Deaths in the Iliad: a Classics Infographic

As requested: buy this as a poster in the UK! Or buy this as a poster in the US!

NEW: go here to find out exactly how useless Paris is!

 

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EDITED: this got viewed about 250,000 times before anyone noticed that, on the first graph, I’d accidentally put Hektor’s book 22 death (the only one) in the book 21 column. Good spot! 

ALSO EDITED: there should also have been one more ‘death in the dark’ attributed to Diomedes as Rhesus is indeed additional to the other twelve Thracians, not included as in Johnston’s list and in my own reading when I checked it. ALSO I’ve made reference to the fact that Patroclus kills, in a blink-and-miss-it reference, 27 un-named Trojans just before Hektor kills him. Aside from the 12 Thracians under Rhesus (Book 10), and the 12 Trojan princes slaughtered by Achilles over the pyre of Patroclus, these are the only unnamed kills. It is most likely that the reference is simply there for emphasis of Patroclus’ aristeia (BADASS emphasis!), and could even have been added later. It doubles his stats, but in a throwaway and almost meaningless manner, and these deaths are sometimes left off lists of deaths in the Iliad. Kudos to Max Ehrenfreund for the request.


Here’s a clickable link to Ian Johnston’s work on the Iliad: a lovely translation that’s perfect for first-time readers, a list of the speeches (invaluable to students), and of course the list of deaths which formed the basis of this Infographic along with my own research.

You can buy his Iliad translation, as paperback or Ebook. It’s available on Amazon but I know he’ll get an actually-decent cut of the cost if you buy it direct from Lulu: http://www.lulu.com/gb/en/shop/homer/the-iliad-translated-by-ian-johnston/paperback/product-2351622.html
(He’s done the Odyssey too!)

My illustrated Odyssey, books 5,6,7,9,10 and 12 (UK GCSE set books) is available to buy and download instantly at https://gumroad.com/l/rxrdj or you can licence a class set and get discounts and free posters here! 

 

99 thoughts on “Deaths in the Iliad: a Classics Infographic

  1. Outstanding work. It does occur to me, though, that if you don’t read Greek, you won’t know who the particular warriors are in the “Stand-out Performances in Battle” section.

    Really great stuff, though.

      • Good choice! I had my head tilted to the left sounding out the letters and trying to remember what chi and xi looked like. Wouldn’t have been as much fun transliterated.

      • Great Stuff, I love stats, however the “Stand-out Performances in Battle” is Greek to me(sorry I couldn’t pass it up) would you be able to provide the names in here?

      • Oh, ok then 😉
        Everyone else look away…

        From left to right:
        Patroclus (Achilles’ best friend and kinsman), Achilles (about whose anger the Iliad is composed)
        Diomedes (the best warrior after Achilles), Agamemnon (the ‘acquisitive’ supposed leader, just because his kingdom is bigger than everyone else’s)
        Teukros (or Teucer, Mr Hide-Behind-Brother’s-Shield), Paris (‘Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful’ Prince of Troy, aka the one who’s meant to have started it all)

        Hope that helps!

      • That’s a fine attitude in a classrooom, but on a blog you can’t assume that everyone reads Greek, or even knows the letters of the Greek alphabet.

      • Well, I don’t (I’m a state school Classicist), but I still put the effort in. Thanks for the advice, but I do this because I’m interested in getting others interested in Classics, and teaching isn’t about giving students everything on a plate.
        Besides, you can mostly work it out from the English names under the graphs 😉

    • The letters are similar enough that you can sort of read them anyway, and when that doesn’t work you can just look at the graph and match the numbers.

  2. Exactly.
    The Illiad and other greeks myths are so, so far away of nowadays stories like, ahem “300”.
    In the Illiad, no matter, for the audience, who are the ennemies and who are the good ones. Both of them are people with their own problems, their own virtues. Both are doing evil and good things. In one myth Odysseus is the hero, in another one is the main opponent.

    ps: just one little detail. I hate that word, “badass”. It sounds like a teenager.

    • Hi Thatsall. I really agree: there are no ‘goodies’ or ‘baddies’, and only very occasionally does the author directly suggest whether the audience should like or dislike a character – and that is almost always for their honourable or dishonourable traits, rather than the side they are on. (When you read the Aeneid however it is all about the evil Greeks 😉 )
      On your other comment: actually, ‘300’ is based on the graphic novel that is based on the accounts of the actual battle of Thermopylae by the ‘Father of History’ Herodotus. Like Homer, he was not present at the battle, and used previous sources for his own account. However, unlike Homer, he was at least born within the same century as the events he described, so his sources were ‘fresher’ and probably more reliable. Homer however was thought to be composing in c. 850BC, while the Trojan War apparently happened a good 500 or so years earlier, and was reliant on oral narratives having been passed down that time. So, aside from the visual embellishments of the (gorgeous!) style of the graphic novel, and the further embellishments of Hollywood, 300 should actually be…more realistic?!

