Book 22 Notes from The Iliad

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The Iliad Book 22

As all the troops of Troy catch their breath within its walls, Hector stands at the gates to withstand the coming raid. Achilles still chases Apollo who turns and tells him that it is impossible to kill him. Achilles turns back towards the city and Priam sees him coming like "the star that rears at harvest, flaming up in its brilliance." (Book 22, 32-33) Priam tells his son not to stand up against Achilles and laments the death of Polydorus (1) and Lycaon. Priam pleads with Hector, begging him to fight from within the walls. Hecuba sounds her agreement. Hector makes his own decision and awaits Achilles:

"As a snake in the hills, guarding his hole, awaits a man -
Bloated with poison, deadly hatred seething inside him,
Glances flashing fire as he coils around his lair..."
Book 22, lines 111-113

Hector probes his own heart and knows that there is no way out for him. He considers promising Achilles Helen and all her treasures, but he knows that Achilles will attack him anyway.

Topic Tracking: Nature Imagery 19
Topic Tracking: Rage 17

Achilles arrives with his spear and Hector starts to tremble. The Trojan hero flees around the walls of the city, pursued by Achilles who is "fast...as the wild mountain hawk." (Book 22, lines 164-165) Zeus watches this and finds it unbearable. He asks the other gods to decide Hector's fate. Athena reminds Zeus that Hector's fate has already been sealed. Athena goes to Troy after Hector has circled the city three times and takes the shape of Deiphobus. She tells Hector that they will face Achilles together. Hector turns to face his opponent.

Before they clash, Hector attempts to make a pact for the safety of the loser's body, but Achilles is deaf to his plans:

"...don't talk to me of pacts.
There are no binding oaths between men and lions -
Wolves and lambs can enjoy no meeting of the minds -
They are all bent on hating each other to the death.
So with you and me. No love between us. No truce
Till one or the other falls and gluts with blood
Ares who hacks at men behind his rawhide shield."
Book 22, lines 309-315

Achilles throws his spear first and misses. Hector throws his and hits Achilles' shield. He turns to Deiphobus for another spear and knows he is about to die when the man is nowhere to be seen.

Topic Tracking: Divine Intervention 31
Topic Tracking: Nature Imagery 20

Hector draws his sword and attacks. After examining his weaknesses, Achilles strikes Hector in the windpipe. Hector begs that his body be spared, but Achilles swears that the dogs will maul his flesh. Hector, in his dying breath, foretells the death of his adversary:

"I know you well - I see my fate before me.
Never a chance that I could win you over...
Iron inside your chest, that heart of yours.
But now beware, or my curse will draw god's wrath
Upon your head, that day when Paris and lord Apollo -
For all your fighting heart - destroy you at the Scaean gates!"
Book 22, lines 419-424

Other Greeks rush up to taunt and stab the body. Achilles orders the city to be surrounded and then stops himself, wishing to bury Patroclus first. He ties Hector's body from the ankles to the back of his chariot and drags him along. Priam burns to help his son. Andromache is still ignorant of her husband's death. When she hears the mourning she rushes out and laments her fate her son's.

Topic Tracking: Divine Intervention 32

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