Primary Source

Homer’s The Iliad


Homer's The Iliad is an ancient greek poem written around the eighth century. The poem is set during the Trojan war and highlights the conflict between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles. The text provided is an excerpt from book three.

This source is a part of the Diversity and Change in Greco-Roman Religious Beliefs teaching module.

Homer, The Iliad, c. 8th century BCE.


Menelaus then drew back his long-shadowed spear,
and hurled it. It hit the son of Priam’s shield,
a perfect circle. The heavy spear pierced through it,
went straight through the fine body armour, through the shirt
which covered Alexander’s naked flesh.
But Paris twisted to the side, evading a black fate. [360]
Pulling out his silver-studded sword, the son of Atreus 400
raised it and struck the crest of Paris’s helmet.
But the sword shattered into three or four pieces,
falling from his hand. The son of Atreus, in vexation,
looked up into wide heaven, crying out:

“Father Zeus,
what god brings us more trouble than you do?
I thought I was paying Alexander
for his wickedness, but now my sword
has shattered in my fist, while from my hand
my spear has flown in vain. I haven’t hit him.”

As Menelaus said these words, he sprang forward, 410
grabbing the horse hair crest on Paris’s helmet,
twisting him around. He began dragging Paris off,
back in the direction of well-armed Achaeans. [370]
The fine leather strap stretched round Paris’s soft neck,
right below his chin, was strangling him to death.
At that point Menelaus would have hauled back Paris
and won unending fame, if Aphrodite, Zeus’s daughter,
had not had sharp eyes. Her force broke the ox-hide strap,
leaving Menelaus clutching in his massive hands
an empty helmet. Whipping it around, Menelaus 420
hurled the helmet in among well-armed Achaeans.
His loyal companions retrieved it. He charged back,
with his bronze spear, intent on killing Alexander.
But Aphrodite had snatched Paris up—for a god [380]
an easy feat—concealed him in a heavy mist,
and placed him in his own sweetly scented bedroom.

How to Cite This Source
Homer’s The Iliad in World History Commons,