Iliad Summary and Analysis

Books 21-24

Buy Study Guide

Book 21:

Summary:

Achilles single-handedly splits the Trojan forces, driving one half towards the city and one half into the river. Hera sends a mist to confuse and slow the retreat of the men going back towards the city. Achilles follows the Trojans into the river, hacking them to pieces with his sword. He comes upon Lycaon, a son of Priam. On a previous encounter, Achilles captured Lycaon and sold him into slavery. At great price, Lycaon was bought back and returned to his family. He has been back home only twelve days. Now, he is at Achilles' mercy once again. He begs for his life, but Achilles tells him that only while Patroclus was alive did he have the desire to spare Trojan life. Patroclus, a better man than Lycaon, died, and Achilles himself will die, so Lycaon must accept his fate. Lycaon resists no more, and Achilles kills him. He gloats over the body, promising that all Trojans will die horribly in payment for Patroclus' death.

Xanthus, the river god, is angered by Achilles' pitiless slaughter of the Trojan men. He helps Asteropaeus, a Paeonian ally of the Trojans, to wound Achilles, but Achilles still kills the man. Achilles goes on slaughtering more Paeonians, who are struck down as they flee from him in terror. Xanthus protests, telling Achilles to stop glutting his waters with corpses. The dead bodies are so numerous that the river cannot run a clean course into the sea. Achilles replies to Xanthus (called Scamander by mortals) that he will obey, but not now: first, he will kill Trojans until they are driven back into the city and Hector has fallen. Achilles goes down into the waters again, and the river attacks him. The corpses are thrown onto shore, the living are held in the water and protected, and Achilles is attacked by mighty waves. Achilles tries to flee over the plain, but the waters follow him and continue to try to drown him. Achilles cries out to Zeus in anguished prayer, believing that he will be denied glory and die drowned like a child, and Athena and Poseidon come to his aid. They assure him that they stand by him, and that Xanthus will be stopped. They instruct him to drive the Trojans back into the city and kill Hector, after which he must return to his encampment. Athena gives Achilles speed to outrun the river water. Xanthus calls on Simois, another water god, to help him. Hera, fearing for Achilles, calls on Hephaestus to combat Xanthus. Hephaestus is the god of fire, and he unleashes terrible flames against the river. The corpses left on the plain by Achilles burn, the plants burst into flame, and the animals in the river begin to die. Xanthus gives up his attack, but the waters themselves begin to boil. Hera calls Hephaestus off only when Xanthus promises not to do anything more to help the Trojans.

The other gods are incited by the clash between Xanthus and Hephaestus, and they fight. Ares attacks Athena, hoping to pay her back for the incident when she helped Diomedes to wound him, but Athena blocks his blow and downs him with a boulder. Aphrodite tries to carry Ares away to safety, but Athena, encouraged by Hera, knocks Aphrodite down with a mighty punch to the breasts. Poseidon taunts Apollow, reminding him of how they were both abused by Laomedon, Priam's father. And yet Apollo fights for Troy. Apollo refuses to fight Poseidon, too modest to try to fight against his father's mighty brother. Apollo's sister Artemis scolds him, accusing him of cowardice, and Hera attacks her for her insolence. She holds Artemis' wrists in one hand and boxes Artemis' ears with her own bow. Hermes refuses to fight with Leto, who gathers up the scattered arrows and bow of Artemis, her daughter, and goes to comfort her daughter. Crying, Artemis has fled all the way back to Olympus, where her father Zeus laughs as he comforts her.

Apollo goes to Troy, anxious that he might need to prevent the Achaeans from taking the city before it is fated. The other gods return to Olympus. Amidst the towers of Troy, Priam watches the routing of his army. He orders that the gates be held open until everyone can get inside, after which they must close the gates quickly lest Achilles get inside the city. Apollo drives courage into the heart of Agenor, son of Antenor, and Agenor resolves, after some indecision, to try to stop Achilles. Agenor throws his spear and hits Achilles in the leg, although the weapon does not penetrate Achilles' armor. Apollo then spirits Agenor away to protect the man from certain death. Apollo takes the form of Agenor, taunting Achilles and luring him away from the city gates. In this way, Apollo buys the Trojans enough time to get safely within the city walls.

