Death and Dying in "The Iliad" - Battlefield Losses in Homer's Trojan War

The Iliad, the Greek poet Homer's 8th century B.C.E. epic about the last few weeks of the Trojan War, is full of death. Two hundred forty battlefield deaths are described in The Iliad, 188 Trojans, and 52 Greeks.

Wounds are inflicted on almost every part of the anatomy, and the only field surgery described consists of bandaging and tying a sling around an injured limb to support it, bathing a wound in warm water, and applying external herbal painkillers.

No two death scenes are exactly alike in the Iliad, but a pattern is apparent. The most common elements are 1) the attack when a weapon strikes a victim causing a fatal injury, 2) a description of the victim, and 3) a description of the death.

Some of the deaths include movement of the combatants on the battlefield and a verbal challenge, and in some cases, there may be a follow-up boast over the corpse or an attempt to strip off the victim's armor.

Metaphors of Death

Homer uses metaphorical language indicating that the victim has died, along with a comment on the psyche or thymos departing from the corpse. The metaphor is almost always darkness or black night covering the victim's eyes or blackness taking, loosening or pouring over the dying man.

The death throes can be brief or expanded, they sometimes include grisly detail, imagery, and a brief biography or obituary. The victim is often compared to a tree or animal.

Only three warriors have dying words in The Iliad: Patroclus to Hector, warning him that Achilles will be his slayer; Hector to Achilles, warning him that Paris aided by Phoebus Apollo will slay him; and Sarpedon to Glaucus, reminding him to go and get the Lycian leaders to avenge his death.

List of Deaths in The Iliad

In this list of deaths in The Iliad appear the name of the killer, his affiliation (using the simplified terms Greek and Trojan), the victim, his affiliation, the manner of death, and the book of the Iliad and line number.

Deaths in Books 4 Through 8

Antilochus (Greek) kills Echepolus (Trojan) (spear in the head) (4.529)

Agenor (Trojan) kills Elephenor (Greek) (spear in the side) (4.543)

Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) kills Simoeisius (Trojan) (speared in the nipple) (4.549)

Antiphus (Trojan) kills Leucus (Greek) (speared in the groin) (4.569)

Odysseus (Greek) kills Democoön (Trojan) (spear through the head) (4.579)

Peirous (Trojan) kills Diores (Greek) (hit with a rock, then speared in the gut) (4.598)

Thoas (Greek) kills Peirous (Trojan) (spear in the chest, sword in the gut) (4.608)

Diomedes (Greek) kills Phegeus (Trojan) (spear in the chest) (5.19)

Agamemnon (Greek) kills Odius (Trojan) (spear in the back) (5.42)

Idomeneus (Greek) kills Phaestus (spear in the shoulder) (5.48)

Menelaus (Greek) kills Scamandrius (spear in the back) (5.54)

Meriones (Greek) kills Phereclus (Trojan) (spear in the buttock) (5.66)

Meges (Greek) kills Pedaeus (Greek) (spear in the neck) (5.78)

Eurypylus (Greek) kills Hypsenor (Trojan) (arm cut off) (5.86)

Diomedes (Greek) kills Astynous (Trojan) (spear in the chest) (5.164)

Diomedes (Greek) kills Hypeiron (Trojan) (sword in the collar bone) (5.165)

Diomedes (Greek) kills Abas (Trojan) (5.170)

Diomedes (Greek) kills Polyidus (Trojan) (5.170)

Diomedes (Greek) kills Xanthus (Trojan) (5.174)

Diomedes (Greek) kills Thoon (Trojan) (5.174)

Diomedes (Greek) kills Echemmon (Trojan) (5.182)

Diomedes (Greek) kills Chromius (Trojan) (5.182)

Diomedes (Greek) kills Pandarus (Trojan) (spear in the nose) (5.346)

Diomedes (Greek) wounds Aeneas (Trojan) with a rock (5.359)

Agamemnon (Greek) kills Deicoon (Trojan), spear in the stomach (5.630)

Aeneas (Trojan) kills Crethon (Greek)

Aeneas (Trojan) kills Orsilochus (Greek)

Menelaus (Greek) kills Phlaemenes (Trojan), spear in the collar bone (5.675) A

ntilochus (Greek) kills Mydon (Trojan), sword in the head, stomped by his horses (5.680)

Hector (Trojan) kills Menesthes (Greek) (5.714)

Hector (Trojan) kills Anchialus (Greek) (5.714)

