|The ILIAD - Homer
Narrative begins nine years after the start of the war, as the Achaeans sack a Trojan-allied town and capture two maidens, Chryseis and Briseis. Agamemnon, commander-in-chief of the Achaean army, takes Chryseis as his prize. Achilles claims Briseis. Chryses who serves as a priest of the god Apollo, begs Agamemnon to return his daughter and offers to pay an enormous ransom. When Agamemnon refuses, Apollo sends a plague upon the Greek camp, causing the death of many soldiers. After ten days of suffering, Calchas, a powerful seer, reveals the plague as a vengeful and strategic move by Chryses and Apollo. Agamemnon flies into a rage and says that he will return Chryseis only if Achilles gives him Briseis as compensation. Agamemnon’s demand humiliates the proud Achilles. The men argue, and Achilles threatens to withdraw from battle and take his people, the Myrmidons, back home. Achilles stands poised to draw his sword and kill the Achaean commander when the goddess Athena, sent by Hera, the queen of the gods, appears to him and checks his anger. Ever since his quarrel with Agamemnon, Achilles has refused to participate in battle.
Zeus is reluctant to help the Trojans, for his wife, Hera, favors the Greeks, but he finally agrees. Hera becomes livid when she discovers that Zeus is helping the Trojans but is convinced not to interfere with battles amongst mortals.
To help the Trojans, Zeus sends a false dream to Agamemnon in which a figure in the form of Nestor persuades Agamemnon that he can take Troy if he launches a full-scale assault on the city’s walls. The next day, Agamemnon gathers his troops for attack, but, to test their courage, he lies and tells them that he has decided to give up the war and return to Greece. To his dismay, they eagerly run to their ships. When Hera sees the Achaeans fleeing, she alerts Athena, who inspires Odysseus, the most eloquent of the Achaeans, to call the men back. He reminds them of the prophecy that the soothsayer Calchas gave - a water snake had slithered to shore and devoured a nest of nine sparrows, and Calchas interpreted the sign to mean that nine years would pass before the Achaeans would finally take Troy.
The Trojans army marches from the gate to meet with the Achaeans. Alexander (Paris) came forward as champion on the Trojan side. Menelaos, saw this as an opportunity to take revenge and came forward. Seeing Menelaos, Alexander quailed and shrank in fear of his life. Hektor then scolded at Paris severely as a coward. Paris then agreed to deal with Menelaos and asked Hektor to present the term to Manelaos—let the one who is victorious and prove to be the better man takes the woman and all she has, but let the rest swear to a solemn covenant of peace. Gladly, Hektor presented the term and Manelaos agreed, with the condition that Priam himself came to swear the covenant. The Trojans and Achaeans, wearied of war, were glad when they hear this, and immediately put down their arms.
Iris, disguised as Helen’s sister-in-law, went to Helen. Helen was embroidering on the purple linen the struggles between Trojans and Achaeans that Ares had made them fight for her sake (note here micronarrative in the embroidery—like Achilles’ shield). Iris urged Helen to go see the dual. Once heard of this, Helen’s heart yearned after her former husband, her city and her parents. Helen then joined Priam and the city’s elders. The elders spoke to each other that though she is so beautiful, they want to Achaeans to take her and go. Priam asked Helen to sit in front of him, and told her that she was not to blame but the gods. After Agamemnon made a sacrifice to Zeus but it was not accepted. Paris and Menelaos put on their armor. The fought for a while and as Menelaos was about to murder him, Aphrodite snatched him up in time, hid him in a cloud of darkness and took him to his bed. Then she went to Helen, disguised as an old lady, and told Helen that Paris was waiting for her. Helen, mad, recognized that it was the goddess so she confronted Aphrodite, telling her to be a wife of Paris herself. After Helen scolded at Paris for his cowardice but Paris excused himself then made love to her. Meanwhile no one in the field knew where Paris went
Meanwhile, the gods engaged in their own duels. Zeus argued that Menelaus had won the duel and that the war should end as the mortals had agreed. Athena convinced the archer Pandarus to take aim at Menelaus. Foolishly hoping to win honor and gratitude from Trojans, Pandarus fired (pray to Apollo, the famous archer), but Athena, who wanted merely to give the Achaeans a pretext for fighting, deflected the arrow so that it only wounded Menelaus. Apollo told the Trojans that Achilles is not fighting, and encouraged them to push on, while Athena went urging the Achaeans. The efforts toward a truce have failed utterly.
