Quoting The Classics: 3 of the Best Lines From The Iliad

I want to thank Book Huntress World for tagging me to do the 3 Days, 3 Quotes Tag. I’m supposed to post three quotes on three separate days, but I already did this tag a few months ago, so I thought I’d do something different. This month Pages Unbound is hosting a Classics Event, and I wrote a guest post called What We Can Learn About Modern Warfare From The Iliad. Stop by Pages Unbound on Wednesday to see how I tackled the physical, mental, and political aspects of war and the comparisons I make to The Iliad and the Iraq war. It’s a really good piece and unlike anything I’ve ever written for my blog, so I recommend you take a look on Wednesday to see what you think.

Because I’m so excited about my first guest post, I thought I’d share 3 of the best lines from The Iliad. A loose interpretation of the story was adapted to film back in 2004 and Brad Pitt played Achilles. Since I loved his depiction of Achilles, as well as the other actors characterization of some of my favorite Greek legends, I thought I’d share some pictures from the movie to go along with the quotes.

The major themes of The Iliad are glory and fame, the wrath of Achilles, and the idea of homecoming after war, something we see with Odysseus in Homer’s The Odyssey.

Quote #1 In this quote, Achilles’ mother has told him that if he stays in Troy he will die. In the end, Achilles chooses glory over homecoming.
Achilles and Thetis“Mother tells me,
the immortal goddess Thetis with her glistening feet,
that two fates bear me on to the day of death.
If I hold out here and I lay siege to Troy,
my journey home is gone, but my glory never dies.
If I voyage back to the fatherland I love, my pride, my glory dies…
True, but the life that’s left me will be long…”

Honor is the most important thing to Achilles. He believes that an honorable man would stay in Troy and fight. He wants glory and fame and he has accepted his fate.

Quote #2 and #3 When Hector kills Patroclus, Achilles’ best friend, he falls to his knees, crying over the death of his friend. Patroclus’ death is the real turning point for the story because this fuels Achilles’ need for revenge. It turns him into a heartless killer who will do anything to avenge Patroclus’ death.
Achilles and Patroclus
When Achilles learns of Patroclus’ death, his mother, Thetis, tells him that if he goes after Hector for killing Patrolcus that his death will follow and he says, “Then let me die at once.”

Knowing the death of Patroclus means his death, Hector has dinner with his men and tells them, “The god of war is impartial: he hands out death to the man who hands out death.”

The Greeks mourn the loss of Patroclus all night, a loss that is far too great for Achilles to deal with. The relationship between Patroclus and Achilles is integral to The Iliad and is what moves the story forward. It will rip your heart out and crush into a thousand pieces when you read Achilles’ grief over his friend. Patroclus was sent to live with Achilles and his father, and he made promises to keep him safe. He has broken the promise he made and is ashamed and heartbroken over his death. He doesn’t think he deserves to live and so he fights Hector, knowing he will die.

That act was so moving, at least for me, that I instantly felt connected to Achilles on an emotional level. I’ve mentioned several times that The Iliad is my favorite book. It’s so raw and real you can feel the characters unlike any book I’ve ever read. For those who are familiar with Greek mythology, you will appreciate The Iliad. I’m reading The Song of Achilles, told from Patroclus’ point of view, and I’m so hooked I have no doubt I’ll have finished it by this weekend.
Achilles kills hectorIf you’re interested in reading The Iliad, I recommend the Robert Fagles translation that you can buy by clicking on the book cover that’s linked to Amazon. It’s available on Kindle for $0.99 and in paperback for $13.01 in the US.
The Iliad Book Cover

Make sure you stop by Pages Unbound on Wednesday to see how I compared The Iliad to modern warfare. Have you read The Iliad? What are your thoughts on classic literature?



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26 thoughts on “Quoting The Classics: 3 of the Best Lines From The Iliad

  1. *Love* those quotes. Personally- I’m a sucker for Hector’s story though- the bits that get me most are when Andromache has to say goodbye to him (knowing that he will never return), the moment when he dies (because by turning to run away, he is the opposite of heroic, and shows that he is therefore the most human in the entire story) and when Priam begs Achilles to return his body (Achilles ends up crying- again, it’s one of the most human elements of the story)- all of those parts make me tear up. I also love a lot of the imagery (one of my favourite parts being when Apollo is likened to a child who kicks down the walls of a sandcastle)- but it’s been a while since I’ve read it and I’m too lazy to go in to the other room and pick up my copy to actually quote from it πŸ˜‰ Great post!! I also need to read song of achilles

