Summary Homer, Iliad by Alessandro Baricco

Homer, Iliad by Alessandro Baricco: book description of the novel with summary of the plot and description of the characters. What’s the book about


  1. Homer, Iliad, by Alessandro Baricco
  2. Homer, Iliad, plot
  3. Homer, Iliad: characters
  4. The hearing on the Iliad


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Homer, Iliade, by Alessandro Baricco – Source: Getty-Images

Homer’s Iliad is a book of contemporary Italian writer Alessandro Baricco , prose that tells the facts narrated in the ‘ Iliad of Homer .

The epic poem written by Homer takes on a new light through its narration: we see here the summary of the plot and the description of the characters.


Silk by Alessandro Baricco: plot and explanation




Paris is in love with the beautiful Helen, wife of Menelaus , he kidnaps her and takes her with him to Troy. Menelaus, offended, declares war on the Trojans supported by his brother Agamemnon, king of the Achaeans, who periodically plunder the nearby cities.

Nine years have passed since the beginning of the siege of Troy, and the Achaeans need supplies. They look for them in Thebes, where Agamemnon sees a girl, Chriseis, and takes her with him to make her his slave. Chryses, father of Chriseis and priest of Apollo, goes to Agamemnon to request his daughter back, but Agamemnon throws him away badly: he causes the wrath of the gods, who take their revenge with a terrible pestilence in the Achaean camp.

Agamemnon asks Calcante, a famous soothsayer. It is he who declares that the cause of this pestilence is the kidnapping of Chriseis, and that only his restitution will be able to appease the gods. But Agamemnon refuses: a quarrel ensues with Achilles, which ends with the request to take with him Briseis, Achilles’ slave and part of his booty, in order to return Chriseis to his father.

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The warriors’ confidence in Agamemnon fades after the injustice reserved for Achilles, the strongest and most valiant among the Achaean warriors. Thersites , one of the warriors too, speaks to Agamemnon on behalf of several of his companions, but is beaten. Agamemnon, however, gives the warriors a reason to fight: the hope of a return home.

The army therefore advances while the enemies lined up go towards it. Paris , son of Priam, advanced in front of everyone challenging the Achaean princes, until Menelaus showed himself, who made him flee. Hector , a Trojan hero, talks to him and Paris decides to challenge Menelaus in a duel: the winner would have obtained Elena and all her riches.

The day of the duel Elena is in her rooms, when a daughter of Priam goes to call her and explains what is happening. She then runs to the Sheeian gates where Priam asks her for information on all the Achaean princes, her enemies.

Then they call the king of Troy, who has the task of making peace. When everything is done Priam asks to return to the city so as not to see his son fight against Menelaus. The duel ends with Menelaus who is about to give the coup de grace to Paris, but the latter manages to escape and find himself in Elena’s rooms, which is granted to the one whom everyone now considers a coward.

Summary of Homer, Iliad, by Alessandro Baricco – Source: Istock

Pàndaro , another Trojan warrior, treacherously hits Menelaus with his arrow. It wounds him, while the Trojans continue to advance taking advantage of the moment of confusion of the Achaeans. The situation is reversed in favor of the latter when Diomedes, son of Tideo, goes into battle .

Hector listens to the advice of Elenus, Priam’s son, who goes to town to ask his mother to pray to Athena for her support. before returning to battle Ettore goes home but does not find his wife and son, discovering that they have run to the Scee gates fearing for him. Ettore runs to meet them, finding them in tears, and here he can bid farewell to his wife Andromache and his son Astianatte. Both return to the house and mourn the man, whose fate they already predict.


Proem of the Iliad: text, paraphrase, plot and analysis


Hector fights, then challenges the Achaean princes, who fear him. Finally it’s up to Ajax Telamon, with whom he fights until the sun goes down, taking his leave and exchanging precious gifts.

After toasting, Nestor proposes to the Achaean princes to build a wall around the ships, but no one welcomes that idea. The next morning a Trojan embassy arrives offering the Achaeans Helen’s wealth and other gifts in addition to compensate them for the betrayal, but the Achaeans refuse. A day of respite is established to collect the fallen and burn the bodies according to custom. On the same day the Achaeans finally build a high wall around the ships as Nestor had advised.