Analysis:

With the death of Patroclus, any compassion Achilles once had is now gone, destroyed by grief and rage. His attacks against the Trojans are unnecessarily brutal and pitiless; the carnage angers Xanthus, whose waters become filled with dead bodies. His denial of Lycaon's pleas for mercy is one of the Iliad's most frightening passages. Achilles' words are cold, inhuman. As many other Trojans before him have hoped, Lycaon hopes that his family's wealth will be able to save him, but Achilles is past the point when life can be spared. In the Fagles translation, Lycaon speaks of Patroclus as "your strong, gentle friend," with emphasis added to "gentle," as if Lycaon is trying to remind Achilles of the compassion that distinguished Patroclus among men. Rather than honor his friend's memory by remembering his compassion, Achilles allows any shred of gentleness in him to die with Patroclus. Achilles treats these human lives more lightly than the gods do, and he is as mortal as the men he kills. We are reminded of his mortality when he nearly dies an undignified death at the hands of Xanthus, the river god. Suddenly, he is vulnerable again, but once freed by Hephaestus' fire, Achilles returns to the slaughter.

The battles between the gods are comic in tone, with the exception of the clash between Xanthus and Hephaestus. Athena punches Aphrodite in the breasts; Hera smacks Artemis around with her own bow. Homer presents these battles lightly because the gods have nothing at stake when they fight. Only men can have dignity in battle because men can die. The wounds of the gods heal quickly, and nothing can kill them. With nothing to lose, their clashes can never be noble. There can be no sacrifice or martyrdom or true courage; their invulnerability disqualifies them from a claim to human dignity.

With the death of their champion approaching, we see the Trojans behaving nobly. Priam watches the battle with concern, ordering that the gates remain open until everyone is inside, even though he risks that Achilles might the city. Agenor, though terrified of Achilles, stands and fights a battle he cannot seriously think he has a real chance of winning. His courage, along with Apollo's deception, buys the city of Troy a little more time.

Book 22:

Summary:

Hector remains outside of the Scaean gates, barring the way into Troy. Apollo reveals himself as a god to Achilles, letting Achilles know that he has been deceived so that more Trojans could escape his wrath. Achilles is furious, but he cannot harm the god. He turns toward Troy. Priam, watching from the ramparts, moans with grief. He calls out to Hector, begging him to come inside. Many of Priam's sons have already died at Achilles' hands. But Hector will not move. He is afraid to face Achilles, but he is also afraid to face Polydamas, who gave him good advice that was not heeded. He thinks it its better to face Achilles and kill or be killed than to return inside after having made a decision that cost so many lives. Yet as Achilles approaches, Hector loses his nerve and runs, and Achilles chases him around the city walls. Zeus asks if the gods should save Hector, who has been loyal and faithful to the gods. Athena responds as Hera did when Zeus wondered if he should save Sarpedon, and Zeus is won over by his daughter's arguments.

Achilles chases Hector around the outside of the wall, blocking his way back into the city. He motions to the Achaeans to fire no arrows or spears at Hector, lest Achilles be robbed of glory. After Achilles has chased Hector for three laps around the city of Troy, Athena stops Achilles and tells him that she will bring Hector around to face him. Putting his trust in the goddess, Achilles stops running. Athena approaches Hector, taking the shape of his brother Deiphobus, and she entreats him to turn around and face Achilles. Believing that his brother has come outside the wall to help him fight Achilles, Hector takes heart and does as Athena asks. He calls out to Achilles, asking him to swear an oath with him that the winner, after stripping the armor of the vanquished, will not desecrate the body. Achilles replies memorably that there are no vows between lambs and wolves, nor between men and lions. He throws his spear and misses, but Athena brings it back to him. Hector talks on, speaking of how much better the war will be for his people if he kills Achilles. Hector throws his spear, and it lands in Achilles shield and remains there, stuck. He calls on Deiphobus for another spear, but when he looks around, Deiphobus is gone. Hector realizes the truth. Athena has duped him in order to bring him around into a fight he cannot win. He draws his sword and charges at Achilles, who charges at Hector wielding his great spear. Achilles drives the spear through Hector's neck. Dying, Hector begs him to treat his body respectfully, but Achilles responds unequivocally and brutally. Nothing will persuade him to give Hector's body proper treatment. He wishes that he had the heart to eat Hector's raw flesh himself. Hector has a moment of foresight, and he warns Achilles of the day when Paris and Apollo will kill Achilles. His soul goes down to the land of the dead, and Achilles vaunts more over his body: "Die: and I will take my own death at whatever time / Zeus and the rest of the immortals choose to accomplish it" (22.365-6).

