From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The Iliad is, together with the Odyssey, one of two ancient Greek epic poems traditionally attributed to Homer. The poem is commonly dated to the 8th or 7th century BC, and many scholars believe it is the oldest extant work of literature in the Greek language, making it the first work of European literature. The existence of a single author for the poems is disputed as the poems themselves show evidence of a long oral tradition and hence, multiple authors.
The poem concerns events during the tenth and final year in the siege of the city of Ilion, or Troy, by the Greeks (See Trojan War). The word Iliad means "pertaining to Ilion" (in Latin, Ilium), the city proper, as opposed to Troy (in Greek, Τροία, Troía; in Latin, Troia), the state centered around Ilium, over which Priam reigned. The names Ilium and Troy are often used interchangeably.
The Iliad in the arts and literature
Subjects from the Trojan War were a favourite among ancient Greek dramatists. Aeschylus' trilogy, the Oresteia, comprising Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, and The Eumenides, follows the story of Agamemnon after his return from the war.
Robert Browning's poem Development discusses his childhood introduction to the matter of the Iliad and his delight in the epic, as well as contemporary debates about its authorship.
William Shakespeare used the plot of the Iliad as source material for his play Troilus and Cressida, but focused on a medieval legend, the love story of Troilus, son of King Priam of Troy, and Cressida, daughter of the Trojan soothsayer Calchas. The play, often considered to be a comedy, reverses traditional views on events of the Trojan War and depicts Achilles as a coward, Ajax as a dull, unthinking mercenary, etc.
Christa Wolf's 1983 novel Kassandra is a critical engagement with the stuff of the Iliad. Wolf's narrator is Cassandra, whose thoughts we hear at the moment just before her murder by Clytemnestra in Sparta. Wolf's narrator presents a feminist's view of the war, and of war in general. Cassandra's story is accompanied by four essays which Wolf delivered as the Frankfurter Poetik-Vorlesungen. The essays present Wolf's concerns as a writer and rewriter of this canonical story and show the genesis of the novel through Wolf's own readings and in a trip she took to Greece.
A loose film adaptation of the Iliad, Troy, was released in 2004, starring Brad Pitt as Achilles, Orlando Bloom as Paris, Eric Bana as Hector, Sean Bean as Odysseus and Brian Cox as Agamemnon. It was directed by German-born Wolfgang Petersen. The movie only loosely resembles the Homeric version, with the supernatural elements of the story were deliberately expunged, except for one scene that includes Achilles' sea nymph mother, Thetis (although her supernatural nature is never specifically stated, and she is aged as though human).
Alesana's "The Third Temptation of Paris" is based on the theft of Helen and the subsequent consequences.