, as opposed to Troy (in Greek, Τροία, Troía; in Latin, Troia, Troiae, f., in Turkish Truva), the state centered around Ilium.
«Ποταμοῖς τοῖς αὐτοῖς ἐμβαίνομέν τε καὶ οὐκ ἐμβαίνομεν, εἶμέν τε καὶ οὐκ εἶμεν.»
«We both step and do not step in the same rivers. We are and are not.»
Heraclitus the Riddler