Achilles strips away Hector's armor, and the Achaeans run up around the corpse, men taking turns stabbing the body. Achilles pierces Hector's feet, in the space between heel and ankle, and draws a leather strap through the hole. He lashed Hector behind his chariot, so that Hector's head drags in the dust, and he then rides around the city of Troy. Hecuba and Priam, Hector's parents, look on in horror, wailing and pulling out their hair. The people watching from the ramparts all cry out in sorrow. Weaving down in her quarters, Andromache hears the sounds of mourning and knows what has happened. She runs to the top of the walls and sees her husband's stripped corpse being dragged behind Achilles chariot. She swoons, and when she recovers she speaks, weeping, of her son's fate. Without a father, his future is uncertain. And Hector himself will be horribly desecrated in his own land. She speaks weeping, and the women join her in mourning.

Analysis:

Hector's pride makes him stay outside the Scaean gates. Some commentators characterize Hector as a selfless defender of his people and Achilles as a brutal killing machine. Although this characterization has some basis in truth, the decision to remain outside the Scaean gates complicates that reading. Although it is true that when speaking to Achilles Hector thinks of how much better the war will go for his people if Achilles could be killed, Hector did not remain outside the gates with that goal foremost in his mind. His decision to remain outside the gates is not the best one for his people; Priam begs him not to face Achilles alone, lest the Trojans lose their champion. Here, once again, Hector is partly motivated by the fear of seeming a fool or a coward. He would rather face Achilles and die than face the scorn of his men; he has boasted before now that he would defeat Achilles when finally they met. His pride makes him more afraid of being called a coward than he is afraid of facing Achilles. This pride, it must be remembered, is part of what makes him great. It has made this civilized man, a man best-suited for peacetime, commit acts of great valor. He is a civilized man, and a brave one, with a great love for his people; he also allows his pride to cloud his judgment. Pride leads to his death, but it has also made him a hero.

And yet when he faces Achilles the Achaean champion is so fearsome that Hector cannot hold his ground. The outcome of the fight is never in doubt. The duel is actually very brief. Achilles easily overcomes Hector, slaying him with a glee that shows the depth of his rage and grief.

In Book 1, when Achilles is arguing with Agamemnon, he tells the king that the Trojans, whom he slays at the king's command, have done him no wrong. By the time he returns to the fighting, he can no longer make that claim. The death of Patroclus has ensured that his life will end in sorrow and bitterness, and he pursues Hector with single-minded purpose. It might seem that Hector has been a hapless victim of the gods. Remember that Hector killed Patroclus at the urgings of Apollo, and Apollo then made it possible for Hector to do it. Achilles has a score to settle with Hector, but it is a score that came about partly through divine intervention. And yet Hector is not a mere pawn of fate. A mixture of pride, the desire to win glory, and divine intervention doom Hector. Athena prevents his escape by duping him; when he realizes that he has been tricked by a deity, he knows that his time is running out. But the event that has lead to Achilles wrath, the death of Patroclus, came about ultimately by his choice. Apollo did not appear as a god and command Hector to attack Patroclus: the god took human form and persuaded him, using Hector's lust for glory as the bait.

Hector's desire to swear an oath of respect for the body of the vanquished is ironic. It rings hollow, because after the death of Patroclus Hector fought desperately to desecrate the Achaean hero's body. But one evil does not excuse another. Just as Hector comes off badly gloating over the body of Patroclus and then trying desperately to desecrate it, Achilles comes off badly in his excessive revenge. Homer creates still more sympathy for Hector by having his parents and wife helplessly watch the desecration of his corpse. His son Astyanax has an uncertain future, and the child becomes a symbol for the terrible fate of Troy itself. Troy has no future, and the vulnerability of Hector's infant son recalls Agamemnon's promise that even the unborn will know no mercy.

Achilles' hatred is dehumanizing and self-destructive. His wish that he had the stomach to eat Hector's raw flesh is nothing less than a desire to become animal, destroying everything human about himself. His slaughter of the Trojans has been excessively brutal, and the compassion of his beloved companion has been forgotten. His brutal treatment of Hector is both figuratively and literally self-destructive, because his own death will follow. Homer emphasizes the self-destructiveness of Achilles' action by creating symmetry between Achilles and Hector. Achilles mistreats the hero he has vanquished, just as Hector did. The Trojan hero's dying words predict Achilles' death at the hands of Paris (Paris, of all people) and Phoebus Apollo, in the same way that the dying Patroclus promised Hector that he would die at the hands of Achilles.

