Standing near to the beginning of the Iliad, the Catalogue announces that this is a pan-Hellenic poem, embracing the traditions of the entire Greek community. For Greeks in the archaic period, and throughout antiquity and into modern times, the Catalogue's progress through the Greece of the Heroic Age would have been a stirring evocation of their heritage. Especially In performance, but even in reading, the hypnotic repetitiousness itself must have contributed to the cumulative power of the Catalogue.
To appreciate the Catalogue, you need to put yourself in the shoes of an Ionian Greek in seventh-century Asia Minor, where the Iliad probably originated. You're aware of your ancestors' displacement from mainland Greece in post-Mycenaean times. Taking you on a grand tour through your ancestral homeland in the heroic past, the Catalogue reaffirms your bond with the entire community of your people and connects you with its proud heritage.
If you can allow your imagination to transport you to that time and place, maybe the Catalogue won't be quite so tedious. Following the path through mainland Greece with the interactive map would help, too.http://ships.lib.virginia.edu/neatline-editions/271