Ajax son of Telamon kills Amphion (Trojan), spear in the gut (5.717)

Sarpedon (Trojan) kills Tlepolemus (Greek), spear in the neck (5.764)

Tlepolemus (Greek) wounds Sarpedon (Trojan) spear in the thigh (5.764)

Odysseus (Greek) kills Cocranus (Trojan) (5.783)

Odysseus (Greek) kills Alastor (Trojan) (5.783)

Odysseus (Greek) kills Chromius (Trojan) (5.783)

Odysseus (Greek) kills Alcandrus (Trojan) (5.784)

Odysseus (Greek) kills Halius (Trojan) (5.784)

Odysseus (Greek) kills Noemon (Trojan) (5.784)

Odysseus (Greek) kills Prytanis (Trojan) (5.784)

Hector (Trojan) kills Teuthras (Greek) (5.811)

Hector (Trojan) kills Orestes (Greek) (5.811)

Hector (Trojan) kills Trechus (Greek) (5.812)

Hector (Trojan) kills Oenomaus (Greek) (5.812)

Hector (Trojan) kills Helenus (Greek) (5.813)

Hector (Trojan) kills Oresbius (Greek) (5.813)

Ares kills Periphas (Greek) (5.970)

Diomedes wounds Ares in the gut (5.980)

Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) kills Acamas (Trojan), spear in the head (6.9)

Diomedes (Greek) kills Axylus (Trojan) (6.14)

Diomedes (Greek) kills Calesius (Trojan) (6.20)

Euryalus (Greek) kills Dresus (Trojan) (6.23)

Euryalus (Greek) kills Opheltius (Trojan) (6.23)

Euryalus (Greek) kills Aesepus (Trojan) (6.24)

Euryalus (Greek) kills Pedasus (Trojan) (6.24)

Polypoetes (Greek) kills Astyalus (Trojan) (6.33)

Odysseus (Greek) kills Pidytes (Trojan), with his spear (6.34)

Teucer (Greek) kills Aretaon (Trojan) (6.35)

Antilochus (Greek) kills Ableros (Trojan), with his spear (6.35)

Agamemnon (Greek) kills Elatus (Trojan) (6.38)

Leitus (Greek) kills Phylacus (Trojan) (6.41)

Eurypylus (Greek) kills Melanthus (6.42)

Agamemnon (Greek) kills Adrestus (Trojan), spear in the side (6.76)

Paris (Trojan) kills Menesthius (Greek) (7.8)

Hector (Trojan) kills Eioneus (Greek), spear in the neck (7.11)

Glaucus (Trojan) kills Iphinous (Greek), spear in the shoulder (7.13)

Diomedes (Greek) kills Eniopeus (Trojan), spear in the chest (8.138)

Diomedes (Greek) kills Agelaos (Trojan), spear in the back (8.300)

Teucer (Greek) kills Orsilochos (Trojan), with an arrow (8.321)

Teucer (Greek) kills Ormenus (Trojan), with an arrow (8.321)

Teucer (Greek) kills Ophelestes (Trojan), with an arrow (8.321)

Teucer (Greek) kills Daitor (Trojan), with an arrow (8.322)

Teucer (Greek) kills Chromius (Trojan), with an arrow (8.322)

Teucer (Greek) kills Lycophontes (Trojan), with an arrrow (8.322)

Teucer (Greek) kills Amopaon (Trojan), with an arrow (8.323)

Teucer (Greek) kills Melanippus (Trojan), with an arrow (8.323)

Teucer (Greek) kills Gorgythion (Trojan), with an arrow (8.353)

Teucer (Greek) kills Archeptolemos (Trojan), with an arrow (8.363)

Hector (Trojan) wounds Teucer (Greek), with a rock (8.380)

Deaths in Books 10 Through 14

Diomedes (Greek) kills Dolon (Trojan), sword across the neck (10.546)

Diomedes (Greek) kills twelve sleeping Thracian soldiers (10.579) (includes Rhesus)

Agamemnon (Greek) kills Bienor (Trojan) (11.99)

Agamemnon (Greek) kills Oileus (Trojan), spear in the head, (11.103)

Agamemnon (Greek) kills Isus (Trojan), spear in the chest (11.109)

Agamemnon (Greek) kills Antiphus (Trojan), sword in the head (11.120)

Agamemnon (Greek) kills Peisander (Trojan), spear in the chest (11.160)

Agamemnon (Greek) kills Hippolochus (Trojan), sword cuts off his head (11.165)