Diomedes, leading the Achaeans and helped by Athena and Hera, kills many famous Trojan warriors. Ares, Apollo, and Aphrodite help Aeneas and Hektor, who lead the Trojans. The Greeks are dominant in this scroll with Trojans trying to recover. Diomedes at first backs down from fighting Ares although he wounds Aphrodite. However, with Athena’s encouragement, Diomedes attaches Ares. The gods and goddesses themselves take sides. A main theme is the lineage connections that heroes have with Zeus and the other gods and goddesses. Their fates are affected by which divine powers intervene on their behalf. Yet their kleos is earned through their own choices to charge to the front in battle. In this sense, death or being saved by divine intervention, either way kleos is achieved. Also note the theme of anger. Diomedes is described like a lion – so fierce that even gods consider him a daimon. Also note the restraint that even angry warriors have when it comes to confronting the gods. Diomedes, though angry, heeds Athena’s instructions not to fight any other gods except to wound Aphrodite. This is seen in the Greeks’ retreating when Hektor charges toward them with Ares and Enyo by his side.
Five major events happen in this scroll: (1) Menelaos is about to spare the life of Adrastos but is rebuked by Agamemnon. They kill the captive, and this shows that heroes are capable of lacking any mercy whatsoever. (2) Diomedes and Glaukos bond in friendship and exchange gifts even though they are on opposing sides. This shows how lineage and friendships of ancestors carry into the warriors’ contemporary relationships. Also touches upon gift exchange and its symbolism. (3) Hektor is advised by his brother Helenus the augur to instruct his mother and Trojan matrons to go pray to Athena for her help in protecting Troy. Athena does not answer their prayers. (4) Hektor visits his wife Andromache and his baby son for the last time, and Andromache begs him to stay. He is grieved by her lamentation more than anything else about the war. Hektor is all of mother, father, brother, and dear husband to Andromache. (5) Hektor urges his reckless brother Alexander to fight his own battle, and expresses disappointment at Alexander’s lack of judgment and sensibility. He has a brief conversation with Helen also. Helen talks about the theme song of the Iliad. She references the macronarrative. Important to note is Hektor’s comment to Andromache that a man’s fate is sealed from birth, and when time comes, whether he chooses to be hero or coward, he must come to his end either way. This scroll is full of tension between peace (Diomedes and Glaukos) and war (Trojans and Greeks), love (Hektor and Andromache) and rage (Diomedes against Trojans; Agamemnon against all Trojans, even the unborn), nostos (returning home to wife and kids) and kleos (giving to society’s need for heroes and defending one’s people).
Zeus meets with Apollo and Athena. They agree that Hektor should challenge one of the Greeks to a fight. Everyone is seated and Hektor asks for one person to fight him. No one rises up to the challenge, and Hektor becomes mad. Menelaos was going to get up but King Agamemnon stopped him. Nestor the orator then gets up and speaks of Greek heroes past and rebukes the Greeks for not standing up to Hektor. Finally 9 people get up, and they cast lots. The lot fell on Ajax. Ajax arms himself and faces Hektor. They throw their spears and then fell upon on another. They pierce each others’ shields and Hektor suffers a neck wound, and as they continued to fight heralds from both sides came and told them to stop fighting because night was falling. They parted while exchanging gifts. King Agamemnon sacrificed a bull and they feasted. Nestor suggested that they cease fighting the next day and collect their dead and burn them, and to construct a high wall as well as a deep trench in defense against the Trojans.
In Troy, people are in disagreement over whether they should give up Helen. Paris disagrees and said that he would give up the wealth that came with her. King Priam decides that they should go down to the Greeks and ask for a ceasefire in order to bury the dead. The next day Idaeus went to the Trojans to deliver the terms: that they would return the treasure, but not Helen, and to ask for a ceasefire. The Trojans don’t agree to the treasure, but do agree to the ceasefire. Everyone collected their dead, and the Greeks made a pyre, then a common tomb, and a high wall. Poseidon was unhappy upon seeing this wall, because the Greeks haven’t taken the gods into counsel and was afraid the wall itself would have greater kleos than he would. Zeus reprimanded him saying that Poseidon can destroy the wall when the Greeks go home. The Greeks again laid out a banquet, but Zeus showed his displeasure with some thunder and they made offerings to him.
Zeus calls a council of all the gods again, and warns them not to cross his will. The others agree, but Athena once again pleads on behalf of the Greeks. Zeus then sat down on his throne at Ida. The Greeks and Trojans meet in battle. At noon, Zeus took the balance of fates, and the Greek side fell. Nestor horseman of Gerene was having trouble because one of his horses was struck. Diomedes was the only one left to help him. They mounted Diomedes’ chariot. Diomedes struck Hektor’s attendant Eniopeus. Hektor finds a new driver. Zeus flames a thunderbolt and it frightens Diomedes’ horses. Nestor advises Diomedes to turn back his horses. While turning, Hektor mocks Diomedes.
