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Book 19 Notes from The Iliad

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The Iliad Book 19

Dawn rises on Achilles still sobbing on the ground. Thetis approaches him and attempts to rouse him:

"My child leave your friend to lie there dead -
We must, though it breaks our hearts...
The will of the gods has crushed him once for all
But here Achilles, accept this glorious armor, look,
A gift from the god of fire - burnished bright, finer
Than any mortal has ever borne across his back!"
Book 19, lines 8-14

Achilles is thrilled by the armor. Thetis promises him that she will protect his companion's body. Achilles marches out and leads even the ships' rowers to battle. Achilles goes to Agamemnon and acknowledges the foolishness of their fighting and says that his rage towards him has ended. Agamemnon says that Zeus and fate made him insane and offers Achilles the gifts he had promised before. Achilles says that he is eager to fight but Odysseus tells him that he should rest and eat first. He also advises that the kings should display war booty to the men to incite a new fervor over war. He tells Achilles to let Agamemnon swear that he never made love to Briseis and that he should have a feast with him as a peace offering. Agamemnon agrees. Achilles still wants to fight as they talk about preparing an oath and a sacrifice. He says that if they rest they will lose their fury. Odysseus respond that though Achilles is stronger, he is wiser and they should rest and bury their dead.

The sacrifices and oaths are made. Agamemnon tells the Greeks to feast. Briseis weeps over the death of Patroclus because he was always kind to her. Memories overcome Achilles and he continues to fast. He addresses his fallen comrade:

"... I am sick with longing for you!
There is no more shattering blow that I could suffer.
Not even if I should learn of my father's death."
Book 19, lines 381-383

All the Greek captains mourn. Zeus observes that Achilles is fasting and reprimands Athena. Athena strengthens Achilles by planting ambrosia and honey in his chest.

After the feast the troops move out as "thick and fast as the snow." (Book 19, line 422). Achilles dresses in his armor and draws his father's spear. Automedon and another Greek help him hook up his war team. His horses are named Roan Beauty and Charger. Hera gives a voice to Roan Beauty:

"Our team could race with the rush of the West Wind,
The strongest, swiftest blast on earth, men say -
Still you are doomed to die by force Achilles,
Cut down by a deathless god and mortal man!"
Book 19, lines 491-494

Achilles acknowledges his fate and rushes out to battle.

Topic Tracking: Divine Intervention 25
Topic Tracking: Nature Imagery 17

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