Book 10 Notes from The Iliad

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The Iliad Book 10

During the night Agamemnon is restless. He gets up and looks with horror at the fires of the Trojan camps. He goes to Nestor and runs into Menelaus who is also unable to sleep. The brothers speak and Agamemnon tells Menelaus to go and wake Ajax Telamon. When he finds Nestor, he expresses his concern about the coming day and the raging fires. Nestor tells him that he should not be concerned but that he should be angry with Menelaus because they are awake while Menelaus is sleeping. Agamemnon explains that Menelaus is actually awake and Nestor rescinds his comments. Nestor dresses and puts on his armor and gathers the rest of the captains. Odysseus wakes up Diomedes who is upset to be woken. All the chiefs climb into the trench and Nestor asks if anyone is brave enough to make a raid on the Greek camp. Diomedes volunteers to go with companions. Many of the chiefs raise their hands, but Diomedes picks Odysseus to accompany him. The pair prepare to go and when they leave, Athena gives them a sign:

"Athena winged a heron close to their path
And veering right. Neither man could see it
Scanning the night sky, they only heard its cry."
Book 10, lines 322-344

Both men pray to Athena in gratitude for the sign asking for protection. Diomedes promises a sacrifice if they are successful. The two are like "lions stalking through the carnage and the corpses." Book 10, lines 348-349

Topic Tracking: Divine Intervention 14
Topic Tracking: Nature Imagery 7

The Trojans, however, are not sleeping. Hector stirs up the chiefs challenging the men to go on a night raid. Dolon, who is not much to look at but quick on his feet, volunteers. Diomedes and Odysseus see him coming despite the darkness. They follow him and lie down with the corpses. At first he assumes they are friends, but he realizes his danger when they cut him off and Diomedes throws a spear ahead of him to stop him.

Dolon offers a rich ransom to the pair in return for his safety. Odysseus tells him that death is his last concern. Dolon asserts that Hector tricked him into going on a night raid and Odysseus laughs as he interrogates him. Dolon tells him everything, that the army is awake but the wives and their friends are sleeping near by. He talks about King Rhesus and his horses. With this Diomedes kills him and the two men move like lions into the Thracian camp. They kill sleeping men as a lion kills the unguarded flock. After twelve murders they find King Rhesus and kill him. They run back to their camp with the horses at the bidding of Athena. Apollo, having watched all this, rouses a Trojan, who begins to defend the Thracian camp. The Trojans come to his defense, but it is too late because Odysseus and Diomedes have already made it back to Greek ranks. Nestor prays for them as they arrive and the pair pours libations to Athena.

Topic Tracking: Nature Imagery 8
Topic Tracking: Divine Intervention 15

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