While Hektor boasts upon realizing that Zeus was in the Trojans’ favor, Hera is angry and asks Poseidon why he doesn’t do anything. Hera puts it in the mind of Agamemnon to encourage the Greeks so that the ships would not be burned. Agamemnon shouts encouragement to the Greeks and prays to Zeus. Zeus pities them and ruled that hey would not die, and sends an eagle with a young fawn in its talons. The Greeks take this sign as positive and ride out again on the offensive and kill many people. Teucer the archer especially had many hits. He keeps on aiming at Hektor but the gods save him. Hektor hurls a stone at Teucer and hits him at the collar-bone. The Trojans again drive the Greeks to the trench. Athena is angry that Zeus should favor Thetis. She and Hera were set to go out when Zeus sends Iris to stop them. She warns the goddesses that Zeus would lame their horses. Zeus tells them that the tides will not turn until Hektor forces Achilles to fight after the death of Patroklos. Night falls, and Hektor orders that watch fires be built so that the Greeks don’t escape by sea. They made offerings, but the gods did not partake in them.
Iliad Scroll 9
Agamemnon, with tears, says that the war is lost and suggests sailing back (IX v.12~). Then Diomedes says that he will fight until Troy falls (32~). Then Nestor suggest a feast for Agamemnons councilors (65~), and during the feast, he says that Agamemnon should try to bring Achilles back to the war (96~). Agamemnon says he will offer many gifts as well as Briseis (115~), and also offer his daughters (135~). Nestor suggests him to send Phoenix, Ajax, Odysseus, Odios, and Eurybates to go to Achilles’ tent (163~). Achilles, in his tent, is playing on a lyre next to Patroklos, and Odysseus and Ajax come in. Achilles treats them well with foods and drinks. Odysseus then persuades Achilles to come back to the battle, and he lists all the gifts that Agamemnon offers (225~306). Achilles tells him the wrongdoing of Agamemnon and says he won’t be bribed by anything (307~409), then also says Thetis’ foretelling that he will die if he choose to fight (410~). Pheonix then says to Achilles how and why he became a friend to Achilles and how important Achilles is for him, and urges him to accept Agamemnon’s offer (430~526). He then says a story (micronarrative) about the Curetes and Aetolians fighting each other for the head and skin of a boar sent by Artemis, and ends the story by again urging Achilles to come back (I think you should read this micronarrative)(527~605). Achilles answers no to him, and ask him not to serve Agamemnon (606~619). Ajax blames Achilles in hostile manner (620~643), but Achilles still remains adamant in his decision. The envoys, except Pheonix sleeping in Achilles’ tent, come back to Agamemnon’s tent and Odysseus delivers Achilles’ rejection ( 669~691). Then Diomedes tells that they should prepare to defend the ships in whatever possible ways without Ackilles, and other chieftains agree to his suggestion (692~713).
Iliad Scroll 10
Agamemnon and Menelaos is unable to sleep cause they are concerned. Agamemnon talk to Menelaos and order him to call Ajax and Idomeneus while he goes to wake up sleeping Nestor in his tent. After Agamemnon shows his anxiety and expresses that he want to wake others up as well, Nestor wakes up and go out to wake others up (87~). Nestor wakes up Diomedes and tell him to wake Ajax up. At the council where chiefs of the Achaeans called to be, Nestor suggests to send a scout to the Trojan camp , and Diomedes volunteers (203~226). Several others also volunteered and Agamemnon let Diomedes to choose who to go with, and Diomedes pick Odysseus (227~253). They pray to Pallas Athena and set out (254~295). In the Trojan camp, Hektor also seek for a scout, and Dolon, son of Eumedes, volunteers, but asks Hektor to make an oath to give him a chariot and Achilles’ horse (299~331). But Diomedes catches him alive by throwing a spear and purposely miss him thus Dolon will stop with fear (332~381). Dolon beg for life and Odysseus promises his life and ask him some informations, and Dolon answers them all (382~446). Then Diomedes kills him and Odysseus offer Dolon’s belongings to Athena (447~464). They then go to camps of Thrace, which they know from Dolon, that they are unprotected, and Odysseus free the horses and Diomedes slaughters many Thracians until Athena come to him and tell him to run away before Apollo wake up other Trojans (465~514). Achaeans welcome two warriors and Nestor asks where the horses from, and Odysseus tells him what happened (526~563). Then two warriors take a ritual bath (564~579)
The next morning, Zeus rains blood upon the Achaean lines, filling them with panic; they suffer a massacre during the first part of the day. But, by afternoon, they have begun to make progress. Agamemnon, splendidly armed, cuts down man after man and beats the Trojans back to the city’s gates. Zeus sends Iris to tell Hector that he must wait until Agamemnon is wounded and then begin his attack. Agamemnon soon receives his wound at the hands of Coon, Antenor’s son, just after killing Coon’s brother. The injured Agamemnon continues fighting and kills Coon, but his pain eventually forces him from the field.
