Characters in The Iliad – Introduction
The Iliad follows Achilles as he decides that he will no longer fight in the Trojan War after he is insulted by his fellow soldier, Agamemnon. With his pride damaged, he holds out his amazing battle skills, causing the Achaeans to nearly lose the war.
However, at the last minute he sends his dear friend Patroclus to fight wearing his armor. The disguise does not work, and Patroclus is killed. At this point, Achilles returns to war with fresh new armor created for him by the gods to kill his opposition, Hector, and lead the Achaeans to victory in the Trojan War. This tale is narrated by the author himself, Homer.
The Iliad Main Characters
Who are the main characters in the Iliad by Homer?
- Protagonist – Achilles
- Antagonist – Hector
- Narrator – Homer
The Iliad Character Traits – The Achaeans
The story’s protagonist. He is the son of a military man, Peleus and the sea-nymph, Thetis. He is the most powerful warrior alive at the time. However, his pride is easily wounded as he is exceptionally headstrong and easily offended.
The leader of the Achaean army. When he demands that Achilles hand over his war prize, a young woman named Briseis, Achilles is deeply offended and leaves the army. Agamemnon is arrogant and selfish and his actions trigger a series of defeats against the Achaeans by the Trojans when Achilles leaves the military.
Achilles’s beloved friend and advisor. He wears Achilles’s special armor and goes into battle disguised as Achilles to try and intimidate the Trojans. When he is killed, Achilles is devastated.
A strong and clever Achaean warrior.
A young Achaean commander.
The second most powerful Achaean warrior after Achilles. He is large and strong and is able to wound Hector in battle.
A fighting partner to Great Ajax. He is small and swift in battle.
King of Pylos and Achaean commander in the war. He is a wise military advisor.
King of Sparta and brother to Agamemnon. When his wife, Helen, is abducted by the Trojans, this sparks the beginning of the Trojan war nearly a decade earlier than the events of this poem.
King of Crete and Achaean commander.
A healer in the Achaean military.
A soothsayer who foresees a plague that will affect the Achaean army.
Achilles’s father. He is the grandson of Zeus and is an important figure to Achilles but does not actually appear in the poem’s action.
An elderly warrior who helped to raise Achilles.
The Iliad Character Traits – The Trojans
The mightiest warrior in the Trojan army. He is a family man at heart who resents having to risk making his son fatherless if he does not survive the war. He resents his brother, Paris, for starting the war by abducting Helen.
King of Troy.
Queen of Troy.
Hector’s selfish brother who abducts Helen and starts the Trojan War. He tends to avoid fighting in battle whenever he can and is therefore held in contempt by many of the other characters.
The kidnapped wife of Menelaus. She despises her role in starting such a lengthy and deadly war.
Son of Aphrodite and Trojan nobility. He is a strong warrior.
Hector’s wife. She begs him not to fight in the war, but he knows he must.
Hector and Andromache’s son.
A young Trojan commander.
A powerful Trojan warrior.
A Trojan warrior who goes up against Achilles in battle.
A Trojan spy.
A Trojan archer who breaks the truce between the Achaeans and the Trojans.
A Trojan nobleman who tries to argue that Helen should be returned to Menelaus to end the war.
Son of Zeus.
Daughter of Chryses and captive of the Achaean army. When her father demands her return, Agamemnon is unhappy and demands that Achilles give him his war prize, Briseis.
Achilles’s war prize, a captive of the Achaean army.
The Iliad Character Traits – The Gods
King of the gods. He tends to side with the Trojans for much of the poem’s battles.
Queen of the gods and Zeus’s wife. She hates the Trojans and works against them.
Goddess of wisdom and daughter of Zeus.
Achilles’s mother. A sea-nypmh who helps her son punish the Achaeans when he is insulted by Agamemnon.
Son of Zeus. He supports the Trojans.
Daughter of Zeus and goddess of love. She supports the Trojans.
Brother of Zeus and god of the sea. He supports the Achaeans.
Husband to Aphrodite. God of fire and supporter of Achilles in his quest for new armor.
Daughter of Zeus and goddess of the hunt. She supports the Trojans.
God of war, supporter of the Trojans.
The messenger of the gods.