Aspects of content, culture, social practices and values

Aspects of content, culture, social practices and values

Aspects of Content

  • The Iliad is fundamentally an epic poem about the Trojan War, larger-than-life heroes, divine interventions, and mortal sufferings.
  • At its core is the rage of Achilles, which gets triggered by Agamemnon’s insult and leads to withdrawn participation in the war, until his companion Patroclus’ death.
  • The revenge battle with Hector, subsequent remorse, and the giving up of Hector’s body to King Priam under the direction of the gods make up key content elements.

Cultural Aspects

  • The Iliad encompasses various aspects of Mycenaean and Trojan cultures, including martial honour, aristocratic values, and heroic codes.
  • Mortal achievements, courage, strength, and beauty are revered. Royal births, lineage, and social hierarchy dominate personal worth.
  • Funerary practices and respect for the dead, seen in the elaborate funerals, reflect the cultural importance of death rituals and commemoration.

Social Practices

  • The poem provides insights into social practices of the time, including feasting, warfare, and the treatment of slaves and women.
  • Communications happen through messengers; public speeches are given high importance, and oaths and treaties bear paramount significance.
  • Heroes were expected to excel not just on the battlefield but also in counsel and feasting – they were role models in every aspect.


  • The Iliad projects the ancient Greek value system – where honour and glory (kleos) held utmost significance and were often sought even at the cost of life.
  • Hospitality (xenia), an important societal value, echoes through Priam’s visit to Achilles’ tent and the respect and empathy shown there.
  • Other key values entail obedience to the gods, pursuit of arete (excellence), and contempt for hubris (overbearing pride or arrogance). The punishment of Paris for the violation of xenia and the humbling of Achilles exemplify these.