Hector recognizes his cue and charges the Achaean line, driving it back. The Achaeans panic and stand poised to retreat, but the words of Odysseus and Diomedes imbue them with fresh courage. Diomedes then hurls a spear that hits Hector’s helmet. This brush with death stuns Hector and forces him to retreat. Paris answers the Achaeans’ act by wounding Diomedes with an arrow, thus sidelining the great warrior for the rest of the epic. Trojans now encircle Odysseus, left to fight alone. He beats them all off, but not before a man named Socus gives him a wound through the ribs. Great Ajax carries Odysseus back to camp before the Trojans can harm him further.
Hector resumes his assault on another part of the Achaean line. The Greeks initially hold him off, but they panic when the healer Machaon receives wounds at Paris’s hands. Hector and his men force Ajax to retreat as Nestor conveys Machaon back to his tent. Meanwhile, behind the lines, Achilles sees the injured Machaon fly by in a chariot and sends his companion Patroclus to inquire into Machaon’s status. Nestor tells Patroclus about all of the wounds that the Trojans have inflicted upon the Achaean commanders. He begs Patroclus to persuade Achilles to rejoin the battle—or at least enter the battle himself disguised in Achilles’ armor. This ruse would at least give the Achaeans the benefit of Achilles’ terrifying aura. Patroclus agrees to appeal to Achilles and dresses the wound of a man named Eurypylus, who has been injured fighting alongside Ajax.
We learn that the Achaean fortifications are doomed to be destroyed by the gods when Troy falls. They continue to hold for now, however, and the trench dug in front of them blocks the Trojan chariots. Undaunted, Hector, acting on the advice of the young commander Polydamas, orders his men to disembark from their chariots and storm the ramparts. Just as the Trojans prepare to cross the trenches, an eagle flies to the left-hand side of the Trojan line and drops a serpent in the soldiers’ midst. Polydamas interprets this event as a sign that their charge will fail, but Hector refuses to retreat. The Trojans Glaucus and Sarpedon now charge the ramparts, and Menestheus, aided by Great Ajax and Teucer, struggles to hold them back. Sarpedon makes the first breach, and Hector follows by shattering one of the gates with a boulder. The Trojans pour through the fortifications as the Achaeans, terrified, shrink back against the ships.
Zeus, happy with the war’s progress, takes his leave of the battlefield. Poseidon, eager to help the Achaeans and realizing that Zeus has gone, visits Little Ajax and Great Ajax in the form of Calchas and gives them confidence to resist the Trojan assault. He also rouses the rest of the Achaeans, who have withdrawn in tears to the sides of the ships. Their spirits restored, the Achaeans again stand up to the Trojans, and the two Aeantes (the plural of Ajax) prove successful in driving Hector back. When Hector throws his lance at Teucer, Teucer dodges out of the way, and the weapon pierces and kills Poseidon’s grandson Amphimachus. As an act of vengeance, Poseidon imbues Idomeneus with a raging power. Idomeneus then joins Meriones in leading a charge against the Trojans at the Achaeans’ left wing. Idomeneus cuts down a number of Trojan soldiers but hopes most of all to kill the warrior Deiphobus. Finding him on the battlefield, he taunts the Trojan, who summons Aeneas and other comrades to his assistance. In the long skirmish that ensues, Deiphobus is wounded, and Menelaus cuts down several Trojans.
Meanwhile, on the right, Hector continues his assault, but the Trojans who accompany him, having been mercilessly battered by the two Aeantes, have lost their vigor. Some have returned to the Trojan side of the fortifications, while those who remain fight from scattered positions. Polydamas persuades Hector to regroup his forces. Hector fetches Paris and tries to gather his comrades from the left end of the line—only to find them all wounded or dead. Great Ajax insults Hector, and an eagle appears on Ajax’s right, a favorable omen for the Achaeans.
