Preamble Notes from The Iliad

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The Iliad Preamble

The conflict which becomes the Iliad actually begins a generation before the siege of Troy. During the Age of Heroes, one of the first boats ever braves the Aegean sea. On this voyage, Fate decrees the pairing of the mortal Peleus and the immortal Thetis, the parents if Achilles. At the marriage banquet of this pair, the goddess Discord throws out a golden apple inscribed with the words "To the fairest." Three goddesses rise to claim this title: Athena, the goddess of wisdom, Hera the Queen of the gods and Aphrodite, the goddess of love. After a great deal of debate, the three decide to let a mortal man decide. They go the Paris, a prince of Troy. Each goddess offers the youth a bribe in return for a vote in her favor. Hera offers Paris a great kingdom and the promise of a lordship over many men. Athena offers him infinite wisdom and an equal amount of influence over men. Aphrodite offers him the love of the most beautiful woman in the world.

Helen a daughter of Zeus, is at this time the most beautiful woman in the world, so beautiful in fact, that she has an entire squadron of suitors who swore to avenge and protect her. After Paris chooses Aphrodite as the fairest, she helps him steal Helen from the home of her husband, Menelaus, who is also the brother of the most powerful king in Greece, Agamemnon. The two brothers hold all the suitors, also kings of their own states, to their old pledge to protect Helen and rally a great army to retrieve her. This army sails for Troy and besieges it for nine years.

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