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Section 1Edit

"But I am willing to give her back, even so,

if that is best for all. What I really want

is to keep my people safe, not see them dying.

But fetch me another prize, and straight off too,

else I alone of the Argives go without my honor.

That would be a disgrace. You are all witness,

look - my prize is snatched away!" (Agamemnon, 1.135-141)

These crucial lines illustrate Agamemnon's anguish at losing Chryseis, and issuing his demand for recompense - foreshadowing his seizure of Achilles' prize Bryseis, which sends Achilles on the rage the novel is based upon and the cause of the Argive's future defeats.


"It wasn't Trojan spearmen who brought me here to fight.

The Trojans never did me damage, not in the least..."

...No, you colossal, shameless - we all followed you,

to please you, to fight for you, to win your honor

back from the Trojans - Menelaus and you, you dog-face! (Achilles, 1.179-180, 1.185-188)

Here Achilles publicly denounces Agamemnon and Menelaus for the war, saying that all the Argives fight for their honor and glory while their comrades are slain. Achilles claims that he has no personal vendetta with the Trojans, and later even threatens to leave the fight rather than take Agamemnon's abuses.


But as soon as magnificent Paris marked Atrides

shining among the champions, Paris's spirit shook.

Backing into his friendly ranks, he cringed from death (3.34-36)

Homer describes Paris' cowardice in this line, which best characterizes him. He is shown throughout the book as a coward, one who abstains from battle, one who prefers to stay with women rather than fight with men. Hector then immediately chastises him for creating this war without wanting to fight in it.

But Zeus who marshals storm clouds lowered a dark glance

and let loose at Ares: "No more, you lying, two-faced...

You, I hate you most of all the Olympian gods...

You have your mother's uncontrollable rage" (5.1027, 1028, 1030, 1033)

Zeus yells at Ares for complaining of Athena's unchecked participation in the war, claiming that Zeus is particularly loving of her and not the others. Zeus replies here by saying that he hates Ares deeply, and later goes on to tell Ares to respect him, for he is his father. This section characterizes three things: Zeus' affinity for Athena, his dominance over the gods, and Ares' extreme blood lust and rage, for which all Olympus hates him.


The archer loosed a fresh shaft from the bowstring

straight for Hector, his spirit longing to hit him-

but he missed and cut Gorgythion down instead...

Quick with another arrow,

the archer let fly from his bowstring straight for Hector,

his spirit straining to hit him - shot and missed again

as Apollo skewed his shaft (8.342-344, 354-357)

These two encounters are a symbol of Hector's near invincibility, the love the gods have for him, and the desire from the Argives to see him fallen. The archer Teucer, who had been on a kill streak, sees Hector and aims for him. However, because of Hector's luck and divine intervention, he misses twice, wounding instead Achilles' comrades. Achilles later attacks Teucer, but Telemonian Ajax comes to his rescue.

Section 2Edit

Oileus' son alerted Telamon's son at once:

"Ajax, since one of the gods who hold Olympus,

a god in a prophet's shape, spurs us on to fight

beside the ships-and I tell you he's not Calchas...

...no mistaking the gods.

And now, what's more, the courage inside my chest

is racing faster for action, full frontal assault-

feet quiver beneath me, hands high for the onset!"


And Telemonian Ajax joined him, calling out,

"I can feel it too, now, the hands on my spear...

...the power rising within me, feet beneath me rushing on!

I even long to meet this Hector in single combat,

blaze as he does nonstop for bloody war!" (13.82-85,88-97)

Greater and lesser Ajax's character foil is typically symbolized by their complimentary fighting styles and abilities. This paragraph however shows that they not only help each other in combat physically but also mentally. Lesser Ajax speaks that he saw a god (and not the prophet Calchas), which is cause for hype and adrenaline - the gods are with them in battle. Greater Ajax response with excitement as well, going so far even as to speak of fighting the apparently invincible Hector.

Queen Hera wondered, her eyes glowing wide...

how could she outmaneuver Zeus the mastermind,

this Zeus with his battle-shield of storm and thunder?

At last one strategy struck her mind as best:

she would dress in all her glory and go to Ida-

perhaps the old desire would overwhelm the king

to lie by her naked body and make immortal love

and she might drift an oblivious, soft war sleep

across his eyes and numb the seething brain. (14.195-203)

This scene characterizes Hera's cunning nature. She is able to manipulate her husband in order to see her desires met. 


"...mighty Agamemnon,

that son of Atreus! Treating me like some vagabond,

some outcast stripped of all my rights...

Enough.

Let bygones be bygones now. Done is done.

How on earth can a man rage on forever?" (16.65-70)

In these important lines, Achilles expresses his resignation of ire. After complaining and moping for 15 books while all of his Achaean allies struggle and die, he accepts Agamemnon's seizure of his girl Briseis and allows his rage to subside. This is only, however, after Patroclus begs Achilles to allow him to fight in Achilles' armor against the Trojans, who had pushed the Achaeans to their final, littoral defenses, and threatened to burn the ships.

Then at the foruth assault Patroclus like something superhuman--

then, Patroclus, the end of life came blazing up before you,

yes, the lord Apollo met you there in the heart of battle,

the god, the terror!...

Death cut him short. The end closed in around him. Flying free of his limbs

his soul went winging down to the House of Death. (16.914-917, 1001-1003)

After killing dozens and bringing the Achaeans all the way from certain defeat at their ships to the very ramparts of Troy, Patroclus is struck down by the god Apollo, as no mortal Trojan could defeat him. It is his death that sends Achilles on his second rage: not of losing his prize, but of losing his best friend, a terrible war fury that ends with Hector's death.

Godlike Achilles gloried over him:

"Hector--surely you thought when you stripped Petroclus' armor

that you, you would be safe! Never a fear of me.

...the dogs and birds will maul you, shame your corpse

while Achaeans bury my dear friend in glory!"


Struggling for breath, Hector, his helmet flashing,

said, "I beg you, beg you by your life, your parents-

don't let the dogs devour me by the Argive ships!"


Staring grimly, the proud runner Achilles answered,

"Beg no more, you fawning dog...

No man alive could keep the dog-packs off you." (22.389-391, 396-397, 398-400, 404-405, 411)

After delivering the fatal blow that kills Hector, Achilles promises him that he will ensure Hector's body is defiled by dogs and birds, not buried in honor, while his dear friend Patroclus is given a king's funeral. Hector pleads not to let it be so, that his parents will pay a ransom for his body, begging him by even his parents, but Achilles in his anger denies him this, promising only suffering.

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