Scripsit Gary Dexter in the Telegraph:
The Iliad got its title because the ancient name for Troy was ‘Ilion’, and the suffix -ad tended to denote poems. So far, so straightforward. For 25 centuries this cornerstone of western culture remained largely untampered-with – and then along came Alexander Pope. With his Dunciad, a mock-heroic polemic against ‘Dulness’, he unleashed a literary frenzy. Imitators produced Thespiads, Scribleriads, Rosciads, and Dorriads. There were epic poems in praise or damnation of a particular activity, such as the Golfiad, Chessiad, Beeriad, or Ballooniad; of particular places, such as the Indiad, Hiberniad, Helvetiad, and with marvellous bathos, Sudburiad; or of particular persons, such as the Pittiad, Hamiltoniad, and (most ridiculously) the Sarah-ad, in reference to the Duchess of Marlborough. One of 1874 perhaps sums up the genre: it was the political satire The Siliad, by Grenville Murray.
via Title Deed: How the Book Got its Name | Telegraph.
Interesting bit, but a minor quibble on the 25 centuries thing … I believe (and correct me if I’m wrong, please) that this supposed ‘suffix -ad’ thing is sort of glossing over the fact that we’re dealing with the Latin genitive form of Ilias (which is what the poem is referred to in Greek), which would cut a few centuries off that 25 on its own and technically ‘Iliad’ wasn’t used as a ‘title’ per se (i.e. ‘the Iliad) until Renaissance times … so five or six centuries, tops, no? Outside of that, I’ve always wondered why ‘The Odyssey’ and not something like ‘Odysseid’ …