Nestor leaves the wounded Machaon in his tent and goes to meet the other wounded Achaean commanders out by the ships. The men scan the battlefield and realize the terrible extent of their losses. Agamemnon proposes giving up and setting sail for home. Odysseus wheels on him and declares this notion cowardly and disgraceful. Diomedes urges them all to the line to rally their troops. As they set out, Poseidon encourages Agamemnon and gives added strength to the Achaean army.
Hera spots Zeus on Mount Ida, overlooking Troy, and devises a plan to distract him so that she may help the Achaeans behind his back. She visits Aphrodite and tricks her into giving her an enchanted breastband into which the powers of Love and Longing are woven, forceful enough to make the sanest man go mad. She then visits the embodiment of Sleep, and by promising him one of her daughters in marriage, persuades him to lull Zeus to sleep. Sleep follows her to the peak of Mount Ida; disguised as a bird, he hides in a tree. Zeus sees Hera, and the enchanted band seizes him with passion. He makes love to Hera and, as planned, soon falls asleep. Hera then calls to Poseidon, telling him that he now has free reign to steer the Achaeans to victory. Poseidon regroups them, and they charge the Trojans. In the ensuing scuffle, Great Ajax knocks Hector to the ground with a boulder, and the Trojans must carry the hero back to Troy. With Hector gone, the Achaeans soon trounce their enemies, and Trojans die in great numbers as the army flees back to the city.
Zeus wakes and sees the havoc that Hera and Poseidon have wreaked while he dozed in his enchanted sleep. Hera tries to blame Poseidon, but Zeus comforts her by making clear that he has no personal interest in a Trojan victory over the Achaeans. He tells her that he will again come to their aid, but that Troy is still fated to fall and that Hector will die after he kills Patroclus. He then asks Hera to summon Iris and Apollo. Iris goes to order Poseidon to leave the battlefield, which Poseidon reluctantly agrees to do, while Apollo seeks out Hector and fills him and his comrades with fresh strength. Hector leads a charge against the Achaeans, and while their leaders initially hold their ground, they retreat in terror when Apollo himself enters the battle. Apollo covers over the trench in front of the Greek fortifications, allowing the Trojans to beat down the ramparts once again.
The armies fight all the way to the ships and very nearly into the Greek camp. At the base of the ships, furious hand-to-hand fighting breaks out. Great Ajax and Hector again tangle. The archer Teucer fells several Trojans, but Zeus snaps his bowstring when he takes aim at Hector. Ajax encourages his troops from the decks of the ships, but Hector rallies the Trojans, and inch by inch the Trojans advance until Hector is close enough to touch a ship.
Meanwhile, Patroclus goes to Achilles’ tent and begs to be allowed to wear Achilles’ armor if Achilles still refuses to rejoin the battle himself. Achilles declines to fight but agrees to the exchange of armor, with the understanding that Patroclus will fight only long enough to save the ships. As Patroclus arms himself, the first ship goes up in flames. Achilles sends his Myrmidon soldiers, who have not been fighting during their commander’s absence, out to accompany Patroclus. He then prays to Zeus that Patroclus may return with both himself and the ships unharmed. The poet reveals, however, that Zeus will grant only one of these prayers.
With the appearance of Patroclus in Achilles’ armor the battle quickly turns, and the Trojans retreat from the Achaean ships. At first, the line holds together, but when Hector retreats, the rest of the Trojans become trapped in the trenches. Patroclus now slaughters every Trojan he encounters. Zeus considers saving his son Sarpedon, but Hera persuades him that the other gods would either look down upon him for it or try to save their own mortal offspring in turn. Zeus resigns himself to Sarpedon’s mortality. Patroclus soon spears Sarpedon, and both sides fight over his armor. Hector returns briefly to the front in an attempt to retrieve the armor.
Zeus decides to kill Patroclus for slaying Sarpedon, but first he lets him rout the Trojans. Zeus then imbues Hector with a temporary cowardice, and Hector leads the retreat. Patroclus, disobeying Achilles, pursues the Trojans all the way to the gates of Troy. Homer explains that the city might have fallen at this moment had Apollo not intervened and driven Patroclus back from the gates. Apollo persuades Hector to charge Patroclus, but Patroclus kills Cebriones, the driver of Hector’s chariot. Trojans and Achaeans fight for Cebriones’ armor. Amid the chaos, Apollo sneaks up behind Patroclus and wounds him, and Hector easily finishes him off. Hector taunts the fallen man, but with his dying words Patroclus foretells Hector’s own death.