Agamemnon (Greek) kills Iphidamas T), sword in the neck (11.270) Coön (Trojan) wounds Agamemnon (Greek), spear in the arm (11.288)

Agamemnon (Greek) kills Coön (Trojan), spear in the side (11.295)

Hector (Trojan) kills Asaeus (Greek) (11.341)

Hector (Trojan) kills Autonous (Greek) (11.341)

Hector (Trojan) kills Opites (Greek) (11.341)

Hector (Trojan) kills Dolops (Greek) (11.342)

Hector (Trojan) kills Opheltius (Greek) (11.324)

Hector (Trojan) kills Agelaus (Greek) (11.325)

Hector (Trojan) kills Aesymnus (Greek) (11.325)

Hector (Trojan) kills Orus (Greek) (11.343)

Hector (Trojan) kills Hipponous (Greek) (11.325)

Diomedes (Greek) kills Thymbraeus (Trojan), spear in the chest (11.364)

Odysseus (Greek) kills Molion (Trojan) (11.366)

Diomedes (Greek) kills two sons of Merops (Trojan) (11.375)

Odysseus (Greek) kills Hippodamas (Trojan) (11.381)

Odysseus (Greek) kills Hypeirochus (Trojan) (11.381)

Diomedes (Greek) kills Agastrophus (Trojan), spear in the hip (11.384)

Paris (Trojan) wounds Diomedes (Greek), arrow in the foot (11.430)

Odysseus (Greek) kills Deïopites (Trojan) (11.479)

Odysseus (Greek) kills Thoön (Trojan) (11.481)

Odysseus (Greek) kills Ennomus (Greek) (11.481)

Odysseus (Greek) kills Chersidamas (Trojan), spear in the groin (11.481)

Odysseus (Greek) kills Charops (Trojan) (11.485)

Odysseus (Greek) kills Socus (Trojan), spear in the back (11.506)

Socus (Trojan) wounds Odysseus (Greek), spear in the ribs (11.493)

Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) kills Doryclus (Trojan) (11.552)

Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) kills Pandocus (Trojan) (11.553)

Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) kills Lysander (Trojan) (11.554)

Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) kills Pyrasus (Trojan) (11.554)

Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) kills Pylantes (Trojan) (11.554)

Eurypylus (Greek) kills Apisaon (Trojan), spear in the liver (11.650)

Polypoetes (Greek) kills Damasus (Trojan), spear through the cheek (12.190);

Polypoetes (Greek) kills Pylon (Trojan) (12.194)

Polypoetes (Greek) kills Ormenus (Trojan) (12.194)

Leonteus (Greek) kills Hippomachus, spear in the stomach (12.196)

Leonteus (Greek) kills Antiphates (Trojan), struck with a sword (12.198)

Leonteus (Greek) kills Menon (Trojan) (12.201)

Leonteus (Greek) kills Iamenus (Trojan) (12.201)

Leonteus (Greek) kills Orestes (Trojan) (12.201)

Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) kills Epicles (Trojan), rock in the skull (12.416)

Teucer (Greek) wounds Glaucus (Trojan), arrow in the arm (12.425)

Sarpedon (Trojan) kills Alcmaon (Greek), spear in the body (12.434)

Teucer (Greek) kills Imbrius (Trojan), spear in the ear (13.198)

Hector (Trojan) kills Amphimachus (Greek), spear in the chest (13.227)

Idomeneus (Greek) kills Othryoneus (Trojan), spear in the gut, (13.439 ff)

Idomeneus (Greek) kills Asius (Trojan), spear in the neck (13.472)

Antilochus (Greek) kills Asius' charioteer, spear in the gut (13.482)

Deïphobus (Trojan) kills Hypsenor (Greek), spear in the liver (13.488) (wounded?)

Idomeneus (Greek) kills Alcathous (Trojan), spear in the chest (13.514 ff)

Idomeneus (Greek) kills Oenomaus (Trojan), spear in the stomach (13.608)

Deïphobus (Trojan) kills Ascalaphus (Greek), spear in the shoulder (13.621)

Meriones (Greek) wounds Deïphobus (Trojan) spear in the arm (13.634)

Aeneas (Trojan) kills Aphareus (Greek), spear in the throat (13.647)

Antilochus (Greek) kills Thoön (Greek), spear in the back (13.652).

Meriones (Greek) kills Adamas (Trojan), spear in the testicles (13.677).

