APHRODITE: goddess of love and daughter of Zeus, although in later legends she was said to have been born from the foam of the sea.  She protected Helen, to whom she gave great beauty, and, in book three, she rescues Paris from Menelaos, and brings him to Helen.
PHOIBOS APOLLO: the archer god, cause of plagues, god of prophecy and a divine singer; the son of Zeus and Leto; a partisan of the Trojans.  In the opening scene of the Iliad, he sends a plague upon the Achaians because Agamemnon has dishonored his priest, Chryses.  Later, he helps Hektor in the killing of Patroklos, and, in the final book, his complaint about the treatment of Hektor’s corpse leads the gods to arrange the ransom of the body by Priam.
ARES: god of war, son of Zeus, and lover of Aphrodite.  He supports the Trojans, and Zeus describes him as “the most hateful of all gods who hold Olympos” (5.890).  The comic story of his affair with Aphrodite is told in book eight of the Odyssey.
ARTEMIS: sister of Apollo, goddess of the hunt.  It is said that Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter, Iphigeneia, to appease her anger on the Greeks’ expedition to Troy.  In book twenty-one, Hera beats her in the battle of the gods, and she is a protagonist in two stories told by warriors: Phoenix’ story of Meleagros (bk. 9), and Achilleus’ story of Niobe (bk. 24).
PALLAS ATHENE: Zeus' daughter, a warrior goddess, goddess of wisdom, patroness of the women's craft of weaving, a powerful ally of the Greeks and protectress of Odysseus; she hated the Trojans because of the judgement of Paris.  She restrains Achilleus from killing Agamemnon in book one; inspires Odysseus to rally the Greek troops in book two; tricks the Trojan warrior, Pandaros, into breaking the truce in book four; and intervenes in support of the Greeks - and particularly on behalf of Odysseus - throughout the poem.
HADES: god of the underworld, the realm assigned to him when the sky, sea and underworld were divided among the three sons of Kronos.  As a figure of unyielding death, he is described as “most hateful to mortals among all the gods” (9.159).
HEPHAISTOS: the divine smith and god of fire, son of Zeus and Hera.  In book one, he urges Hera not to provoke Zeus’ anger.  In book eighteen, he makes marvelous armor for Achilleus at Thetis’ request, and, in book twenty-one, he uses his fire to help rescue Achilleus in his battle with the river.
HERA: jealous wife - and sister - of Zeus; she is a vigorous patron of the Greeks because of her anger at the Trojans over the judgement of Paris, and she repeatedly bickers with her husband, Zeus, over his sympathy for the Trojans.  In book one, she inspires Achilleus to call an assembly to deal with the plague, and, in book fourteen, she seduces her husband Zeus to distract him while the god of the sea, Poseidon, aids the Greeks on the battlefield.
HERMES: son of Zeus who guides souls to the Underworld; he is sent to guide Priam on his risky trip to the tent of Achilleus for the ransom of the body of his son, Hektor (bk. 24).
KRONOS: father of Zeus, Poseidon, Hades and Hera; he was overthrown by Zeus.
POSEIDON: son of Kronos, brother of Zeus and lord of the sea.  Though a supporter of the Greeks, he intervenes in book twenty (20.288-339) to save the Trojan hero, Aineias, lest he be killed by Achilleus against destiny.
THETIS: a sea goddess, wife of the warrior, Peleus, and divine mother of Achilleus.  She foretold Achilleus' fate, intervened with Zeus on his behalf (bk. 1), mourned the death of Patroklos (bk. 18), and brought her son divine armor made by the god, Hephaistos (bk. 18).
ZEUS: the son of Kronos and most powerful of the gods; brother of Poseidon, Hades and the goddess, Hera, his wife; as lord of the sky, the thunderbolt is his most potent weapon.  He responds to Thetis’ appeal by turning the battle against the Greeks, so that they will honor Achilleus.  Throughout the Iliad, he acts as an overseer: he ensures that fated events, like the deaths of Patroklos and Hektor, take place, and he prevents Troy from falling at the hands of Achilleus against fate (bk. 20).  At Hera’s insistence, he even allows his own mortal son, Sarpedon, to die, so that fate will not be overturned (bk. 16).


Greeks (called Argives, Danaans and Achaians by Homer)
ACHILLEUS: leader of the Myrmidons and central character of the Iliad; son of the goddess, Thetis, and the warrior, Peleus.
AGAMEMNON: son of Atreus, king of Mykenai, brother of Menelaos and most powerful Greek king.  His quarrel with Achilleus (bk. 1) sparks Achilleus’ anger and sets in motion the plot of the Iliad.  Achilleus spurns his offer of compensation in book nine.
AIAS (Telamonian Aias): duels with Hektor (bk. 7), forms part of the embassy to Achilleus (bk. 9), defends the ships (bk 15), and leads the effort to recover Patroklos' body (bk. 17).