      PS: of course ‘badass’ sounds teenage – I made this for my teenage students! In any case, read Patroclus’ artistes a and tell me what other word to use aside from badass! He is in fact older than Achilles (not at all younger as the film version likes to make out), and the reason given (in the Iliad at least) for his living among Achilles’ people is that he *accidentally* killed a playmate as a child and is in exile! Yet, he doesn’t have the type of immortal parentage as Achilles has to make him otherwise stand out, and we never see him doing anything but cooking Achilles’ dinner for most of the Iliad, which makes us think of him as weaker and subordinate, despite the probability that he is just as experienced in war as Achilles (even the healers and the old men fight, so why shouldn’t he have been fighting too?) Yet, he still has a longer kill-run, despite not being part-divine, and has to be stopped and put down by a god and Hektor (and some other dude who cowardly takes a stab at his back after Apollo has disarmed him). So, yes. BADASS. 🙂

  3. Except for that little episode with Odysseus (it was totally Odysseus’ fault!) Diomedes does the best job of combining valor and honor of the lot of them.

    • I totally agree. He’s really the epitome of Homeric hero (as per this infographic: http://greekmythcomix.com/comic/what-makes-a-homeric-hero/) but I disqualified him from first prize for his sleeping-in-the-dark kills. That said, even Odysseus’ ‘kill from behind’ was justified, so he’s pretty honourable too, just not as badass when it comes to killing as his speciality is thinking. However, my students are always a bit taken aback when I tell them Odysseus is supposed to have thrown Hektor and Andromache’s child Astyanax from the battlements of Troy during the final invasion. His class epithet is now, perhaps unfairly, “baby-killing Odysseus” 😉

    • Diomedes and Odysseus spot Rhesus on the midst of the band of Thracians: ” came presently to the company of Thracian soldiers, who were sleeping, tired out with their day’s toil; their goodly armour was lying on the ground beside them all orderly in three rows, and each man had his yoke of horses beside him. Rhesus was sleeping in the middle.” As they are sleeping in three “orderly” rows, and then Diomedes “set upon the Thracian soldiers till he had killed twelve”, I am inclined to count him as one of the twelve, as does Ian Johnston. So, 13 including Dolon (as per your later comment which I can’t link this to.) I’m on holiday so I can’t check my spreadsheets to see whether I’ve made Dio’s kills block high enough though.

      • Homer explicitly refers to Rhesus as the thirteenth Thracian killed in line 495. τὸν τρισκαιδέκατον μελιηδέα θυμὸν ἀπηύρα ἀσθμαίνοντα

        I don’t want to imply that I don’t appreciate the chart: on the contrary, I love it. Anything that makes the classics more accessible to our modern minds is great, and you do it very well.

  4. Thanks to everyone who has commented for such kind words! I’m on holiday right now but I’ve been asked to make this into a poster, so will do when I get back.
    Be sure to check out the archive for more myth comix!
    Jenks.

  5. Absolutely fantastic …. I refer often to the Iliad in my novels – in the 1860s Homer was still read, admired and quoted before being replaced by the equally as pithy current day Homer. Your blog is just wonderful, much needed today and hopefully much appreciated.

    • O Hercle! You’re right! I counted him but I think I somehow then put him in 21 when I was counting from my spreadsheet to put on my graph (see disclaimer for my medical excuse for being rubbish with numbers). Good spot – 1 in 250,000 views! You would win a prize…if I had any! 🙂
      I’ll swap over the ‘block’ representing him when I get home. Thanks!

  6. Brilliant. Thank you (from a UK state school classicist). Do your students know how lucky they are.
    Why don’t your non-Greek readers on here simply download a list of Greek characters matched to English letters (a number of sites do that) and sort out the names themselves. It is easier than a quick crossword, given there’s so few names. And more fun.

  7. Thanks! For grimmest death, the one that made me shudder is Thestor’s by Patroclus:

    Next he sprang on Thestor son of Enops, who was sitting all huddled up in his chariot, for he had lost his head and the reins had been torn out of his hands. Patroclus went up to him and drove a spear into his right jaw; he thus hooked him by the teeth and the spear pulled him over the rim of his car, as one who sits at the end of some jutting rock and draws a strong fish out of the sea with a hook and a line- even so with his spear did he pull Thestor all gaping from his chariot; he then threw him down on his face and he died while falling.

  8. This is lovely, and I’ve had lots of students send it to me. I have one correction and a suggestion for you: you make reference in your “edited” note to “the only unnamed kills” but you’ve missed 12 unnamed deaths in Book 18 around line 230, where Achilles puts on Athena’s aegis and goes to the trench and shouts, scaring the Trojans into such confusion that they trample each other in retreat. Surely those should count in Achilles’ total the same way you added in a note on the extra 27 for Patroclus! Also I would totally include one of the impalements (e.g. 13.569) amid the gruesome deaths, since Homer explicitly says it’s “most painful” there. Or the one where Achilles stabs someone’s liver out and it falls in their lap (20.469f.).

    • hi Clara,

      Thanks for that, Clara! The gruesome deaths are really the opinion of my classes – I’ve taught it for about eight years and I always mark the ones that get the best reaction. Each to their own – you’d be surprised how sometimes its the less obviously-gory ones that caprture their imagination. My favourite is the eyes falling on the ground – I think this is biologically impossible, but it reminds me of old cartoons when the characters are surprised, so I get a brilliant visual each time I hear it.
      On the other matter, those 12 unnamed deaths aren’t directly Achilles’ kills in the same way the 27 are Patroclus’, so I didn’t include them. I still think those sudden 27 are a later addition anyway, but again, that’s my opinion 😉

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