That's a poor translation, although an understandable one; it should be "Zeus".
First I checked a number of other English translations of the Iliad; it was easy to find the relevant passage in each one, since it's the very first paragraph of the whole thing. Here are a few I found, with the corresponding phrase highlighted by me in each case:
Apparently, because it was true.
The Iliad as we know it was composed over some centuries, transmitted orally, before "Homer" synthesized the version that was written down. Practically every word in that last sentence is subject to debate, called the Homeric Question. But this is the version that I think is most generally agreed on, and which I think best ...
The Greek is “Διὸς … βουλή” where “βουλή” means “will” and “Διὸς” is the genitive of “Ζεύς”, hence “will of Zeus”.
So why did Rouse translate “Zeus” as “God” here? This is clearly a deliberate strategy and not a mistake (as suggested by the other answer), because Rouse makes this choice in many places in the text. Here are three examples, comparing Rouse’s ...
TL;DR: Aphrodite has disguised herself as a worker in wool, an occupation which Rouse stereotypes as northern English.
Aphrodite’s speech here is book III, lines 390–394:
δεῦρ᾽ ἴθ᾽: Ἀλέξανδρός σε καλεῖ οἶκον δὲ νέεσθαι.
κεῖνος ὅ γ᾽ ἐν θαλάμῳ καὶ δινωτοῖσι λέχεσσι
κάλλεΐ τε στίλβων καὶ εἵμασιν: οὐδέ κε φαίης
ἀνδρὶ μαχεσσάμενον τόν γ᾽ ἐλθεῖν, ἀλλὰ χορὸν δὲ
Whether the Iliad starts in the middle depends on what the subject of the poem is. If the subject is the whole Trojan War, then certainly the poem starts in the middle, and finishes well before the end. But is that really the subject? The opening line of the poem is:
μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος
That is, “sing, goddess, the rage of Peleus’ son ...
There was a whole cycle of poems detailing the Trojan war and its aftermath. See Wikipedia. Of these, only the two attributed to Homer have survived intact.
So you could think of it as starting in the middle, or you can think of it as being one installment in a long series, most installments of which have now been lost.
Much of the audience would have ...
“Branch of Ares” is a literal translation of “ὄζος Ἄρηος”, for example in the passage quoted in the question:
οὐκ οἶος, ἅμα τῷ γε Λεοντεὺς ὄζος Ἄρηος
υἱὸς ὑπερθύμοιο Κορώνου Καινεΐδαο:
τοῖς δ᾽ ἅμα τεσσαράκοντα μέλαιναι νῆες ἕποντο.
Homer. The Iliad, book II, lines 745–747. Oxford University Press (1920).
“Branch” here means “descendant”: it is a metaphor ...
The specific Butler passage you reference can be found on Perseus
An alternate 1924 translation by A.T. Murray may also be found there.
The Murray is quite distinct from the Butler in these passages, which got me wondering about the Greek because
The use of "bootless" is undoubtedly wordplay referencing Achilles' famous heel.
This is book IV, line 318:
τὸν δ᾽ ἠμείβετ᾽ ἔπειτα Γερήνιος ἱππότα Νέστωρ:
In A. T. Murray’s 1924 translation, that’s
To him then made answer the horseman, Nestor of Gerenia:
“ἱππότης” means “driver or rider of horses” and “Γερήνιος ἱππότα Νέστωρ” is a Homeric epithet, a repeated phrase fitting the rhythm of the poem. Here are some other appearances in ...
Pope uses “grateful” in this sense:
grateful, adj., 1. Pleasing to the mind or the senses, agreeable, acceptable, welcome.
Oxford English Dictionary.
and not in the more usual sense of “feeling gratitude”. So the meaning of the line is that Agamemnon’s massacre is pleasing to vultures, who will feast on the corpses, and not to wives, who will mourn their ...
From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
a bootless attempt
So we can replace the word bootless like this:
The oath he swore was useless, but it made Dolon more keen on going.
The oath didn't mean anything, but it made him more keen anyway.
The way I'm understanding it, it's saying that it won't be kept. As Rand said, I'm not ...
