Book 14 Notes from The Iliad

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The Iliad Book 14

Nestor hears the mounting cries of the battle and puts on his armor. He goes out into the fray to be stunned by the spectacle. He cannot decide whether to search for Agamemnon or to join the soldiers defending the ships. Diomedes, Odysseus and Agamemnon come to him, tired from the battle. They ask him why he is not fighting in the lines and tell him that Hector plans to burn the ships. Nestor asks him "how on earth can a wounded man make war?" Book 14, line 76 Agamemnon laments that the walls are useless and again expresses his desire to retreat to Greece, that it is better to flee death than to feel its grip. Odysseus turns on the word of the king and berates him, calling him a disaster. Odysseus explains that the Greek soldiers will not hold their positions if they see their captains preparing the ships for flight. Agamemnon claims that he is not the kind of man who would order someone against their will and asks for a better plan. Diomedes speaks to the group. He tries to counter the fact that he is almost too young to be taken seriously by invoking his noble birth. He encourages the captains to return to the battle and be seen by their troops. They should not fight too hard, because they are wounded, but they should encourage their men. The captains agree to this plan and Agamemnon leads them back into battle.

Poseidon watches all of this and takes on the form of a veteran soldier. He approaches Agamemnon and tells him that he is blessed and under divine protection. He curses Achilles for his cowardice and promises Agamemnon that the time will come when the Trojans retreat to their own walls.

Topic Tracking: Divine Intervention 18

Hera watches the entire battle and also notices that Zeus has turned his attention elsewhere. She dresses in all her glory and plans to overwhelm Zeus with seduction. She goes to Aphrodite and asks to borrow 'love' and her powers so that she will be able to reunite Mother Tethys and Ocean. Aphrodite buys her excuse and gives her what she asks for in the form of a breastband. Hera then goes to Sleep, the twin brother of death and asks him if he will put Zeus to sleep. She offers him a great throne made by Hephaestus for his services. Sleep is afraid to help her because he has been hurt before by the wrath of Zeus when he tried to put him to sleep at her beckon as she tried to carry off Heracles. He says he will not try to do the impossible. Hera tells him that Zeus does not value Troy in the same way that he valued Heracles. Sleep asks for Pasithea as a gift for his services and Hera swears an oath in agreement.

Sleep and Hera go to Mount Ida. Lust overcomes Zeus as he gazes at his wife. Hera tells Zeus the same story about Mother Tethys and Ocean, but Zeus tells her not to hurry because he has never lusted so much before. Hera asks him how it would be possible for them to avoid shame making love out in the open, and suggests they return to his bed on Mount Olympus. Zeus cloaks them with a cloud. Soon Sleep conquers Zeus and the brother of Death goes to Poseidon to tell him what has happened.

Poseidon leaps into the front lines of the battle and encourages the Greeks telling them to put on their larger shields. Hector drives the Trojans against the Greeks and the battle raises a terrible sound:

"Not so loud the breakers bellowing out against the shore,
Driven in from the open sea by the North Wind's brutal blast,
Not so load the roar of fire whipped to a crackling blaze
Rampaging into a mountain gorge raging up through timber
Not so loud the gale that howls in the leafy crowns of oaks
when it hits its pitch of fury tearing branches down -
Nothing so loud as cries of Trojans, cries of Achaeans,
Terrible war cries, armies storming against each other."
Book 14, lines 467-474

The din of this battle supercedes the greatest sounds of nature. Hector strikes Ajax but cannot pierce his armor and is hit by a rock in turn. The Trojans protect their wounded hero and drag him back to the river Xanthus where he vomits. With the wounding of Hector, the Greeks become even more excited. Ajax kills more men. The Trojans are driven into a rout.

Topic Tracking: Nature Imagery 13
Topic Tracking: Divine Intervention 19
Topic Tracking: Rage 9

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