Book 13 Notes from The Iliad

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The Iliad Book 13

The Trojan troops come to a stalemate with the Greeks near their ships. Zeus, still resting on Mount Ida, turns his eyes away from the battle to other affairs. Poseidon recognizes that his brother is not paying attention and takes advantage of this to help the Greeks. The Trojans swarm like a raging flame. Poseidon assumes the form of Calchas and inspires Ajax Telamon and Ajax Oilean with strength and fighting force. The lesser Ajax recognizes that he is a god. The two feel this new strength and reinvigorate the battle. Poseidon tells the two that the Trojans are weak, depending on the strength of Hector alone. The voice of the god rolls over the Greek army and strengthens them:

"... Here were the best picked men
Detached in squads to stand the Trojan charge
And shining Hector, a wall of them bulked together
Spear-by-spear, shield-by-shield, the rims overlapping,
Buckler-to-buckler, helm-to-helm, man-to-man massed tight
And the horsehair crests on glittering helmet horns brushed
As they tossed their heads, the battalions bulked so dense
Shoulder-to-shoulder close, and the spears they shook
In daring hands packed into jagged lines of battle
Single minded fighters facing straight ahead,
Achaeans primed for combat."
Book 13, lines 151-152

This iron Phalanx repulses the wave of Trojan attackers. Hector calls his troops together. Meriones takes aim and hurls his spear at the Trojan Deiphobus. The spear hits him but shatters on his shield. Teucer, the Greek archer, kills a man along with Ajax Telamon, who is able to drive Hector back. Imbrius, the son of Poseidon, is killed in the charge and Poseidon returns to help the Greeks. He takes the form of Thoas (3) and inspires Idomeneus to fight more bravely. Idomeneus returns to battle compared to a lightning bolt. Meriones runs in to him coming from the camps and asks him for a spear. Idomeneus offers him a spear from his collection explaining that it is not his way to fight from a distance, but he would rather be in the thick of combat. Meriones picks a spear and the two men return to combat. Idomeneus points out the courage of Ajax Telamon, alleging that he would be able to stand up even to Achilles. With their return to battle many Trojans flee. The chaos of the battle is compared to a strong gale whipping up dust ; Idomeneus is said to be fierce as fire. The spirits of Zeus and Poseidon struggle against each other. Zeus really only wants glory for Thetis and Achilles and does not intend to harm the Greek armies, but Poseidon must operate in secret, pushing on the Greek lines.

Topic Tracking: Divine Intervention 17
Topic Tracking: Nature Imagery 11

Idomeneus tries kills a Trojan whom Asius tries to save. In turn, Asius is struck by Idomeneus and Deiphobus rushes forward to save him. Alcathous also falls, and Deiphobus tries to guard his body. Idomeneus taunts Deiphobus and Deiphobus calls Aeneas to help him. Diomedes relays the fate of Alcathous to Aeneas and he becomes enraged rushing at the unflinching Idomeneus:

"he stood his ground like a wild mountain boar,
Trusting his strength, standing up to a rout of men
That scream and swoop against him off in a lonely copse,
The ridge of his back bristling, his eyes flashing fire,
He grinds his teeth, champing to beat back dogs and men."
Book 13, lines 545-549

Idomeneus stands up to the charge and calls his companions to help him. Aeneas does the same. Aeneas hurls and misses Idomeneus, but Deiphobus hits his companion. Meriones attacks him and wounds his arm. <Another Trojan guides Deiphobus back to Troy. Aeneas keeps attacking. Trojans surround Antilochus. A Trojan strikes Antilochus but Meriones spears him between the genitals and the navel.

Topic Tracking: Nature Imagery 12

Helenus kills a Greek captain and enrages Menelaus. He shoots at Menelaus, but it bounces off his armor. Menelaus shoots back at Helenus and pierces his hand. Pisander (2) rushes at Menelaus. Both men strike at the same time but Menelaus hits and kills his opponent. Menelaus curses Zeus and states that most men would desire to engage in many other things besides war, but not Trojans. Another Trojan charges Menelaus, but is cut down by Meriones, Paris becomes enraged and kills another man.

Hector continues to fight. Ajax and other Greeks begin to hurl missiles and arrows at the Trojans. Polydamas is forced to pull Hector away from the battle. Hector orders Polydamas and returns to the battle to find his captains. He finds many hurt and some dead. He runs into Paris and accuses him of being at fault for the deaths. In his new rage, Ajax challenges him and the armies collide.

Topic Tracking: Rage 8

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