Iliad is a powerful, beautiful, and awe-inspiring work of ancient Greece. It combines the horridness of war into an epic poem filled with art, illustrious descriptions, and a myriad of wonderful literary images. It's a tale of a few days' fighting in the tenth year of the Trojan War, which had been occasioned by an offence given to Menelaus, the Greek King of Sparta, by the Trojan Prince, Paris (also called Alexandros). Paris aided by the goddess Aphrodite, whom he had judged the winner of a beauty contest over the goddess Athene and Hera, had stolen Menelaus's wife, Helen. In order to recover Helen, Menelaus's brother, Agamemnon, the powerful king of Mykenai, had gathered a large force that included many prominent Greek warriors, themselves either princes or kings, and sailed across the Aegean to win back Helen and humble the great fortress-city of King Priam. After ten years of stalemate, the gods themselves became closely involved in the war down below, as King Agamemnon offended first of all Apollo and then his own greatest warrior Achiles, whose mother was the sea-goddess Thetis and who was able to enlist the support of Zeus himself to restore her son's honour. That proved to be a costly affair, which led to the death not only of Hector the Trojan leader, but also, first, of Achilles' companion Patroclus. It is with these events, varied, tragic, and profound, that the Iliad is concerned.
The poem begins with the poet calling on the Muse to sing of the wrath of Achiles and its consequence. Apollo's priest Chryses comes to the Achaian camp and asks to ransom back his daughter Chryseis, who has been captured. Agamemnon sends him rudely away, and Chryses prays to Apollo to punish the Greeks, which Apollo does by sending a plague upon them. The plague claims many lives, and a counsel is held to determine how to stop it. Through the advice of a seer, the Greeks agree that the return of Chryses is the only way to appease the anger of Apollo and stop the plague from taking even more lives.