Since it is presumably one of the two founding works of modern Western thought, I figured I could supplement this node slightly. The Iliad and The Odyssey are the examples of epic poetry. It is believed that The Iliad was composed 1st by Homer and The Odyssey years later. This is the young Homer/old Homer theory. The reason for this is that while the Iliad is beautiful and signifigant, it is a ferocious war story with ideals of combat similar to those of the young and patriotic WWII fighters. The Odyssey, on the other hand, has the feeling of maturity and is composed with much more thought as to metaphor and story. Some scholars also believe that Homer was blind when composing this epic because of some of the vivid imagery. The Iliad is the story of Achilles and the Accheans in their fight against the Trojans. Paris abducted Helen from the home of Agamemnon and took her back to Troy. The Accheans came looking for her and Hector, on behalf of his brother Paris, led the city's defense. Achilles leaves the fight, having been shamed by Agamemnon early in the epic, and the Accheans begin to lose the battle. Achilles is finally convinced to come back to the fighting after the death of his best friend (and lover?) Patroklos. Patroklos went back to the fight for pity of the accheans, in Achilles' place. After Achilles returns, the tide turns away from the favor of the Trojans, and the story climaxes when Achilles finally kills Hector. The epic ends with the funeral of Hector, which is interesting as it tends to signify that Hector is as much a protagonist as is Achilles (which I tend to believe). Below are the 1st 80 or so lines of the Iliad, modestly translated from the Greek by me, Xeno_Paradox. (BTW, I highly recomend the Loeb 2nd Edition translation... It's the one to read.)

Sing, goddess, the deadly wrath of Achilles son of Peleus,
That brought countless woes for the Achaeans,
and sent forth many strong souls of heroes to Hades,
making they themselves spoils for dogs and
feasts for birds, and the will of Zeus was accomplished,

from that time when first they were set apart in strife,
both the son of Atreus, lord of men, and god-like Achilles.
And who of the gods brought together these two in quarrel to fight?
The son of Leto and Zeus; for he, having been angered

with the king, let loose an evil plague upon the army, and people began to be killed,
because the son of Atreus dishonored the priest Chryses.
For he came to the swift ships of the Achaeans
bearing countless ransoms to release his daughter,
holding wreaths of far-shooting Apollo in his hands

on a golden staff, and he beseeched all the Achaeans,
but above all the two sons of Atreus, commanders of the people,
“Sons of Atreus and all other well-greaved Achaeans,
to you may the gods who have their homes on Olympus grant
the sacking of the city of Priam, and to come home safely;

but release my dear daughter to me, and let the ransoms be accepted
standing in awe of the son of Zeus, far-shooting Apollo.”
Then, all the rest of the Achaeans assented with a shout of applause
both to reverence the priest and to accept the ransoms;
yet this was not pleasing to the soul for Agamemnon, son of Atreus,

but he discharged him harshly and enjoined upon him a mighty threat,
“Let me not, old man, come upon you beside the hollow ships,
either loitering now or being back again later,
surely your staff and wreath of the god shall not protect you;
but her I will not release, before old age overtakes her

in our home in Argos, far from her native land,
and she goes to the loom and shares my bed.
But go; do not anger me, in order that you may return more safely.”
So he spoke, and the old man feared him and obeyed the command.
And he walked in silence along the shore of the loud-roaring sea.

Thereupon, having gone far away, he began to pray
to lord Apollo, whom fair-haired Leto bore:
“Hear me, one with the silver bow, who guards Chrysa
and holy Cilla, and rules Tenedos mightily,
Smintheus, if ever I roofed over a beautiful temple for you,

or if ever I burned to you fat thigh-bones
of bulls and goats, fulfill this wish for me:
Let the Danaans pay my price with your arrows”
So he spoke in prayer, and Phoebus Apollo heard him,
And he walked down from the peaks of Olympus, his heart angered,

holding a bow at his shoulders and a covered quiver.
And the arrows clanged upon his shoulders enraged,
he went; and who was going like the night.
Then, he sat far from the ships, and sent an arrow into their midst;
and terrible was the shriek of the silver bow.

At first, he sent against mules and swift dogs,
but then, hurling a sharp arrow on the men themselves,
he began to shoot; and the pyres burned ever thick from corpses.
For nine days, the arrows of the god came upon the army,
but on the tenth day, Achilles summoned the people to assembly;

for the white-armed goddess Hera placed it on his heart;
for she was grieving for the Danaans, because she saw them dying.
And when the men were then gathered and assembled,
among them swift-footed Achilles being raised up began to speak;
“Son of Atreus, as it is now, we will, having again been beaten back, I believe,

return home, should we flee death at least,
and even then, together both war and pestilence will overcome the Achaeans.
But come then, we will find some seer, whether priest
or even dreamer of dreams, for the dream is also from Zeus,
who might even say why Phoebus Apollo has been angered so much,

whether he indeed finds fault with a prayer or a hecatomb,
in the hope that somehow from the savor of unblemished lambs and goats
he is willing to come ward off ruin from us.”
Indeed, having said that, he sat down straightaway, and raised up from them was
Calchas, son of Thestor, far best of the bird-interpreters,

who knew the things that are, and the things that will be, and were before,
and who guided the ships of the Achaeans to Ilios
by means of his own gift of prophecy that Phoebus Apollo granted him.
He, being well disposed, addressed the assembly and spoke:
“Achilles, dear to Zeus, you urge me to declare

the wrath of Apollo, far-shooting lord;
therefore, I will speak, but understand and swear
to zealously succor me with word and deed.
For I think I will surely anger a man who
rules mightily over all of the Argives and whom the Achaeans obey.

For mightier is the king, when he is angered at an inferior man.
Because even if he digests down his rage on that same day,
yet afterwards he still holds a grudge, until he brings it to fulfillment
in his own breast. But consider if you shall protect me.”