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YMMV: The Iliad
  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • Some believe Achilles and Patroclus to have been not just best friends, but lovers, which may add another dimension to Achilles' behavior after Patroclus' death. This interpretation is mentioned in Plato's Symposium, making it Older Than Feudalism itself.
    • Achilles' refusal to continue fighting and taking Agamemnon's generous bribe makes a bit more sense when you consider the prophecy that he will die if he fights in the war. Since in the book the Greeks know it is the last year of the war, Achilles knows that every battle he takes part in could be his last, which might explain his rather wild and unhinged personality.
    • Did Helen go with Paris willingly and then get homesick after years of contentedness? Was she abducted and kept as a glorified prisoner for ten years? Or did she just make a really bad lapse in judgment, but was otherwise a decent person? Or did she get date raped by Aphrodite?
    • Likewise did Paris take Helen out of love or out of lust?
    • Is Hector's request to Achilles to give the loser of their duel full burial rites evidence of his honor (despite his attempt to maim Patroclus' body the day before) or is it a desperate plea for mercy because he knows Achilles will kill him?
    • Is Nestor a wise leader who's good council is ignored by the brash youths at war or is he a Manipulative Bastard who's playing the other Greek leaders for the greater good of the greek coalition?
  • Continuity Lock-Out: The story was written at a time when it was assumed you'd know all the continuity already. There are names and names and names and dynasties and political allegiances and many other confusing contexts that are glanced over without much explanation. Find a copy with plenty of annotations or have Wikipedia open next to you, or information overload sets in pretty quick. It's hardly impossible to enjoy it even without knowing every detail, though.
  • Crowning Moment Of Awesome: There are a lot. Listing off a few:
    • The final battle of Achilles vs. Hector.
    • Ajax the Greater vs Hector, it lasts a day and ends in a draw
    • Achilles fighting the River God, who was pissed off because Achilles was choking him with the corpses of Trojans
    • Odysseus chewing out Agamemnon.
    • Diomedes injures two gods, one of whom is Ares, the god of war, in a single day.
    • Patroclus taking the field. He beats back the Trojans and it takes divine intervention to stop him from conquering Troy then and there.
    • Achilles' initial return to battle after the death of Patroclus: his armour is lost, so he can't actually fight. Instead, he climbs up onto the ramparts, and roars his battle cry at the Trojans until they flee in terror.
    • Helen verbally bitch-slapping Aphrodite. The Goddess says she should go to Paris's bed. Her response boils down to "If you think the bed needs filling, why don't you go screw him yourself?"
  • Crowning Moment of Funny: When Hera seduces Zeus to distract him, he describes how attractive she is by comparing her with some of the other women he's slept with. It takes about 20 lines in the original Greek.
  • Crowning Moment of Heartwarming: A few:
    • When Hektor says goodbye to his wife Andromache.
    • When Achilles and Priam mourn their losses.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Hector. Yes he's a better person than Achilles, but people seem to inevitably forget the scene in which he wanted to hang Patroclus' head from the gates and feed his body to the dogs in revenge for Sarpedon, which makes Achilles' treatment of his body less Moral Event Horizon worthy, and more Karmic Vengeance. Numerous other acts of brutality, stupidity and occasional cowardice on his part are inevitably brushed over as well.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Helen/Hector. Helen is/was the queen of Sparta and subtly derides Paris for letting Hector do all the fighting. Hector is a Crazy Awesome warrior who treats her courteously, even though he has every right not to. Since Helen openly wishes that Paris was more like Hector and Andromache is rather flat as a character, you can see where people are coming from.
  • Squick: There are moments. The casual trading off of Briseis as a sex slave is quite nasty (see Values Dissonance).
  • Tear Jerker:
    • Helen speaking to Hector's corpse:
      Helen: Hector, dearest to me of all my husband's brothers! These tears of sorrow that I shed are both for you and for my miserable self. No one is left, in all of Troy, that is gentle or kind to me.
    • Achilles receiving news of Patroclus' death.
    • Everything involving Priam, starting with the death of his sons.
    • While sleep-deprived and in shock after Patroclus's death, Achilles is visited by his ghost. He tries to hug it, and finds he can't.
  • Values Dissonance: Not surprisingly.
    • It is difficult for many modern readers to not instinctively side with the Trojans as a whole and Hector in particular. After all, the values that he embodies are still widely held, and nearly the entire western tradition has considered Hector the more heroic onenote .
    • The mindset of Achilles was more valid back in the Heroic Age of Greek warfare, which glorified individual exploits and honor. It is more alien to most Western cultures today, and even very different than, say, the military discipline of another ancient city-state, Sparta.
    • Modern readers are often surprised to find Helen portrayed as lonely and conflicted (especially with Ancient Greece's misogynist attitude), when she was historically the butt of many insults and jokes about the infidelity of women.
    • The whole concept of a war waged over a woman willingly escaping an arranged marriage may be uncomfortable by today's standards. Of course it seems that Helen is now being kept in Troy against her will.
  • Wangst: Achilles can come off this way to a modern audience.
  • The Woobie:
    • Helen needs a hug.
    • So does Menelaus.
    • Priam. Seriously.

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