AIAS OILEUS: the lesser of the two men named Aias, leader of the Lokrians, warriors famed as archers.  Later authors tell the story of how he seized and raped Cassandra, a prophetess and daughter of Priam, during the sack of Troy.  As a result, Poseidon and Athene destroyed his ship and drowned him on his return from Troy (Odyssey, bk. 4)
DIOMEDES: son of Tydeus, great warrior whose exploits form the subject of book five; he also accompanies Odysseus on a bloody spying mission to the Trojan camp (bk. 10)
HELEN: daughter of Zeus and Leda, step-daughter of Tyndareus; wife of Menelaos who eloped with Paris, causing the Trojan war; through the gifts of the goddess, Aphrodite, she was said to be the most beautiful of all women.  She reflects on her actions in books three and six, and she concludes the lament for Hektor at the end of the Iliad.
KALCHAS: the seer or prophet of the Greeks; he identifies Agamemnon as the cause of the plague sent by Apollo in book one, and, in book two, Odysseus describes how he had interpreted omens and predicted victory - after nine years - when the Greeks set out for Troy. 
MENELAOS: son of Atreus, brother of Agamemnon, lord of Lakedaimon (Sparta), husband of Helen.
NESTOR: aged king of Pylos and a wise counsellor who often uses stories from the past to advise and instruct the Greek warriors.  He tries unsuccessfully to make peace between Achilleus and Agamemnon in book one, and he helps persuade Agamemnon to offer compensation to Achilleus in book nine.  In book eleven, he urges Patroklos to ask Achilleus to let him lead his men into battle, the plan that leads to Patroklos’ death.
ODYSSEUS: son of Laertes, lord of Ithaka, famed for his wisdom and trickery; he rallies the troops in book two, forms part of the embassy to Achilleus in book nine, and urges Achilleus to put aside his grief in book nineteen.
PATROKLOS: son of Menoitios and companion of Achilleus.  He was raised in Achilleus’ household (23.84-90), and accompanied Achilleus to Troy (bk 11, lines 764ff).  He enters the battle in Achilleus’ place in book sixteen and his death at the hands of Hektor provokes Achilleus’ return to the battle.  After his ghost visits Achilleus, Achilleus holds splendid funeral games in his honor in book twenty-three.
PHOINIX: aged tutor of Achilleus and one of the members of the embassy to Achilleus in book nine.  He speaks as a surrogate for Achilleus’ father, and uses the story of Meleagros to try to persuade Achilleus to return to the battle.

Trojans and their allies
AINEIAS: leader of the Dardanians, a Trojan clan, and son of Anchises and the goddess, Aphrodite; he is rescued from Achilleus' onslaught by Poseidon (20.288-339) because he was destined to be a survivor who would continue the Trojan line; his legendary foundation of a kingdom in Italy is the subject of the Roman epic, the Aeneid, by Virgil.
ANDROMACHE: wife of Hektor; she describes how her father and brothers were killed by Achilleus in a raid (6.413-38), and tries to persuade Hektor to be more cautious.
BRISEIS: woman captured by the Greeks in a raid and given to Achilleus as a slave; Agamemnon took her from him by force (bk. 1), sparking their quarrel.  She is returned to Achilleus in book nineteen, but Achilleus says then that it would have been better if she had died.
CHRYSEIS: daughter of Chryses, a priest of Apollo (at a place called Chryse!); she was captured by the Greeks in a raid and given to Agamemnon as a slave; Agamemnon's refusal to return her to her father led Apollo to send a plague on the Greeks (bk. 1)
GLAUKOS: an ally of the Trojans and Sarpedon's second-in-command; he exchanged armor with the Greek warrior, Diomedes, after they discovered that they were bound by ties of guest-friendship (their ancestors had entertained each other and exchanged gifts) (6.119-236)
HEKABE: queen of Troy, wife of king Priam and mother of Hektor.  She leads the Trojan women in their (vain) prayers to Athene (bk. 6), and, later (bk. 22), she begs her son, Hektor, not to confront Achilleus.
HEKTOR: son of Priam and Hekabe and leading warrior of the Trojans.  He duels with Aias in book seven, and leads the Trojan onslaught against the Greek ships in book fifteen.  With Apollo’s help, he kills Patroklos in book sixteen.  In book twenty-two, he is slain by Achilleus outside the walls of Troy before his parents’ eyes, and his body is brutally abused by Achilleus.
PARIS (Alexandros): a son of Priam; according to later legend, he had been asked to judge which of the three goddesses, Hera, Athene or Aphrodite, was the most beautiful; each goddess tried to bribe him and he accepted Aphrodite's offer of Helen, the most beautiful mortal woman.  In book three, he challenges Menelaos to a duel, but is rescued from the fight by Aphrodite.
PRIAM: aged king of Troy, married to Hekabe, father of fifty sons; he ransoms the body of his son, Hektor, from Achilleus in book twenty-four.
SARPEDON: son of Zeus by a mortal woman, Laodameia; lord of the Lykians and the most important ally of the Trojans; in book twelve (lines 310-28) he offers an eloquent summary of the values by which these warriors lived - and died.  Zeus permits him to be killed by Patroklos (bk. 16), as was fated.