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Classics & Ancient History   >   Homer: Iliad

The Homeric Question

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Homer: Iliad

In this course, we explore several aspects of Homer’s Iliad. The course begins with a consideration of one of the most fundamental questions asked of the Homeric epics – the so-called Homeric Question – which asks whether the Iliad was the work of a single poet or many. After that, we examine one of the key episodes of the poem, the Embassy to Achilles, before exploring the concept of heroism in the epic: why is it, we ask, that heroes such as Sarpedon, Hector and Achilles risk life and limb on the battlefield? In the fourth module, we think about characterization in the epic, and in the fifth we focus on the gods in the epic: what are they doing in a poem about the wrath of Achilles, and why are they presented in the way they are? In the final module, we look in more detail at the final two books of the epic, up to an including the final scene of the poem.

The Homeric Question

In this module, we explore one of the most fundamental questions asked of the Homeric epics – was the Iliad the work of a single poet or of many? Indeed, how do we begin to understand the concept of ‘authorship’ in a society where poetry was composed and performed orally, as opposed to being written down?

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Jenkyns, R. (2018, August 15). Homer: Iliad - The Homeric Question [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Jenkyns, R. "Homer: Iliad – The Homeric Question." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,


Prof. Richard Jenkyns

Prof. Richard Jenkyns

University of Oxford