It likely has to do with a quote by Automedon later in the Iliad:
“Alcimedon, what man beside of the Achaeans is of like worth to curb and guide the spirit of [Achilles'] immortal steeds, save only Patroclus, the peer of the gods in counsel..."
Source: Iliad, 17.475, A.T. Murray trans.
These horses were supernatural, reputedly the offspring of a harpy ...
Yes, they can be read independently.
On the nature of myth (hand-wavy background stuff)
In a comment to your question, you note:
these were originally oral traditions rather than written books.... [So] I suspect that the Odyssey doesn't require knowledge of the Iliad.
This comment is spot-on, and gets to the heart of the matter. What does "...
The first case is book IV, line 92:
ἀγχοῦ δ᾽ ἱσταμένη ἔπεα πτερόεντα προσηύδα:
Here ἀγχοῦ = near; ἱσταμένη = standing; ἔπεα = words; πτερόεντα = feathered, winged; προσηύδα = spoke to, addressed. So literally, “standing near, [Athena] addressed winged words”.
The second case is book IV, line 203:
ἀγχοῦ δ᾽ ἱσταμένη ἔπεα πτερόεντα προσηύδα:
This is ...
The sack of Troy was depicted in an ancient epic poem, the Iliupersis; this was probably used by Virgil as a source, but it has since been lost. From a surviving summary we can get an idea of the contents of this poem, and as far as we can tell there is nothing in the Aeneid that is inconsistent with it, though we can see that Virgil selects the ...
Hector is urging his men to attack the Greek ships bravely, but without plundering them afterwards. He says:
If you run away from the battle, or if you lag behind so that you’re not on its front lines, I will make sure you die a dishonorable death anyway. So don’t try to save yourself. Likewise if you stop to plunder the ships.
Edit based on comment from ...
The existing answers ignore the most important comment from Antiquity on this matter, namely chapter XXIII from Aristotle's Poetics (in Ingram Bywater's 1898 translation), quoted below, or in S. H. Butcher's 1922 translation). Although Poetics (or at least what has survived of it) deals primarily with drama, especially tragedy, it also contains comments on ...
Fate is controlled by the Fates, whom no god can contradict. According to Walter Otto's The Homeric Gods (Walter F. Otto, The Homeric Gods: The Spiritual Significance of Greek Religion. 1929. Translated by Moses Hadas, Thames and Hudson, 1979), the Fates are a holdover from a primordial religious belief preceding the Olympians, including Chronos, Gaia, the ...
As I mentioned elsewhere, Shakespeare's main sources for Romeo and Juliet were
Arthur Brooke's narrative poem The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet (1562) and
William Painter's prose version of the story in the second volume of The Palace of Pleasure (1567).
There is no evidence that Shakespeare read any of the French or Italian sources for this story, ...
For comparison, see Augustus Taber Murray's translation (1924), which also mentions Ares:
 And they that held Argissa, and dwelt in Gyrtone, Orthe, and Elone, and the white city of Oloösson, these again had as leader Polypoetes, staunch in fight, son of Peirithous, whom immortal Zeus begat—even him whom glorious Hippodameia conceived to Peirithous on ...
In addition to verbose's theoretical comments on the nature of myth, there is evidence that the two epics were, in fact, consumed separately in ancient Greece.
Aelian (Various History 13.14) attests that the ancients sung different sections of Homer, which he names, independently of each other. They were only compiled into the present two poems by ...
This is a complex subject, and worthy of a thesis, but I'll attempt to briefly address it.
The Sarpedon incident is interesting in that Zeus only contemplates altering fate. One could say that his ultimate decision to let Sarpedon die is a confirmation of the inviolability of fate. In the same way, the gods, most notably Poseidon, may argue about ...
I found it! Googling odysseus "plough the field" "sow the seed" gave me precisely two results: this question on Literature SE, and a Google Books version of the book Odysseus: the Greatest Hero of Them All by Tony Robinson and Richard Curtis.
"Hallo sunshine," he beamed. "Say hello to your grandpa."
"Grandfather!" said Odysseus in amazement. "I ...