Nestor, the aged king of Pylos, is one of the most elaborately conceived characters in the Iliad. He has not only a consistent set of ideas, but a consistent way of talking. He is forever long-winded and rambling. His characterization is due largely to his age: he is the oldest of the warriors at Troy. His wayward speeches are the product of a mind not quite as quick as it used to be, and also filled with a bit of blustery memory to pad the way. Yet he always has a point to make, and his age is not ridiculed. His experience gives him the justification to draw forth moral examples. That these examples come mostly from his own life shows a kind of fond respect for him on the part of Homer. Though no longer able to fight the way he used to, he is eager to aid the cause in whatever way he can.


Odysseus, king of Ithaca, is seen in many ways as the counterpart to Achilleus. He is the hero of the other epic by Homer, the Odyssey. Where Achilleus is passionate, Odysseus is resourceful. Achilleus is often seen as archaic man, the idealist, while Odysseus is viewed as modern man, the pragmatic survivor. In the Iliad he seems to have the quickest mind of all and is able to interrupt arguments with just the right measure of understanding and criticism. He always tries to keep things in order so that the matter at hand — the battle for Troycan move forward. He is a great fighter and can be ruthless as well as tricky. He is also a true friend, the kind that does not mince words but tells you honestly (but with tact) what is the matter.

Patroklos (Patroclus)

Companion to Achilleus and son of Menoitios, Patroklos is the most sympathetic character in the Iliad. He is shown more often in friendship than in battle, and he is spoken of in the kindest terms by Achilleus and Briseis, both of whom he befriended. Though faithful to Achilleus, he can’t endure the sight of his comrades being slaughtered, and if he can’t rouse Achilleus to fight, he begs to be able to fight in Achilleus’ place. The enormity of Achilleus’ affection for him and the funeral rites held for his sake make him seem particularly noble.