Achilles' treatment of Hector is self-destructive, physically and spiritually, and Homer drives home the point symbolically. Hector is wearing Achilles' original armor, the armor Achilles gave to Patroclus, which after Patroclus' death was taken from him. Before, the armor was used to make Patroclus into Achilles' mirror image, to such an extent that he was mistaken for Achilles and drove the Trojans into a rout. Here, Hector becomes another mirror image of Achilles. Considering the armor, the imagery of Hector's slaying becomes even more unsettling. Achilles is killing a likeness of himself.

Book 23:

Summary:

While the Trojans grieve, the Achaeans pull back to their ships. The Achaeans all go back to their ships except for the Myrmidons, who, at Achilles' command, mourn Patroclus. The men weep together, with Achilles leading the lamentation. Achilles sets out a funeral feast, slaughtering oxen, sheep, and goats. The chieftains persuade Achilles to go to Agamemnon, but they are unable to convince him to wash away the blood and sweat of the day's battle. He will not bathe until he has cremated and buried Patroclus, and then cut his own hair in mourning. The Achaeans feast.

Achilles finally falls asleep by the sea, weary from the day's hard fighting. As he dreams, Patroclus' ghost comes to him to ask him to bury his body. As long as the body is unburied, Patroclus' spirit wanders outside of Hades' kingdom, unable to cross the river and join the other spirits. Patroclus also reminds Achilles that he, too, will soon die. He asks only that their ashes be put together, in the same urn, so their bodies can mingle together just as they grew up together from boyhood, ever since the day that Patroclus came, as an exile, to stay in the house of Achilles' father. Achilles promises to obey him, and asks him if they can embrace, to share their sorrow together, but when he reaches out to hold Patroclus the spirit disappears like vapor.

The next day, the Achaeans build a great pyre for Patroclus' cremation. The body is covered with locks of hair, cut from the men's heads as a symbol of mourning. Achilles has one long lock, grown long to cut for the river Spercheus upon Achilles' safe return home. Since he knows he will not return home, he cuts the lock for Patroclus. Achilles asks Agamemnon to order the men to disperse. He wants only the chieftains, the men closest to Patroclus, to concern themselves with the actual work of dealing with the body. Achilles sacrifices sheep, cattle, goats, dogs, and twelve captured Trojan youths.

Although Achilles has left Hector's body for the dogs, Aphrodite stays by the corpse and keeps the animals away from it. She has anointed the body with rosy immortal oil, so that Achilles abuse of the body will not tear the flesh. Apollo uses mist to protect the body from the sun.

Achilles cannot light the pyre until he remembers to pray to Boreas and Zephyrus, the north and west winds. Iris relays his prayer to the winds, and they help to spread the flame. All day and night, Achilles stays by the pyre, mourning and drenching the ground with offerings of wine. As dawn comes, he collapses, but the chieftains wake him. He instructs Agamemnon to have the flame put out with wine. They will put Patroclus' ashes in a golden urn and build a small funeral mound, to be expanded into a great mound after the war when the Achaeans have more time. Once his instructions are carried out, Achilles hosts funeral games in memory of his friend. He offers prizes out of his own goods, not participating in the competition but observing and supervising the games. Diomedes wins the chariot race, Epeus wins in boxing, Ajax and Odysseus tie in wrestling, Odysseus (with Athena's help) wins the footrace, Ajax and Diomedes tie in combat, Polypoetes wins the discus event, Meriones wins in archery, and Agamemnon wins the spear throw (because of his status as king). All receive great prizes out of Achilles own goods.

