Books 13-16

BOOK 13 - The Achaeans Fight Back

Having brought success to the Trojans, Zeus turns his eyes away from the conflict, thinking that none of the other immortal gods will attempt to intervene. As it is, Poseidon, a staunch supporter of the Achaeans, decides that this is an opportunity to bring some aid to his favourites who are suffering so badly. Therefore, he rallies the Achaeans, especially around the figure of Idomeneus, the leader of the Cretans. This new intervention provides some success for the Achaeans and in particular results in the significant killing of Askalaphus, the son of Ares, whose body is then fiercely fought over. By the end of the book, Hector is attempting to regain the upper hand but the Achaeans succeed in resisting.

BOOK 14 - Zeus Seduced

Nestor, hearing the din of battle, leaves his hut where he has been entertaining Machaon, the wounded soldier spied by Achilles in Book 11. He sees the confusion that engulfs the Achaeans now that their wall has been penetrated. A meeting ensues between Nestor and the three injured Achaean leaders, Agamemnon, Odysseus and Diomedes, all of whom are on their way to watch the fighting having come up from their ships. Agamemnon, downcast at the change of fortunes, advises that they flee Troy immediately. He is rebuked by Odysseus for even considering such a cowardly plan, a rebuke that he accepts but asks what else they can do. Diomedes then suggests that all three of them re-enter the battlefield, but stay at some distance from the hub of the fighting, so that they might not add to the wounds they already have but might inspire the others. This plan is agreed upon and they all set off to rejoin the fray.

The scene now switches to Olympus and the pro-Achaean gods, who are intent on bringing aid to their side, even if it means fouling Zeus' plan. Poseidon encourages the Achaeans further, while Hera decides to distract Zeus in order that, through Poseidon's continued help, the Achaeans might be victorious. Therefore, having made herself beautiful and having tricked Aphrodite into lending her her magic band, Hera seduces Zeus. With the aid of the god Sleep, she persuades him to sleep with her on Mount Ida and while, after the act, he slumbers, Poseidon brings more success to the Achaeans, particularly when Hector is removed from the fighting, after being hit by a stone thrown by Ajax.

BOOK 15 - The Achaeans Driven Back Once More

Zeus awakes from his slumber to see the Achaeans regaining the initiative and Hector lying dazed on the plain. He angrily berates and threatens Hera. Suitably cowed, she denies any responsibility for Poseidon's actions and promises her own support for Zeus from now on. Zeus now turns to prophecy and foretells the deaths of Sarpedon, Patroclus and Hector and the fall of Troy. Then, having summoned Poseidon, he orders him to interfere no more. Reluctantly, Poseidon agrees to obey and returns to the sea.

Apollo, at Zeus' behest, now enters the fray to revive the Trojans, particularly Hector. Given this aid, they force the Achaeans back over the ditch and the wall and back to their ships. Hector is again triumphant, shown in all his glory and, at the end of the book, we are left with the image of him holding one of the ships and demanding fire to set them alight. Only Ajax, who alone of the Achaean heroes has provided successful resistance, is present to try to prevent him.

BOOK 16 - The Death of Patroclus

Patroclus, meanwhile, has been tending to Eurypylus in a hut, from where he has been able to see the trouble that the Achaeans are in. Now he rushes to Achilles and, as Nestor suggested, implores him to let him borrow his armour and lead the Myrmidons into battle. To this Achilles agrees, but only on the proviso that Patroclus return after he has driven the Trojans away from the ships and does not make any effort to pursue them to Troy.

On the battlefield, Ajax's resistance is finally broken, he is driven back and one of the ships is set alight. Seeing this, Achilles urges his friend into the fray. Having armed and gathered themselves, and after a libation and prayer from Achilles, Patroclus and the Myrmidons enter the fighting and are soon able to put out the fire and drive back the Trojans. Sarpedon, the leader of the Lycians and son of Zeus, faces Patroclus and is killed. A lengthy contest takes place for the retrieval of his body. Patroclus, however, ignoring Achilles' demand, does not retire from the fighting, but instead drives on towards Troy. Initially, he is successful and it even seems possible that Troy might be captured. Finally, though, he is met by

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