The Iliad Book 5
Book 5 continues the graphic warfare that ends Book 4. This book begins with the exploits of the Greek captain Diomedes whom the goddess Athena inspires with strength and daring. This action continues the practice of divine intervention begun with Zeus' dream for Agamemnon in Book 2. Athena, seeing Ares, the god of war in the battle, takes him by the hand and leads him away saying that they should let the mortals fight for themselves. The Greeks continue to rout the Trojans. Menelaus, Agamemnon, Meriones, Idomeneus and Eurypylus each kill a Trojan. Diomedes continues to rage through the battle:
"did he rampage now with the Trojans or the Argives?
Down the plain he stormed like a stream in spate
A routing winter torrent sweeping away the dikes
The tight piled dikes can't hold it back any longer." Book 5, lines 95-99
Diomedes is compared to an uncontrollably destructive aspect of nature, caused by the gods and unaffected by men. The Trojan archer Pandarus shoots at him, bragging pompously, and hits him but Stheneleus pulls out the arrow. Diomedes prays to Athena for vengeance, and the goddess exposes Aphrodite on the Trojan side of the battle, encouraging Diomedes to spear her. Diomedes is described as a lion jumping into a flock of sheep as he kills more Greeks. He continues, like a lion in a herd of cattle, as the Trojan son of Aphrodite Aeneas enters battle.
Aeneas looks for Pandarus and instructs him to shoot Diomedes again. Pandarus is concerned about shooting Diomedes because he looks like a god in the fray, taking down opponents left and right. He expresses the desire to retreat and Aeneas chastises him offering his own chariot as a vehicle. Pandarus agrees to fight with Aeneas and the two go off in pursuit of Diomedes. Stheneleus sees Aeneas coming and expresses concern similar to Pandarus':
"The other's Aeneas, claims Anchises' blood
The noble Anchises, but his mother's Aphrodite
Come, up you go in the chariot, give ground now!
No charging the front ranks, you might lose your life." Book 5, lines 274-277
Diomedes refuses to retreat and expresses a desire for Aeneas' horses. The two chariot teams clash. Pandarus hurls his spear at Diomedes and misses only to be killed by Diomedes who is guided by Athena. Aeneas jumps down to retrieve the body and Diomedes hurls a stone at his hip. Aphrodite, intervening, throws her robe around Aeneas to hide him and she bears him away. Meanwhile, Stheneleus steals Aeneas' horses. Diomedes pursues Aphrodite and spears her where the wrist bone joins the palm. Aphrodite flees in pain with the aid of Iris who drives Ares' chariot.
"Doesn't son of Tydeus know, down deep,
the man who fights the gods does not live long?" Book 5, lines 465-466
Dione heals her daughter who then goes to Zeus. Zeus explains that fighting is not meant for Aphrodite. Meanwhile, Diomedes charges Aeneas three times and Apollo, who is guarding Aeneas, repulses him three times. Apollo shrieks at Diomedes and tells him to stop.
Ares enters the battle on the Trojan side and taunts the sons of Priam for abandoning Aeneas in the battle. Sarpedon criticizes the Trojan hero Hector for his ineffectiveness in battle. Hector and Sarpedon charge forward and the Trojan masses follow. The Greeks turn white like grain chaff in a dust storm. Aeneas is reinvigorated by Apollo, while the two Aeantes, Diomedes and Odysseus rouse the frightened Greeks. Aeneas kills two Greeks. Menelaus begins pursuing Aeneas backed by Antilochus. Aeneas starts to retreat. Antilochus and Menelaus go on a killing rampage, but Hector watches them and moves towards them. Diomedes recognizes that Hector is aided by Ares and calls out to his fellow Greeks that they should beware of him. Hector kills two Greeks and Ajax Telamon kills a Trojan only to be repulsed by the oncoming swarm.
Ares and Hector continue their rampage killing many Greek soldiers. Athena and Hera dress for battle to aid the Greeks and descend to the field in a chariot. Hera drives the chariot to Diomedes and Athena mocks him in an attempt to lift his spirit. Diomedes returns to the battle, hits Ares and the war god retreats to Mount Olympus. Here, Ares complains to Zeus that he favors Athena and Zeus expresses his hatred for Ares. The god of healing heals Ares.