Helenus (Trojan) kills Deïpyrus (Greek), sword on the head (13.687)

Menelaus (Greek) wounds Helenus (Trojan), spear in the hand (13.705)

Menelaus (Greek) kills Peisander (Trojan), sword in the head (13.731)

Meriones (Greek) kills Harpalion (Trojan), arrow in the buttock (13.776)

Paris (Trojan) kills Euchenor (Greek), arrow in the jaw (13.800)

Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) hits Hector (Trojan) with a rock (14.477)

Ajax son of Oileus (Greek) kills Satnius (Trojan), spear in the side (14.517)

Polydamas (Trojan) kills Prothoënor (Greek), spear in the shoulder (14.525)

Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) kills Archelochus, spear in the neck (14.540)

Acamas (Trojan) kills Promachus (Greek), spear (14.555)

Peneleus (Greek) kills Ilioneus (Trojan), spear in the eye (14.570)

Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) kills Hyrtius (14.597)

Meriones (Greek) kills Morys (14.601)

Meriones (Greek) kills Hippotion (14.601)

Teucer (Greek) kills Prothoön (Trojan) (14.602)

Teucer (Greek) kills Periphetes (Trojan) (14.602)

Menelaus (Greek) kills Hyperenor (Trojan), spear in the side (14.603)

Phalces (Trojan) killed (death not mentioned but armor stripped) (14.600)

Mermerus (Trojan) killed (death not mentioned but armor stripped) (14.600)

Deaths in Books 15 Through 17

Hector (Trojan) kills Stichius (Greek) (15.389)

Hector (Trojan) kills Aresilaus (Greek) (15.389)

Aeneas (Trojan) kills Medon (Greek) (15.392)

Aeneas (Trojan) kills Iasus (Greek) (15.392)

Polydamas (Trojan) kills Mecistus (Greek) (15.399)

Polites (Trojan) kills Echius (Greek) (15.400)

Agenor (Trojan) kills Clonius (15.401)

Paris (Trojan) kills Deïochus (Greek), spear through the back (15.402)

Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) kills Caletor (Trojan), spear in the chest (15.491)

Hector (Trojan) kills Lycophron (Greek) spear in the head (15.503)

Teucer (Greek) kills Cleitus (Greek), arrow in the back of the neck (15.521)

Hector (Trojan) kills Schedius (Greek) (15.607)

Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) kills Laodamas (Trojan) (15.608)

Polydamas (Trojan) kills Otus (Greek) (15.610)

Meges (Greek) kills Croesmus (Trojan), spear in the chest (15.616)

Menelaus (Greek) kills Dolops (Trojan), speared in the back (15.636)

Antilochus (Greek) kills Melanippus (Trojan), spear in the chest (15.675)

Hector (Trojan) kills Periphetes (Greek), spear in the chest (15.744)

Patroclus (Greek) kills Pyraechmes (Trojan), spear in the shoulder (16.339)

Patroclus (Greek) kills Areilycus (Trojan), spear in the thigh (16.361)

Menelaus (Greek) kills Thoas (Trojan), spear in the chest (16.365)

Meges (Greek) kills Amphiclus (Trojan), spear in the leg (16.367)

Antilochus (Greek) kills Atymnius (Trojan), spear in the side (16.372)

Thrasymedes (Greek) kills Maris (Trojan), spear in the shoulder (16.377)

Ajax son of Oileus (Greek) kills Cleobulus (Trojan), sword in the neck (16.386)

Peneleus (Greek) kills Lyco (Greek), sword in the neck (16.395)

Meriones (Greek) kills Acamas (Trojan), spear in the shoulder (16.399)

Idomeneus (Greek) kills Erymas (Trojan), spear in the mouth (16.403)

Patroclus (Greek) kills Pronous (Trojan), spear in the chest (16.464)

Patroclus (Greek) kills Thestor (Trojan), spear in the head (16.477)

Patroclus (Greek) kills Erylaus (Trojan), rock on the head (16.479)

Patroclus (Greek) kills Erymas (Trojan) (16.484)

Patroclus (Greek) kills Amphoterus (Trojan) (16.484)

Patroclus (Greek) kills Epaltes (Trojan) (16.484)

Patroclus (Greek) kills Tlepolemus (Trojan) (16.485)

Patroclus (Greek) kills Echius (Trojan) (16.485)

Patroclus (Greek) kills Pyris (Trojan) (16.486)

Patroclus (Greek) kills Ipheus (Trojan) (16.486)

Patroclus (Greek) kills Euippus (Trojan) (16.486)