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    1. I originally had some of the parts with Hector pulled out and I had some with Agamemnon from Book 1, but they were long so I was afraid I’d bore people, but I’m glad I have one fan of The Iliad. πŸ™‚ I agree that’s a real tear jerker. I love that because of divine intervention that the characters know about their fates and still make their decisions, knowing they will die. That’s the one thing I’ve always loved about this book. Oh I love when Priam kisses Achilles hands and begs him for Hector’s body. I added that scene to my post I did for Pages Unbound. For me, that part of the story along with Patroclus’ death is what humanize Achilles. I really love his character. Well, I like all of them. They each add something brilliant to the book. Yeah, Homer’s descriptions really pull you into their world. It’s funny how old it is but we can still relate to it. Oh yeah I love Apollo’s involvement from the plague to helping Paris kill Achilles. You would love The Song of Achilles. The interpretation of The Iliad in the novel is so well thought out it feels like Homer wrote it. Thank you! 😊

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      1. haha you could never bore me by talking about the iliad πŸ˜‰ Ah yes- it’s so incredible. Yes, he’s such a complex and powerful character πŸ™‚ Definitely! Me too- and I love all the myths behind it as well. Awesome- I’m so excited to read it! You’re welcome! πŸ™‚

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        1. I just finished The Song of Achilles and it really did The Iliad justice. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend checking it out. I loved it! I’m posting my review this week. Monday I’m sharing my guest post on The Iliad that I did for Pages Unbound’s Classics Event. I think you’d enjoy it. πŸ™‚

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  2. I really love these quotes. I’ve never read The Illiad, or ever really been tempted to pick it up before, which is weird because I am a massive fan of Greek mythology and will normally pick up any book with even a hint of it in. If anything your post has now convinced me I need to pick up a copy of this and start reading it right away! I do have The Song of Achilles on my to-read list though so maybe I’ll start with that one before The Illiad, see what I think. πŸ™‚
    Great quotes as well! πŸ˜€

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    1. Thanks! 😊 I tried to stick with short quotes with a lot of meaning. That’s actually a good idea. The Song of Achilles so far is pretty spot on and gives you more in depth information about the characters you’ll see in The Iliad. There’s more explanation about where each king is from and all the interesting lineage that you might have to stop and read about with The Iliad. Plus, The Iliad is a poem so that’s another thing that takes some getting used to. The writing is brilliant though and the emotions…Ugh! The Iliad is for me one of the most emotional books I’ve ever read. I think you’d really like both of them if you’re a fan of Greek mythology.

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      1. Well I think you definitely succeeded on that part of it! πŸ™‚ They gave a good taste of what the book will be like to read, if that makes sense, and they certainly made me more interested in picking it up as well.
        Yeah that’s what I thought, I’ve seen some amazing reviews for The Songs of Achilles, and figure that may be easier to get through than jumping straight into The Iliad because there will be more informtaion and backstory, and it won’t be written as a poem I’m guessing?
        Honestly both these books should have been on my to-read list immediately, I’m not sure why they weren’t! πŸ˜€

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        1. If you follow Pages Unbound, you should check out the guest post I wrote. They’re posting it on Wednesday. I talk about a lot of the main themes of the story that help explain some of the central issues. I know for most people they have a hard time reading verse when it’s a story with so much backstory and content. It’s also a bit intimating. I know I was the first time I saw it. The good thing about the Fagles translation is that you get enough information to dive right into the drama. The story is tense from start to finish. I’ve read all positive reviews for The Song of Achilles. I hear it explains the romantic relationship between Achilles and Patroclus that some historians believed to be true, although not specifically noted by Homer. I’m really intrigued to see how their relationship is portrayed because it’s so important to the story. My heart breaks every time with the two of them. I just love it so much. πŸ™‚ I have a feeling it will be the one book that makes me ugly cry. So far only TFIOS has achieved that response from me.

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          1. I will definitely check out that post then! It sounds like it will be something that will help me understand the book when I get around to reading it. I feel like it will also be a book that takes me a while to get through as well, as much as I love Greek mythology I’ve never been a fan of classics so I’d have to see how the two balance themselves out.
            Yeah I’ve heard about that in The Song of Achilles as well, there seems to be a lot of positive reviews for it although I feel the story itself will be heartbreaking because we all know what happens in the original story don’t we?
            For me TFIOS, The Book Thief and All The Light We Cannot See, so not many but a few of the ones that have made EVERYONE cry! πŸ˜€

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            1. Yeah, the post explains a lot of the themes. I didn’t get super detailed since I decided to focus on the war aspect of the novel. Here’s the link if you want to check it out. https://pagesunbound.wordpress.com/2016/07/20/what-we-can-learn-about-modern-warfare-from-the-iliad

              I’m loving The Song of Achilles so much right now. I highly recommend it. You might like reading that first before moving on to The Iliad. I’m at the point where Achilles’ father is about to tell him he has to fight in the Trojan War. I can’t wait to see it all from Patroclus’ point of view. I actually think hearing his thoughts about Achilles is what makes this book so good. Because it’s everything I’ve always thought about him as a character. You really feel the bond between them. I’m going to be a big sobbing mess of tears and tissues toward the end of this book. I have this feeling. And the writing is so good.

