The Argument – Iliad Book 1, lines 91-187

In a council, Achilles and Agamemnon argue about their prizes, young women captured in raids.

One aspect of Homer that makes him easier to tackle than Attic Greek is his repetition. Of course, the Homeric epics were originally recited or sang, and were only written down later. Repetition helped the ancient bards as much as it helps the modern student. A notable form of repetition is the frequent use of the same epithets:

ποδας ωκυς Αχιλλευς – swift footed Achilles (lines 84, 148)

ευρυ κρειων Αγαμεμνον – wide ruling Agamemenon (line 102)

μητιετα Ζευς – counselor Zeus (line 175)

There’s lots of other repetition in the Iliad: short phrases, long phrases, whole lines, even entire paragraphs. Of course there are a lot of words that only appear once, twice, or a few times in all of Homer’s works; they are a real challenge. How does one learn a language where a word such as δασμος, “distribution,” only appears once (on line 166)? It’s related to other words, but in this form, we only meet it once. And there are a lot of those.