Analysis:

The appearance of Patroclus' ghost offers little in the way of a comforting view of the afterlife. All through the Iliad, Homer depicts the afterlife as grim and bleak. There is no glorious heaven; instead, the shades of men, good and bad alike, go down to the dark, windy world of Hades. The ghost provides Achilles little comfort. When Achilles tries to embrace him, he finds to his sorrow that there is no body for him to embrace. Tremendous importance is ascribed to the treatment of the body, and the spirits share this concern: the ghost of Patroclus makes a special request about the disposal of his remains. The ghost hopes that his remains and the remains of his beloved companion will be mingled together, just as the two men were inseparable during life. Significantly, Patroclus seems more comforted by the idea of their remains being placed together than he is by the prospect of Achilles meeting him in the land of the dead. Hades is not something to look forward to. It is not a place of torture and atonement, like the Christian hell, but it is also not a place of eternal joy and celebration, like Christian heaven. Life, for the Greeks, is the greatest gift. The life of mortals is more glorious than any afterlife could hope to be.

Note the moment when Achilles cuts the lock of hair he had been growing for the river Spercheus. Instead of giving the lock to the river on his safe return, he gives the lock to his friend. This gift symbolizes the choice Achilles has made. He has killed Hector to avenge Patroclus, knowing that the price will be his own life.

Achilles hosts the elaborate funeral games to honor the memory of his friend. The Greeks placed great importance on commemorating the deaths of their heroes and loved ones, and here Achilles glorifies Patroclus' name with a lavish funeral. We see a very different side of Achilles here. He is civilized, a great and gracious host. He supervises the games well, interceding diplomatically when disputes arise during the chariot race, giving lavish prizes as promised and then giving still more. His behavior here complicates the view of Achilles as brutal killing machine; he is no savage, but instead proves himself here to be a man of refinement and generosity. After the brutality of the previous fighting, we are allowed to see Achilles as he is during times of peace. Even his treatment of Agamemnon is generous, as he awards the king first prize in the spear throw in deference to the king's status.

Book 24:

Summary:

Achilles continues to mourn for Patroclus, lying awake at night and filling time comfort by heaping abuse on Hector's body. Only Apollo's intervention protects the corpse from damage. His treatment of Hector's corpse distresses all of the gods, with the exceptions of Poseidon, Hera, and Athena. Hera and Athena still hate Troy for the day that Paris chose Aphrodite over them in a beauty contest of the goddesses. At Apollo's urging, Zeus sends Iris to summon Thetis. He tells Thetis to go to her son and give him Zeus's instructions: he is to accept Priam's ransom, returning the body of Hector so that the Trojans can give Hector a proper burial. When Thetis goes to her son and gives him the order, Achilles agrees to do as Zeus asks. Zeus sends Iris to tell Priam to go to Achilles. He is to bring only one herald, and Hermes himself will escort them safely into Achilles' presence. Iris finds Priam in deep mourning, wailing and covered with filth. She delivers Zeus's message. Although Hecuba does not want him to go, Priam is determined to try to win back Hector's body. He prepares the ransom, verbally abusing his remaining sons as they help him to get ready. Before he goes, Hecuba asks him to perform proper rituals to Zeus for a safe return, and he does as she asks. Zeus sends a favorable omen, and the old man sets off with his herald late in the evening. As they cross the plain, the god Hermes joins them. He is disguised as a Myrmidon, and he promises that Priam will arrive safely. Along the way, Hermes puts the sentries to sleep so that they can reach Achilles' encampment. Hermes reveals his true identity as Priam is about to enter Achilles' dwelling, but he leaves Priam to meet with Achilles alone.

As Priam enters, Achilles and his men, Automedon and Alcimus, look at the old man with surprise and wonder; Achilles was not expecting Priam himself to arrive. The aged king takes the suppliant position before Achilles, asking him to remember his own father. Of Priam's fifty sons, many have been lost in battle‹many of them slain by Achilles. The best of them was Hector, and Achilles has killed him. He asks Achilles to take pity on him, because the old man must kneel and put his lips to the hands of the man who has killed his children. Achilles thinks of his own father, and the grief his father will feel when Achilles does not return home. He understands now the suffering that he has caused, and he weeps, now for his father, now for Patroclus. He asks Priam to stay with him so that they can share their sorrows, which Priam initially refuses. Achilles grows angry, and Priam, frightened, agrees to do as he asks. Achilles has Hector's body prepared and wrapped, and Priam's gifts are moved into Achilles' possession. The two men eat together, and then they look on each other with awe and respect. Finally, the exhausted old king asks if Achilles can provide a bed for him to sleep in. He has not eaten or slept since the death of Hector. Achilles provides a bed, and he asks how long Priam needs to mourn his son. Priam asks for eleven days of peace to mourn and bury Hector; on the twelfth day, they will return to the fighting. Achilles promises that the Achaeans will not attack for eleven days. Priam and his herald sleep in beds on the porch of Achilles' dwelling, but in the middle of the night Hermes wakes the old man, warning him of the danger of the other Achaean chieftains finding him. Fearful, Priam returns to Troy with Hector's body.

