Books 5-8

BOOK 5 - Success for Diomedes

The fighting continues and is dominated by the figure of Diomedes, who, inspired by Athena, wreaks havoc among the Trojans. The gods fight on both sides, and Athena encourages Diomedes to attack those fighting for the Trojans. As a result, he manages to wound Ares and Aphrodite, the latter of whom rushes in distress to her mother Dione and is comforted on her lap. Diomedes continues his attacks and makes repeated attempts to wound Apollo. Finally, Apollo warns him off, telling him not to think of himself as the gods' equal. A note of caution that echoes that of Dione earlier in the book, who states that mortals who fight gods never return home to have their children sit on their laps.

BOOK 6 - Hector in Troy

The gods now remove themselves from the fighting. The Trojans' line is broken, and they are driven back towards the city. Hector is persuaded by his brother Helenus to enter the city and encourage the women to make offerings to Athena, in the hope that she will curb Diomedes' murderous assaults.

As Hector makes his way, Diomedes and the Lycian Glaucus meet on the battlefield. However, before they fight, they address each other and realise that they are linked by the guest-friendship of their families. Amid much joyful celebration, they exchange armour, a transaction that results in Glaucus losing out dramatically.

The rest of the book is set in Troy. Hector first makes his way to Priam's palace, where he is met by his mother, Hecabe, who offers him wine to restore his strength. This he rejects and instead tells her to take offerings and promises of future sacrifice to the temple of Athena and ask the goddess to restrain Diomedes. He himself vows that he will fetch Paris. Hecabe does as she is told, but Athena refuses to grant her prayer.

Hector now rushes to Paris' house, where he finds him tending to his armour, while Helen supervises her maids. He attacks Paris for hanging back from the fighting. Paris accepts the validity of this charge and says that Helen has just persuaded him to return to battle anyway, and that he will arm himself swiftly and catch Hector up. Helen then bemoans her own character and that of her husband, both of which have caused such trouble and she bids Hector sit down. Far more tenderly than in his exchange with his brother Hector addresses Helen, rejecting her offer and telling her to encourage Paris to action.

Hector now makes his way to his own house. His wife, Andromache, is not there but at the great tower of Ilios with their baby and his nurse. She has moved there because she has heard that the Trojans are in trouble. Hector, when he is told where she is, heads there but meets her on the way at the Scaean gates. She tells him that his own spirit will destroy him and that he has no pity for her or their son, Astyanax ('Lord of the City'). She relates how her father and seven brothers were all previously killed by Achilles in another conflict and how, before her release and subsequent death at her father's house, her mother had been his concubine. She begs him not to go back to the war and even advises him on military tactics. Hector says that he cannot be a coward, but must return to the fighting. He states that he knows that Troy and her people will fall, but that, paradoxically, he must fight to his death in order not to hear the screams of Andromache as she is carried away to become a concubine to an Achaean hero. Having said this, he reaches out to take his son, who shrinks from his father's helmet and its horse-hair crest. Both Hector and Andromache laugh and, removing the helmet, he takes him in his arms and prays to Zeus that his son may be a greater man than he is and a future leader of the Trojans. Finally, he says to Andromache that it is impossible to escape Fate and that she should return to her work at the loom and the distaff.

Andromache makes her way home, where she sets all the servant-women to lamentation for Hector. Meanwhile, Paris meets up with Hector and they head out together onto the battlefield.

BOOK 7 - Hector and Ajax

Hector's and Paris' reappearance lifts the Trojans and they enjoy some success. However, Athena and Apollo decide that the general hostilities must cease and a single duel between Hector and an Achaean

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