Difference Between Iliad and Odyssey

Iliad vs Odyssey

When it comes to epic poetry, the Iliad and the Odyssey are the two names that spring to mind. Centred on the Trojan War, these two ancient Greek epic poems are world renowned not only for the engaging dialogue with which they present turn of events but also for the beauty with which it is unfolded.


Dated to around the eighth century BC, Iliad also sometimes referred to as the Song of Ilium or as the Song of Ilion is an ancient Greek epic poem written in dactylic hexameter by the great epic poet Homer. The Iliad is believed to be the oldest existing work of Western literature and is valued as a fundamental piece to the Western canon. The Iliad is set during the ten year siege of Troy, also known as Ilium by a coalition of Greek states and describes the events and battles that unfolded during the fight between Achilles the warrior and king Agamemnon. Although the poem unfolds during the time of the siege it alludes also to the causes of the strife, Greek legends about the siege and other concerns with regards to the incident while eventually it also prophesies into the future, alluding to Achilles’ death and the fall of Troy, thereby providing an overall picture of the Trojan war. The main character in Iliad is Achilles the great warrior whereas other main characters involved would be Helen, Hector, Priam and Paris.


Also attributed to Homer, the Odyssey is a Greek epic poem written as a sequel to the Iliad.  Believed to be composed near the end of the 8th century BC, somewhere in Ionia, the Odyssey is set ten years after the end of the Trojan War and centres on the Greek hero Odysseus who still has not returned home from war. The Odyssey traces his ten year journey home after the war and also the plight of his wife Penelope and son Telemachus who have to deal with a group of unwelcome suitors competing with each other for Penelope’s hand, thinking that Odysseus has died during the war.

Written in a poetic dialect of Greek, the Odyssey is written in dactylic hexameter and includes a non-linear plot that focuses upon how the choices made by women and serfs affected the turn of events, in addition to the actions of the fighting men. Odyssey is also believed to have a lost sequel named Telegony attributed, not to Homer, but either to Cinaethon of Sparta or Eugammon of Cyrene.

What is the difference between Iliad and Odyssey?

Due to the fact that both the poems are written by Homer, there are many similarities between these two epic poems. However, what is noteworthy is the differences that would help one discern and properly separate one from the other since the Iliad and Odyssey are indeed two works of art in themselves.

• The Iliad is set during the time of the ten year old Trojan War. The odyssey takes place ten years after the Trojan War.

• The main character of Iliad is Achilles. The main character of odyssey is Odysseus. Achilles is impulsive and rushes into meet a challenge whereas Odysseus is more strategic in his approach to war.

• The events in the Iliad take place only in Troy. In the odyssey, Odysseus and his crew visit many places on their journey back to Ithaca.