The Iliad: Top Ten Quotes
The Iliad is sometimes translated into modern English prose, but it some translators try to keep a sense of the metrical structure that the original Greek possessed. A metrical pattern can sometimes be difficult for a modern reader, and there exist various translations of the Iliad that have different metrical, grammatical, and vocabulary structures. Any translation should follow the same plot and character structures, but quotations will look different from translation to translation. Therefore, each quotation will have the book number and approximate line number for reference. Different translations have different spellings for some place names and people names, but they should be similar enough to recognize among any translations.
Invocation and summary of the story of the Illiad:"Sing, goddess, of Achilles ruinous anger
Which brought ten thousand pains to the Achaeans,
And cast the souls of many stalwart heroes
To Hades, and their bodies to the dogs
And birds of prey." Lines 1-5
Zeus, explaining the absolute power of his will to Thetis, the mother of Achilles:"Nothing can be revoked or said in vain
nor unfulfilled if I should nod my head." Lines 526-527
Hector, rebuking his brother for lack of honor:"Paris, you handsome, woman-mad deceiver,
you shouldn't have been born, or killed unmarried.
I wish you had-it would have been far better
Than having you our shame, whom all suspect,
Or having the long-haired Acheans laugh
When you appear as champion-champion beauty-
But have no strength, nor character, nor courage." Lines 40-45
Hector, saying farewell to his wife:"No man, against my fate, sends me to Hades'
And as for fate, I'm sure no man escapes it,
Neither a good nor bad man, once he's born." Lines 487-489
Achilles, questioning the motives for the Trojan war as Odysseus tries to bring him back to the fighting:"But why must the Argives fight
the Trojans? Why did Atreus' son assemble
and bring us? Wasn't it for Helen's sake?
Are Atreus' sons the only men who love their wives?" Lines 336-340
Patroclus, asking Achilles for permission to join the fighting:'"Give me your armor to put on your shoulders;
The Trojans might suppose I was you,
Hold back, and give the Acheans' sons a breather,
For breathing spells in war are very few.
Then, with a shout, fresh men might easily
Turn tired men from the ships toward the city."
So, like a fool he begged; for it would be
An evil death and doom for himself he asked.' Lines 40-47
Achilles' remorse for his hand in Patroclus death:"I sat by the ships, a useless burden,
though there are better in Assembly-
so may this strife of men and gods be done with." Lines 104-107
Achilles, as he kills Hector:"No more entreating, dog, by knees or parents.
I only wish my fury would compel me
To cut away your flesh and eat it raw
For what you've done. No one can keep the dogs
Off of your head, not if they brought me ransom
Of ten or twenty times as much, or more." Lines 345-350
Priam, King of Troy, begging for Hector's body:"'Honor the gods, Achilles; pity him.
Think of your father; I'm more pitiful;
I've suffered what no other mortal has,
I've kissed the hand of one who killed my children.'
He spoke, and stirred Achilles' grief to tears;
He gently pushed the old man's hand away.
They both remembered; Priam wept for Hector,
Sitting crouched before Achilles' feet.
Achilles mourned his father, then again
Patroculs, and their mourning stirred the house." Lines 503-513
Achilles: "Don't be angry, Patroclus, if you learn-
even though you're in Hades-I gave Hector back
to his father for a worthy ransom
But I shall give a proper share to you." Lines 592-596