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Chryses, a Trojan priest of Apollo, offers the Greeks wealth for the return of his daughter Chryseis, held captive of Agamemnon, the Greek leader.
Although most of the Greek army is in favour of the offer, Agamemnon refuses.
Although the story covers only a few weeks in the final year of the war, the Iliad mentions or alludes to many of the Greek legends about the siege; the earlier events, such as the gathering of warriors for the siege, the cause of the war, and related concerns tend to appear near the beginning.
Then the epic narrative takes up events prophesied for the future, such as Achilles' imminent death and the fall of Troy, although the narrative ends before these events take place.
While Helen tells Priam about the Greek commanders from the walls of Troy, both sides swear a truce and promise to abide by the outcome of the duel.
Paris is beaten, but Aphrodite rescues him and leads him to bed with Helen before Menelaus can kill him.
Odysseus takes a ship and returns Chryseis to her father, whereupon Apollo ends the plague.
In the meantime, Agamemnon's messengers take Briseis away.
The Greeks agree to burn their dead, and build a wall to protect their ships and camp, while the Trojans quarrel about returning Helen.
Many heroes and commanders join in, including Hector, and the gods supporting each side try to influence the battle.
Emboldened by Athena, Diomedes wounds Ares and puts him out of action.
Chryses prays for Apollo's help, and Apollo causes a plague to afflict the Greek army.
After nine days of plague, Achilles, the leader of the Myrmidon contingent, calls an assembly to deal with the problem.