David Malouf

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Priam is the aging King of Troy and the father of Hector, who at the outset of the novel lies dead in the Greek camp after having been defeated in battle by Achilles. At… read analysis of Priam


Conventionally described as the greatest warrior to take part in the siege of Troy, Achilles is half-human and half-divine: his father Peleus is a human king, but his mother Thetis is a sea nymph. Ransomread analysis of Achilles


Somax—a middle-aged common man with a flair for storytelling and a special fondness for his mule Beauty—is the carter hired to convey Priam to the Greek encampment. As Ransom’s only original (and only… read analysis of Somax


Hecuba is the wife of Priam, and thus the Queen of Troy and the mother of Hector. Although her relationship with her children is in many ways more intimate and personal than her… read analysis of Hecuba


Initially appearing in Ransom as a young and rather vain Greek soldier, Hermes is in fact the Greek messenger god. He is also the god of travelers, and the escort of souls to the afterlife… read analysis of Hermes
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As Achilles’s closest friend, Patroclus looms large in Ransom even though the novel opens after his death. Patroclus and Achilles met when they were boys and grew up as adoptive brothers, so Achilles’s sense… read analysis of Patroclus


Hector is Priam’s eldest son, and thus the Crown Prince of Troy. He is also the city’s greatest warrior, so his death at Achilles’s hands essentially seals Troy’s downfall. By the time Ransomread analysis of Hector


Peleus, Achilles’s aging father, appears throughout the novel in his son’s thoughts. In fact, when Priam visits Achilles, Achilles at first mistakes Priam for his own father and falls at his feet in tears… read analysis of Peleus


Neoptolemus is Achilles’s son, whom he has not seen in nine years by the time Ransom begins. Although Achilles himself will die before he has the chance to see his son again, he has… read analysis of Neoptolemus
Minor Characters
Deiphobus is one of Priam’s sons. He claims to have been particularly close to Hector, and he urges his father not to disrespect his brother’s memory by following through on his plan to visit Achilles.
Polydamas is an advisor to Priam and a friend of Hector. As a result of this friendship, he views the Trojan king as a father figure, and Priam returns the affection, carefully weighing Polydamas’s advice.
Automedon is one of Achilles’s men and, in the aftermath of Patroclus’s death, his chariot driver and attendant. Achilles recognizes that Automedon’s loyalty and cautious nature make him a valuable assistant, but nevertheless resents him for being present at Patroclus’s death as he himself wasn’t.
Alcimus is Automedon’s squire. He is relatively young and occasionally forgets to follow customs and conventions—a trait Achilles finds charming.
Helenus is a son of Priam, who shares his ability to communicate with the gods. Helenus, however, has made a profession out of this skill as a priest.
Cassandra is one of Priam’s daughters, and a seer like her father. In the wake of her brother Hector’s death, however, she appears to lose interest in her visions, which had previously taken an ecstatic and crazed form.