The gathering disperses and the Achaeans set their minds to eating and sleeping. Achilles, though, cannot sleep, but keeps up his grief for Patroclus. Every night he ends up pacing the sea-shore and seeing the sun rise, at which point he ties Hector's body to his chariot and drags it three times around his friend's tomb. The gods look on in pity for Hector's suffering, despite Apollo's preservation of his body. Eventually, after eleven days, there is a divine assembly, at which Hera voices her continued hate for the Trojans and accuses the other gods, particularly Apollo, of treachery if they allow Achilles' glory to be sullied by concern for Hector. To this, Zeus replies that Hector too was loved by the gods and demands that Thetis be brought before him that he might suggest a plan to her that would be amenable to both sides.

Thetis, having been informed of the plan, is dispatched to Achilles to tell him of the gods' displeasure and to request that he release the body for ransom. At the same time, Iris is sent to Priam to instruct him to go to Achilles bringing ransom. Hecabe tries to persuade her husband not to obey these commands, but he ignores her protestations and determines to set out. As he prepares the ransom, he berates the remaining Trojan men and his other sons for still being alive, while Hector is dead.

Setting out in darkness, he is met on the plain by a disguised Hermes, sent at Zeus' command, who leads him to Achilles' hut. On arrival, he silently supplicates Achilles, clasping his knees and kissing his hands. Achilles is reminded of his own father and is moved to join Priam in lamenting their predicament and to feel pity for him. His response is a coherent realisation and expounding of the suffering that engulfs Priam and Hector, Peleus and himself, and indeed the whole human race, in its relation to a world ruled by Fate and the gods.

He lifts Hector's body onto the bier and invites Priam to share the offerings of hospitality - food and a bed. In addition, he agrees to prevent the Achaean army from resuming the conflict until Priam has had enough time to give his son due burial.

The next morning, Priam is woken by Hermes, who accompanies him out of the Achaean camp. As he approaches the gates of Troy with Hector's body, the whole city grieves. Andromache, Hecabe and Helen lead the lamentation. The Trojans spend nine days preparing for the funeral and the final scene of the poem sees Hector given the burial due to him as a hero.

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