Book 7 Notes from The Iliad

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The Iliad Book 7

Hector and Paris enter the battlefield and rally the Trojans within the first moments of their entry. Athena tries to counter the Trojan advance but is unsuccessful. Apollo stops her and suggests that they should halt the battle for the day by having Hector challenge a Greek champion to a duel. Athena agrees to the plan and Apollo takes the form of Helenus. In this form he approaches Hector and encourages him to do just as he says. Hector is excited at the idea of such a challenge and he voices the challenge to the armies. The two sides sit down and Hector speaks. He swears that if he wins he will get the armor of the Greek he beats but if he loses his armor shall be given up but the body of the fallen will be returned to his countrymen:

"And someday one will say, one of the men to come
Steering his oar-swept ship across the wine-dark sea
'there's the mound of a man who died in the old days,
one of the brave whom glorious Hector killed.'
So they will say, someday, and my fame will never die."
Book 7, lines 101-105

Hector assuages the idea of mortality with this immortal memory. The Greek line is at first quiet, afraid to take the challenge. Menelaus chastises the army and announces that he will take the challenge, but the Greek chiefs think that this is unwise. Nestor stands and says that he wishes he were younger, so he could do it, reflecting on the strength of his youth. Nine Greeks rise to the challenge and they all draw lots, as ordered by Nestor. Ajax Telamon's lot is chosen.

Topic Tracking: Divine Intervention 11

Ajax rejoices at his fortune and prepares for battle. Both men pray to Zeus for victory and the two armies also mouth their prayers. Ajax taunts Hector. Hector, afraid of the Greek giant, displays unwavering confidence:

"War - I know it well, and the butchery of men
Well I know, shift to the left, shift to the right
My tough tanned shield. That's what the real drill
Defensive fighting means to me. I know it all
How to charge in the rush of plunging horses-
I know how to stand and fight to the finish
Twist and lunge in the War-god's deadly dance."
Book 7, lines 275-281

He hurls his spear and hits Ajax's shield. Ajax hurls and hits his shield. They fight just like lions or wild boars. Hector sustains a neck wound and hurls a rock at Ajax. Ajax throws a rock at him knocking him to the ground. Apollo picks him up. In the face of probable defeat, a Trojan points out that it is almost night and that the two should call a truce until the next day. Hector agrees. The two who fought with hatred, now exchange gifts of friendship as a sign of the truce.

Topic Tracking: Nature Imagery 4

The Greeks return to their camp and feast after offering a sacrifice. Nestor speaks and laments the deaths of so many men. He suggests a truce in the morning so that they might properly care for the dead and construct a ditch around the camp. In Troy, Antenor addresses the collected leaders:

"On with it - give Argive Helen and all her treasures
Back to Atreus' sons to take away at last.
We broke our sworn truce. We fight as outlaws.
True, and what profit for us in the long run?
Nothing - unless we do exactly as I say."
Book 7, lines 402-406

Paris rebuffs Antenor, saying he will never give up Helen but he is willing to give up her treasure and more. Priam stands up and says that at dawn Idaeus should go to the Greeks to request a truce to bury the dead and to propose the treasure as retribution.

At dawn a messenger goes to the Greeks. Diomedes tells him that the treasures will not be touched, but Agamemnon agrees to the burial truce by swearing an oath. Both sides prepare pyres to burn the dead.

On Mount Olympus, Poseidon, the god of earthquakes, complains to Zeus that the Greeks built their trench and walls without making their due sacrifice to him. Zeus belittles his brother god and asks him what he is moaning about promising the destruction of the works at the fall of Troy.

The Greeks receive a gift of wine from the son of Jason and they all drink. Night falls and all the men sleep.

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