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              1. Thank you for the link. I will definitely have to check it out but probably tomorrow because I was actually supposed to go to sleep twenty minutes ago! I never manage to stick to a schedule!
                God you’re making me want to drop everything and pick the book up right now, which I can’t do because I have already done that with the next three I have on my to-read list. Why must there be so many amazing books out there? And why is this something I’m complaining about?
                I’m feeling The Song of Achilles is going to be another book, alongside TFIOS that makes us both cry then! πŸ™‚

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                1. Awesome! I hope you like it. Ha! I never go to sleep on time. I’m the worst. I know there’s way too many good books out there. I have so many books on my Kindle and more I want to buy. I can’t read fast enough. πŸ˜‚ I swear I’m always saying I bought that one and still need to read it. I hope you decide to read The Song of Achilles.

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                  1. The thing is I really should though because I always wake up tired for work, I sleep through my alarm more often than not, and I’m miserable all day, but at night I forget all that and stay up way too late!
                    And so many more still to be released it seems, I’m the same, I can read fast but not fast enough for all the books on my to-read list.
                    I’m planning to start it next month maybe, obviously I need to get a copy first but once it’s on my Kindle then it’s in my immediate queue! πŸ™‚

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  3. What a great post! I love these quotes and am really looking forward to reading The Iliad. I’m trying to hold off until I post my review of The Song of Achilles. Funny thing – I was about 75 pgs into Song of Achilles and then I realized that the movie Troy was based on The Iliad…. good grief, I laughed so hard at that! I can’t believe I forgot all about that, so I wasn’t quite as unfamiliar with the story as I thought. And then after that all I could do was picture Brad Pitt as Achilles for the rest of the book. πŸ™‚
    And wow Song of Achilles really made me like Hector, and with your mentions of him in this post I cannot wait to read The Iliad!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I love The Iliad. I’m about 20% into The Song of Achilles, and if I wasn’t so tired, I’d probably stay up all night and read it. I’m loving this book so much. Finally a book of the month I connect with. Ha! Yeah, Troy was inspired by The Iliad. It’s not exactly the same where you see all the divine intervention in The Iliad and they show more of how the war started, which is cool, but it has some slight differences. I love the movie. I watched it not that long ago. Hector is an awesome character in the book and the movie. I can’t wait until I get to that part of the book. I’m really loving the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus. I have a feeling there will be some ugly crying with this book since I’ve always had such an emotional connection with these characters. Brad Pitt was an excellent Achilles. I had read the book years before the movie came out so I was really impressed that he delivered on that role. I hope you decide to read The Iliad. The writing is brilliant.

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      1. I’m so glad you’re loving The Song of Achilles! The more I think about that book the more I like it. I need to re-watch Troy. I just ordered The Iliad so hopefully will read it in August sometime.

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        1. The Song of Achilles is living up to the original, which I never thought possible, and it’s really surprising me. I’m so hooked. It’s like reading The Iliad over again but with the whole back story between the characters. I hope you love it. If you like our BOTM, I have no doubt you’ll like the original. I’m not sure if you follow Pages Unbound, but they just posted a guest post I wrote about The Iliad if you’re interested. πŸ™‚ I watch Troy at least a few times a year. I really love Brad Pitt as Achilles. Actually, all of their casting choices were excellent.

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          1. Yeah I just read the post. Great post!! The one thing that struck me about Song of Achilles and warfare in general is how many lives are lost because of pride and stubbornness.
            I didn’t actually understand the title reference the “song” of Achilles, but I just happened to catch the beginning of the Iliad and it all makes sense now… I have a feeling I’ll get a whole new understanding to the book once I read The Iliad.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Thank you! 😊 That was the reason I chose to compare it to modern warfare. Working with veterans, my best friend being one of them, as well as most of the men in my family, I see what it’s really like for them when they come home and what they lose. And that was one thing that always stuck me with The Iliad. The characters give their lives for fame and glory because they believe in fate and the will of the gods. There’s so much unnecessary bloodshed in war, and it’s that gritty part of it no one thinks about or maybe they choose to ignore it. Oh it’s called The Song of Achilles because the actual name of The Iliad is Song of Ilium. It’s a great title for the book. But yeah you can see from the opening line why it’s called that. The writing is incredible and Fagles was by far the best classic literature translator. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on it. πŸ™‚

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