Chapter 1: The scene opens on the last year of the Trojan war. The war had raged for ten years, with the invading Greeks fighting against Troy. Apollo has sent a plague to the Greeks because Agamemnon, king and leader of the Greeks, dishonored a daughter of Apollo's priest. When the reason for the plague is discovered, Agamemnon becomes angry and defiant, unhappy to give the daughter back to her father to appease Apollo. Achilles, a superior Greek warrior, challenges Agamemnon's arrogance, but Agamemnon turns his anger to Achilles, and demands that Achilles give a slave girl to him as a compensation. Achilles fills with rage, but Athena, Goddess of Wisdom, calms both men down so that they do not fight with swords. Instead they argue, and Achilles withdraws from the Greek camp, refusing to fight until Agamemnon apologizes.
Meanwhile, on Olympus, the home of the gods, the gods are taking sides in the conflict. Aphrodite persuades Zeus to give glory to the Trojans, if only temporarily. Zeus agrees, which angers his wife Hera, who favors the Greeks.
Chapter 2: Many Greek leaders want to abandon the war against Troy, because they are weary. This is not the will of Zeus, and so he sends a false message in dream form to Agamemnon, encouraging him to fight, and promising him an easy victory. Agamemnon asks the warriors if they want to leave, hoping for a rallying answer, but instead, all of them start heading for their ships. Odysseus, a clever warrior, makes a speech and motivates the Greeks to stay and fight.