The Iliad Questions and Answers

The Iliad is the most ancient piece of writing known to humanity. It is a window to the world our ancestors lived in and a valuable source of historical facts. Still, many centuries separate us from the Homeric times, and even more centuries lie between the present day and the Trojan War. This undeniable fact complicates our understanding of the epic poem as usual fiction.

Who killed Patroclus? How long is The Iliad? Find here all the answers! This page of The Iliad study guide contains questions and answers about the epic poem. The section by experts provides you with the selection of the most frequently asked questions about the plot, characters, their relationships, and the poem in general. They will help you get ready for an in-class discussion or exam and give a better understanding of what Homer tried to reveal to his future readers.

  1. Who killed Patroclus in The Iliad? 
    In Book 16, Hector kills Patroclus in battle. But it was not clean fighting. Apollo helped to knock Patroclus off his feet, and a young soldier made the first hit. But Hector finished him off, and that is why we consider him to be the murderer. 
  2. How long is The Iliad?
    The Iliad by Homer is an extended narrative that occupies 15,693 lines. In most hardcover editions, one page contains 23 to 25 lines. It makes up approximately 600 pages. If you read the book with a speed of 250 words per minute, you will finish it in ten hours. 
  3. Why does Achilles refuse to fight? 
    Achilles refuses to fight for the Achaeans because Agamemnon, the commander-in-chief, insulted his honor. He took Achilles’ war prize to replace his own. Achilles does not fight for his woman but wishes that the Greeks suffer so that Agamemnon realizes he shouldn’t have started the conflict with Achilles. 
  4. What does Achilles do with Hector’s body in the Iliad?
    On the verge of death, Hector asks Achilles to return his body to his father, Priam. Achilles does not satisfy his last request. His anger is not satisfied, so he drags Hector’s body around the Trojan walls. After Patroclus’ body is burnt on a pyre and his remnants are buried, Achilles continues abusing Hector’s body. Later, he returns it to Priam. 
  5. How does Paris die in The Iliad? 
    In The Iliad, Homer does not mention Paris’ death. But from Greek mythology, we know that he dies of a poisoned arrow. Helen tries to ask Oenone to help (or Paris does so in a different version of the myth). The nymph rejects her request, having been offended by Paris. 
  6. What was Achilles’ reaction to Patroclus’ death? 
    Patroclus was Achilles’ close friend. The news of his death devastated the hero. He mourned beside the body, beating the ground and crying so loudly that Thetis (Achilles’ mother) came to comfort him. Then the grief gives way to anger, and Achilles craves revenge. 
  7. Who kills Hector in The Iliad? 
    In Book 22, Hector killed Patroclus, Achilles’ close comrade. Achilles vowed to revenge for the friend’s death. He found Hector near Trojan walls. Hector tried to reason him, but Achilles was impregnable. He and killed Hector, stabbing him in the throat. Neither did he follow Hector’s request to return his dead body to King Priam. 
  8. How did Helen of Troy die?
    The Greek myths have two versions of Helen’s end of life. The first tells that she returned to Sparta to live with Menelaus until they both die. The second version tells how Helen fled to the Island of Rhodes. There she was hanged by the local queen who sought vengeance. 
  9. How does Patroclus die in The Iliad?
    Patroclus died as a true hero in battle. He killed every Trojan he met on his way and saved the Achaean ships. His intervention made the Trojans retreat and started the end of the fortified city. Zeus predicted Patroclus’ death, and there was no way to change his fate. 
  10. Does Achilles die in The Iliad?
    The Iliad finishes before Achilles is killed. Paris, the Prince of Troy, shoots a poisoned arrow that hits Achilles’ heel. But the epic poem concludes right after Hector’s honorable funeral. The events that entailed the fall of Troy are not part of The Iliad. 
  11. What motivates Achilles in his battle with Hektor?
    Achilles wants to revenge for Patroclus’ death. Hector killed Patroclus and took his armor (which initially pertained to Achilles). Achilles is mourning his close friend and promises not to eat and not bury Patroclus’ body as long as Hector is still alive. 
  12. Which description best characterizes Hector in The Iliad? 
    Hector is a brave leader and mighty warrior. These qualities make him an iconic epic hero in line with Achilles, Odysseus, Great Ajax, and Patroclus. We can find the best description of his character at the end of Book 2, where Homer presents him as the bravest Trojan. In Book 22, he confirms this statement in his last fight with Achilles. 
  13. Who is Hector in The Iliad? 
    The epic hero is the first-born son of the King of Troy, Priam. He is the husband of Andromache and the father of Astyanax, his baby son. Hector is the commander-in-chief of the Trojan forces and the heir of the throne after Priam’s death. 
  14. Who is Menelaus in The Iliad?
    Menelaus, the King of Sparta, had the most beautiful wife in the world, Helen. Paris, the Prince of Troy, stole her and held her captive as a lover in Troy. These events caused the ten-year-long Trojan war that took thousands of lives and entailed the destruction of Troy. 
  15. Who is Priam in The Iliad?
    The last King of Troy was a wise ruler who extended control over Hellespont (ancient name for The Dardanelles). His first wife was Arisbe. Then he married Hecuba. According to Homer’s text, Priam had 50 children from these two women and other concubines. Achilles killed his eldest son, Hector, who he expected to become his successor on the throne. 
  16. Homer’s epic poems, The Iliad and The Odyssey, refer primarily to which period in Greek history?
    The epic poems refer to the beginning of the Archaic period in Ancient Greek history. They were written in the second half of the 8th century BC as a nostalgia for the Mycenaean civilization. In his writing, Homer used historical facts and mythology to create a romanticized version of the past. 
  17. Where does The Iliad take place?
    The Iliad is set in Troy and its outskirts. It was a real city not far from modern Canakkale (Turkey) at the mouth of the Dardanelles. Greeks wiped it away at the end of the Trojan War. Some scenes related to gods take place on Olympus and Mount Ida, where Zeus weighed human destinies on the scales.   
  18. What are some of the values apparent in The Iliad and The Odyssey?
    The main values glorified in The Iliad and The Odyssey are honor, courage, and eloquence. These three qualities were held as the best characteristics a person could have. Besides, they contributed to the heroic code and made up the Homeric character of a warrior. The Odyssey also promotes hospitality, although it is figuratively mentioned in The Iliad as well. 
  19. How does The Iliad end?
    The epic poem ends in a nostalgic and mournful way. The last book is about a father who lost his son and wishes to make an honorable funeral as the last thing he could give him. The book symbolizes the end of any war when sorrow replaces rage. 
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