Homer's Iliad epic poem.
The poem dates to the archaic period of Classical Antiquity. Scholarly consensus mostly places it in the 8th century BC, although some favour a 7th century date.
Herodotus placed Homer at approximately 400 years before his own time, circa 850 BC.
The historical backdrop of the poem is the time of the Bronze Age collapse, in the early 12th century BC.
Homer is thus separated from his subject matter by about 400 years, the period known as the Greek Dark Ages. Intense scholarly debate has surrounded the question of which portions of the poem preserve genuine traditions from the Mycenaean period.
The Catalogue of Ships in particular has the striking feature that its geography does not portray Greece in the Iron Age, the time of Homer, but as it was before the Dorian invasion.
The title Ἰλιάς "Ilias" (genitive Ἰλιάδος "Iliados") is elliptic for ἡ ποίησις Ἰλιάς "he poiesis Ilias", meaning "the Trojan poem". Ἰλιάς, "of Troy", is the specifically feminine adjective form from Ἴλιον, "Troy"; the masculine adjective form would be Ἰλιακός or Ἴλιος.
It is used by Herodotus (Hist. 2.116).
The Venetus A, created in the 10th century AD, is the oldest existing manuscript of Homer's Iliad. The editio princeps dates to 1488, printed by Demetrius Chalcondyles in Florence.
In antiquity, the Greeks applied the Iliad and the Odyssey as the bases of pedagogy. Literature was central to the educational-cultural function of the itinerant rhapsode, who composed consistent epic poems from memory and improvisation, and disseminated them, via song and chant, in his travels and at the Panathenaic
Festival of athletics, music, poetics, and sacrifice, celebrating Athena’s birthday.
Originally, Classical scholars treated the Iliad and the Odyssey as written poetry, and Homer as a writer, yet, by the 1920s, Milman Parry (1902–1935) had launched a movement claiming otherwise.
His investigation of the oral Homeric style—"stock epithets" and "reiteration" (words, phrases, stanzas)—established that these formulae were artifacts of oral tradition easily applied to an hexametric line.
A two-word stock epithet (e.g. "resourceful Odysseus:) reiteration may complement a character name by filling a half-line, thus, freeing the poet to compose a half-line of "original" formulaic text to complete his meaning. In Yugoslavia, Parry and his assistant, Albert Lord (1912–1991), studied the oral-formulaic composition of Serbian oral poetry, yielding the Parry/Lord thesis that established oral tradition studies, later developed by Eric Havelock, Marshall McLuhan, Walter Ong, et al.
In The Singer of Tales (1960), Lord presents likenesses between the tragedies of the Greek Patroclus, in the Iliad, and of the Sumerian Enkidu, in the Epic of Gilgamesh, and claims to refute, with "careful analysis of the repetition of thematic patterns", that the Patroclus storyline upsets Homer's established compositional formulae of "wrath, bride-stealing, and rescue"; thus, stock-phrase reiteration does not restrict his originality in fitting story to rhyme.
Likewise, in The Arming Motif, Prof. James Armstrong reports that the poem’s formulae yield richer meaning because the "arming motif" diction—describing Achilles, Agamemnon, Paris, and Patroclus—serves to "heighten the importance of ... an impressive moment", thus, "[reiteration] creates an atmosphere of smoothness", wherein, Homer distinguishes Patroclus from Achilles, and foreshadows the former's death with positive and negative turns of phrase.
In the Iliad, occasional syntactic inconsistency may be an oral tradition effect—for example, Aphrodite is "laughter-loving", despite being painfully wounded by Diomedes (Book V, 375); and the divine representations may mix Mycenaean and Greek Dark Age (ca. 1150–800 BC) mythologies, parallelling the hereditary basileis nobles (lower social rank rulers) with minor Olympic gods, such as Scamander, et al.
The Iliad (sometimes referred to as the Song of Ilion or Song of Ilium) is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer.
Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy (Ilium) by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles.
Although the story covers only a few weeks in the final year of the war, the Iliad mentions or alludes to many of the Greek legends about the siege; the earlier events, such as the gathering of warriors for the siege, the cause of the war, and related concerns tend to appear near the beginning.
Then the epic narrative takes up events prophesied for the future, such as Achilles' looming death and the sack of Troy, prefigured and alluded to more and more vividly, so that when it reaches an end, the poem has told a more or less complete tale of the Trojan War.
Along with the Odyssey, also attributed to Homer, the Iliad is among the oldest extant works of Western literature, and its written version is usually dated to around the eighth century BC.
The Iliad contains 15,693 lines, and is written in Homeric Greek, a literary amalgam of Ionic Greek and other dialects.
source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iliad