Patroclus (Greek) kills Polymelus (Trojan) (16.486)

Patroclus (Greek) kills Thrasymedes (Trojan), spear in the gut (16.542)

Patroclus (Greek) kills Sarpedon (Trojan), spear in the chest (16.559)

Hector (Trojan) kills Epeigeus (Greek), rock on the head (16.666)

Patroclus (Greek) kills Sthenelaus (Trojan), rock on the head (16.682)

Glaucus (Trojan) kills Bathycles (Greek), spear in the chest (16.691)

Meriones (Greek) kills Laogonus (Trojan), spear in the jaw (16.702)

Patroclus (Greek) kills Adrestus (Trojan) (16.808)

Patroclus (Greek) kills Autonous (Trojan) (16.809)

Patroclus (Greek) kills Echeclus (Trojan) (16.809)

Patroclus (Greek) kills Perimus (Trojan) (16.809)

Patroclus (Greek) kills Epistor (Trojan) (16.810)

Patroclus (Greek) kills Melanippus (Trojan) (16.810)

Patroclus (Greek) kills Elasus (Trojan) (16.811)

Patroclus (Greek) kills Mulius (Trojan) (16.811)

Patroclus (Greek) kills Pylantes (Trojan) (16.811)

Patroclus (Greek) kills Cebriones (Trojan), rock in the head (16.859)

Hector (Trojan) kills Patroclus (Greek) (16.993)

Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) kills Hippothous (Trojan), spear in the head (17.377)

Hector (Trojan) kills Scedius (Greek), spear in the collar (17.393)

Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) kills Phorcys (Trojan), spear in the gut (17.399)

Aeneas (Trojan) kills Leocritus (Greek), (17.439);

Lycomedes (Greek) kills Apisaon (Trojan) (17.443)

Automedon (Greek) kills Aretus (Trojan), spear in the gut (17.636)

Menelaus (Trojan) kills Podes (Trojan), spear in the stomach (17.704)

Hector (Trojan) kills Coeranus (Greek), spear in the head (17.744)

Deaths in Books 20 to 22

Achilles (Greek) kills Iphition (Trojan), spear in the head (20.463)

Achilles (Greek) kills Demoleon (Trojan), spear in the head (20.476)

Achilles (Greek) kills Hippodamas (Trojan), spear in the back (20.480)

Achilles (Greek) kills Polydorus (Trojan), spear in the back (20.488)

Achilles (Greek) kills Dryops (Trojan), spear in the knee, sword thrust (20.546)

Achilles (Greek) kills Demouchos (Trojan) spear thrust (20.548).

Achilles (Greek) kills Laogonus (Trojan), spear thrust (20.551)

Achilles (Greek) kills Dardanus (Trojan), sword thrust (20.551)

Achilles (Greek) kills Tros (Trojan), sword in the liver (20.555)

Achilles (Greek) kills Mulius (Trojan), spear in the head (20.567)

Achilles (Greek) kills Echeclus (Trojan), sword on the head (20.569)

Achilles (Greek) kills Deucalion (Trojan), sword in the neck (20.573)

Achilles (Greek) kills Rhigmus (Trojan), spear in the gut (20.581)

Achilles (Greek) kills Areithous (Trojan), spear in the back (20.586)

Achilles (Greek) kills Lycaon (Trojan), sword in the neck (21.138)

Achilles (Greek) kills Asteropaeus (Trojan), sword in the stomach (21.215)

Achilles (Greek) kills Thersilochus (Trojan) (21.249)

Achilles (Greek) kills Mydon (Trojan) (21.249)

Achilles (Greek) kills Astypylus (Trojan) (21.250)

Achilles (Greek) kills Mnesus (Trojan) (21.250)

Achilles (Greek) kills Thrasius (Trojan) (21.250)

Achilles (Greek) kills Aenius (Trojan) (21.250)

Achilles (Greek) kills Ophelestes (Trojan) (21.251)

Achilles (Greek) kills Hector (Trojan), spear through the throat (22.410)


Homer, Iliad

Garland, Robert. “The Causation Of Death In The Iliad: A Theological And Biological Investigation.” Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies, vol. 28, no. 1, 1981, pp. 43–60.

Morrison, James V. “Homeric Darkness: Patterns and Manipulation of Death Scenes in the 'Iliad'.” Hermes, vol. 127, no. 2, 1999, pp. 129–144.

Johnston, Ian. "Deaths in the Iliad."

"ThoughtCo", by N.S. Gill

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