The following day the battle begins again, but this time it is the Trojans who reach under the wall built by the Achaeans: when evening arrives it is the first time that Hector has not brought his army back inside the walls.

One day, five men go to Achilles’ tent. They are the most dear to the hero, sent by Agamemnon to ask Achilles to return to battle by offering him splendid gifts. But he refuses.

The old Phoenix tries to convince him, but to no avail. The five men, however, manage to bring to Agamemnon the news that Achilles will go into battle only when Hector reaches his ships and not those of the Achaeans.

That night Agamemnon fails to sleep and goes to Nestor to decide what to do, then they go to call Ulysses and finally Diomede. They sit in a clearing and decide who will go to the Trojan camp to understand the enemy’s strategy.

Ulysses and Diomedes offer themselves and leave immediately. On the way, they catch a Trojan soldier, Dolon , who is trying to spy on the Achaeans, capture him, obtain information from him – such as the fact that the Thracian camp is the unprotected part of the enemy camp – and finally they kill, offering it as a sacrifice to Athena.

Diomedes then kills all twelve Thracians in the tent along with Reso, king allied to the Trojans. Ulysses takes the horses and the king’s carriage and they run away to the Achaean ships. First, however, they take the body of the slain soldier and hoist it onto the stern of the ship as a gift for Athena.

In the following days the Achaeans lose many men, and many others are injured: Agamemnon, Ulysses Macaone.

Patroclus is sent by Achilles to ask how Machaon is and Nestor is surprised to learn that Achilles is interested in the fate of the Achaeans. Additionally, Patroclus asks Achilles for his weapons to wear in battle to scare away the Trojans.

The war continues and the Trojans attack the wall with Sarpedon . Meanwhile, Ettore too, throwing an enormous pointed stone, unhinges one of the doors. The Trojans are now crossing the wall on all sides. The Achaeans don’t know whether to run away or keep fighting, but they decide to continue. The Trojans do the same too, with Hector at the head.

The Achaeans revive, Ajax hits Hector.


Iliad, clash between Achilles and Agamemnon: plot, paraphrase and analysis of the characters


Achilles gives Patroclus his weapons, making him promise that he will not really fight. But this taken by the fury of the battle begins to fight, killing heroes and valiant men including Sarpedon.

Suddenly a spear hits him in the center of the back: it is Euphorbo, who then runs away, leaving Hector to finish him off. Before dying he says that the gods killed him first, then Euphorbus and then Hector, and he predicts his death at the hands of Achilles.

Hector accepts his fate, and wears the weapons that once belonged to the glorious Achilles. The two armies fight over Patroclus’ body to try to get hold of it. They then send Antilochus to inform Achilles of Patroclus’ death. Achilles decides to return to battle with his new armor and Agamemnon gives him great gifts, including Briseis.

In battle he clashes with Aeneas, protected by the gods, and who in fact manages to escape by fleeing.

The terrified Trojans throw themselves into the river to seek safety, but Achilles kills them. All the Trojan survivors take refuge in the city except one: Hector.


Iliad, the redemption of Hector’s body


Achilles approaches Hector, who runs away. The two run around the walls three times until Deiforbo, Ettore’s brother, leaves the city and joins Hector giving him the courage to face Achilles.

But when the real duel began, Deiforbo escapes. Achilles sticks his sword in a spot uncovered by the armor, where the neck rests on the shoulder. By now Hector at the end of his life begs him not to leave his body to the beasts, but Achilles ties the enemy to the chariot and drags him all around the walls of Troy. The father and mother fall to the ground in pain.

One evening Priam decides to go to Achille to ask for the body of his son in exchange for splendid gifts. He manages to arouse Achilles pity by comparing himself to his father.

Long after these events, a man who arrived shipwrecked in the land of the Phaeacians, at a banquet in his honor will be moved by listening to a storyteller named Demodocus narrate the deeds of the warriors who fought in the Trojan War and of a man who with his ingenuity designed a wooden horse that gave victory to the Achaeans against the Trojans. That man of so much talent who is now moved by a storyteller is Ulysses.



