Book 6 Notes from The Iliad

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The Iliad Book 6

The battle continues with Ajax Telamon killing Trojans along side the rampaging Diomedes. Polypoetes, and Antilochus join in the fray while Menelaus attacks the Trojan Adrestus. Adrestus begs to be given mercy and Menelaus considers, but Agamemnon chides him for being weak. Agamemnon stabs Adrestus as Nestor speaks to raise the morale of the Greek troops.

The Greek army begins to beat the Trojans back. The Trojan seer Helenus, tells Aeneas to rally the Trojan troops. He also tells Hector to return to the city and sacrifice to the gods requesting that Diomedes' be held back. Helenus explains that Diomedes is now the strongest Greek because Achilles is out of the battle. Both men carry out their instructions.

Glaucus and Diomedes meet in No man's land. Diomedes asks Glaucus about his lineage because he is afraid to fight another divinity, citing the story of Lycurgus and his attack on the immortals with its resulting blindness. Glaucus tells the story of his father Sisyphus and Diomedes realizes that the two men are Guest-friends. They decide not to fight each other and exchange armor as a token of this pledge. Zeus takes Glaucus' wits away because he allows him to trade his gold armor for Diomedes' bronze.

Hector arrives in Troy and meets his mother Hecuba. He tells his mother to pray to Athena for the defeat of Diomedes. He does not perform the sacrifice himself because he is covered with the filth of battle. Hecuba offers a dress to Athena and the sacrifice of twelve heifers, but the goddess meets this with deaf ears.

Hector goes to the halls of Paris to find him polishing his armor rather than fighting. He berates his brother and Paris admits that he is a coward and pledges to proceed to battle immediately. Helen asks Hector to sit and speak with her but Hector says that he must go to see his wife and son.

He finds his wife in the watch tower overlooking the battle. Andromache begs Hector to think of his son, Astayanax and not risk his life in the midst of the battle, but to guide the fight from the walls instead. She implores him to think of her too, so that she and her son would never be bereft of a husband and father. Hector is touched by this plea, but does not allow himself to be moved:

"All this weighs on my mind too, dear woman.
But I would die of shame to face the men of Troy
And the Trojan women trailing their long robes
If I would shrink from battle now, a coward."
Book 6, lines 523-525

Hector's fear of shame overpowers his fear of death and concern for his family. Also, in the following lines, Hector reveals to us that he thinks Troy will fall and Priam will die, predicting the dark fate of his wife and child sold as slaves in a far - off land. He prays for the future of his son and tries to cheer up his wife, but she remains sad. After leaving his family and exhibiting such empathetic behavior, Hector meets up with Paris, who has prepared for battle and the two leave through the Scaean gates. Paris attempts to downplay his own fighting prowess and Hector chastises him lightly, criticizing him only for avoiding battle, not for lack of ability.

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