There the people mourn. Andromache, Hecuba, and Helen give speeches praising Hector and mourning his passing. Nine days they mourn, men gathering timber for Hector's funeral pyre all the while. On the tenth day they cremate him. On the eleventh day, they bury his remains, watchful of the Achaeans the whole time, and then they gather to honor Hector with a funeral feast. The Iliad ends with the simple, understated line, "Such was their burial of Hector, breaker of horses."

Analysis:

Homer finally mentions the cause of Athena's and Hera's intense hatred for Troy. Paris chose Aphrodite in a beauty contest between the three goddesses because Aphrodite bribed him with the gift of Helen. The motive is incredibly petty in comparison to the scale of suffering shown so far in the poem. Homer mentions the event casually and for the first time; his audience would have been familiar with the myth, but Homer's placement is too suggestive to be accidental. The motives of deities are, at best, as jealous and petty as the motives of mortal men. We have previously been treated to a comic battle between the gods, and now the motives of two of the greatest Greek goddess have been made to look petty and ridiculous compared to the scale of sacrifice and anguish we have seen. The gods represent the forces of the universe, but the incredible pettiness of their jealousies suggests that humans live in a universe that is often capricious and unjustly cruel.

Achilles' transformation is the true climax of the Iliad. Finally, there is an end to his rage. Looking on Priam, Achilles is able to make the great leap of empathy. He sees his own father in the old king, and he suddenly understands the anguish that he has caused for the old man and others like him, a mourning father for every man that he has killed. The revelation drives him into weeping, for what he has done and what he has lost. At last, Achilles has moved from rage to compassion. No longer is he cut off from humanity, waiting by the ships as his friends die in agony, or wishing for the hunger of an animal as he stands over a brutally slain victim. His sorrow now is deeper and more humane, far less selfish and self-absorbed than it has ever been in the past. In understanding what he has taken from Priam, Achilles comes to a deeper understanding of what he himself has lost. This movement of spirit is the central story of the Iliad, and it distinguishes Achilles as the only character who experiences a transformative change in his understanding of himself and his world. He is still short-tempered: we see this trait when he threatens Priam, and again when he fears that if he is provoked he may lose control and abuse the rights of the suppliant. But in the ways that count most, Achilles is a changed man. He grants the mercy that he previously denied, and the interaction between Achilles and Priam becomes sacred. For a brief moment amidst the brutality of war, the two men create a sublime space for peace, trust, and mutual recognition of the enemy's humanity. When Hermes warns Priam that he will be in danger if Agamemnon finds him in the Achaean encampment, the hard facts of war are unwelcome and intrusive. By now, the audience knows that Achilles will do Priam no harm. The old man sleeps peacefully and without fear while the most terrifying of the Achaean warriors sleeps only a short distance away. But Agamemnon and the other Achaeans are in a different world; they have not been privy to this new understanding that Achilles has gained. The contrast makes Agamemnon and the others seem grotesquely detached from the important scene that we have just witnessed, and the truth of Hermes' warning feels like the violation of something sacred.

By closing with the burial of Hector, Homer leaves us with a feeling of great loss. Hector has his glory: is body is finally given the respect it deserves, and he dies beloved and praised by his people. But we also know that his people are doomed, and that the cease-fire granted by Achilles is only a postponement of the inevitable. Although its citizens have been loyal to the gods, the city of Troy will perish, and the Achaeans will deal with her people brutally. At times, Homer glorifies aspects of war, depicting its power to call out the best of his heroes. Under the conditions of warfare, men find previously unknown sources of courage, sacrifice, and loyalty. But Homer finishes the Iliad with a funeral for a great man, attended by his ill-fated people, and the tone is overwhelmingly one of sorrow. Significantly, the last glimpses of both the Achaeans and the Trojans show both groups in mourning, and the very last moments of the poem depict the doomed Trojans rather than the victorious Achaeans. Our last memory of the Iliad is of this doomed people, who have already lost so much and now must mourn their champion. And still, even after all that the Trojans have endured, we know that the worst of their suffering is yet to come.