Let’s briefly see the description of the characters that appear in the text:

  • Criseide: daughter of Crise, she is kidnapped by Agamemnon after the destruction of Thebes, and her kidnapping causes the plague epidemic among the Achaeans
  • Chryses: father of Chriseis, priest of Apollo
  • Agamemnon: leader of the Achaean army, son of Atreus, leads the Achaeans
  • Achilles: the bravest and strongest of the Achaean warriors, son of Peleus, according to legend he is an immortal and invincible warrior except for his heel, his weak point.
  • Calcante: the most famous of the soothsayers, he had predicted the calamity that would befall the Achaeans if Agamemnon had not returned Chriseis.
  • Thersites: lame and ugly warrior, tries to talk to Agamemnon to convince him to return Achilles’ slave.
  • Hector: son of Priam, husband of Andromache and father of Astianatte, the strongest Trojan warrior, killed by Achilles in a duel.
  • Menelaus: Helen’s husband, one of the best Achaean warriors, brother of Agamemnon, son of Atreus.
  • Elena: Wife of Menelaus but kidnapped by Paris and taken to Troy.
  • Paris: Priam’s son, Elena’s kidnapper and lover. He does not fight except in a clash with Menelaus during which he escapes.
  • Priam: king of Troy, father of many children including Hector and Paris.
  • Ulysses: very cunning warrior, he is the creator of the wooden horse.
  • Pandaro: Treacherously hits Menelaus with one of his arrows after the clash between him and Paris. Originally from Zelea, son of Lycaon, skilled with bow and arrows.
  • Aeneas: son of Anchises, hero at the head of the Danaans.
  • The nurse: takes care of the little Astianatte, and personally witnesses the meeting between Hector and Andromache before the man leaves for the war.
  • Astianatte: son of Hector and Andromache, much loved son. Mainly cared for by the nurse. He will be launched from the walls of Troy by Pyrrhus, son of Achilles, in order not to continue the descendants of Hector.
  • Andromache: wife of Hector, sister of five brothers all killed by Achilles together with their father, the mother died of a sudden illness.
  • Nestor: the oldest of all Achaeans and the most loved and listened to sage.
  • Ajax Telamon: very strong warrior, one of the best in the field among the Achaeans.
  • Diomede: son of Tideo; Achaean warrior who together with Ulysses steals the horses of Reso, king allied to the Trojans, and kills Resus himself and twelve Thracians.
  • Dolone: son of Eumedes, warrior and Achaean spy, killed by Ulysses and Diomedes as they go to the Trojan camp to steal Reso’s horses and kill him.
  • Patroclus: friend and alleged lover of Achilles, killed by Hector while wearing his friend’s weapons; Menezio’s son, expelled from his hometown following the killing of a boy, he moved with his father to Ftia where he met Achille.
  • Sarpedon: Trojan commander, opens a breach in the defensive wall of the enemies, pierced and killed by a spear of Achilles held by Patroclus.
  • Phoenix: Elder Achaean commander, a kind of teacher for other warriors.
  • Euphorbus: Young and handsome Trojan warrior, he hits Patroclus with his spear for second before Hector’s coup de grace. He is killed by Menelaus when he attempts to take Patroclus’ body.
  • Antilochus: one of Nestor’s sons, who ran away from home five years after his father’s departure for the war and landed on the shores of Troy. He introduces himself to Achilles who admires his courage and agrees to have him fight alongside him. He reports the death of Patroclus to Achilles.
  • Hecuba: wife of Priam and mother of Hector, Paris, Cassandra and sixteen other children.
  • Demodocus: storyteller near the island of the Phaeacians where Ulysses is shipwrecked. During a banquet, singing the exploits of the warriors in the Trojan war, he makes Ulysses move and reveals his identity.
  • Cassandra: daughter of Priam and Ecuba, destined to have premonitions and to always tell the truth but never to be believed, as at the entrance of the wooden horse she tries to warn her father, but without success.
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