In order to make sure the Trojans get a good thumping, Athene gives extra power and courage to Diomedes.
In the heat of the battle, Diomedes is approached by two Trojans, Phegeus and Idaios. We are told that these guys are the sons of some guy called Dares, who is a priest of the god Hephaistos (we met this god back in Book 1).
Phegeus and Idaios throw their spears at Diomedes but both miss.
When Diomedes throws his spear, however, he kills Phegeus. He would kill Idaios too, except that the god Hephaistos swoops down from the sky and carries the Trojan to safety. Hephaistos does this so the boys' father will not be completely heartbroken at losing two sons.
Elsewhere on the battlefield, Athene convinces Ares to back off for a while and let the mortals duke it out for themselves. Ares – who's apparently a pushover – agrees.
Various gruesome depictions of warfare follow. When a character is killed, we usually get a little backstory on where they come from, what they do in peacetime, etc.
Meanwhile, Diomedes is seriously on the warpath.
Pandaros, the Trojan archer, decides to take Diomedes out. He lets fly an arrow and hits him in the right shoulder.
Proud of his shot, Pandaros urges the Trojans on.
Diomedes calls Sthenelaos to come pull out the arrow. Sthenelaos is happy to oblige.
After the arrow has been removed, Diomedes prays to Athene to be able to spear the guy who shot him.
Athene comes to him, tells him she has instilled his father's strength in him. As an added bonus, she also takes away the mist from his eyes, so that he can tell who's a mortal and who's a god. She tells him that if any god challenges him, he should maintain eye contact and back away slowly. Any god, that is, except for Aphrodite. Athene tells Diomedes that if he sees the goddess of love, he should go on the attack.
Diomedes roars back into action, and kills various opponents.
Meanwhile, the Trojan warrior Aineias (you can read more about his subsequent adventures in Virgil's Aeneid – or on Shmoop's coverage of the Aeneid.) is looking for Pandaros.
When he finds him, Aineias says, "What the heck? Why don't you take another shot at Diomedes? He's giving us a serious beat down!"
Archers can be a prickly bunch, however, and now Pandaros gets all defensive. He says that some god must be helping Diomedes. Then he starts complaining about the bad luck he's been having – it's not even lunchtime, he's already shot Menelaos and Diomedes, and they're both still alive.
Aineias suggest they team up in one chariot. That way, they can speed in for an attack against Diomedes, and then easily speed back out again if the going gets rough.
Pandaros says, "You've got yourself a deal. You drive, I'll spear."
When Aineias and Pandaros are getting in range of Diomedes, Sthenelaos catches sight of them and warns the Achaian warrior.
Diomedes says, "No worries. You go for the horses, I'll take out one of these jokers."
Just at that moment, Pandaros starts taunting Diomedes, and throws his spear at him. Once again, however, Pandaros is close but no cigar. The spear goes through Diomedes's shield but fails to pierce his breastplate.
When Diomedes throws his own spear, he hits Pandaros in the face, killing him.
To protect his fallen comrade, Aineias leaps down from his chariot. Seeing his chance, Diomedes picks up a huge rock and throws it at Aineias. It crushes his hip and he sinks to the ground.
Now Diomedes is going in for the kill. Luckily for Aineias, however, his mommy is there to protect him. This is lucky because his mom just happens to be the goddess Aphrodite. She wraps him in her cloak to protect him from enemy weapons, and starts to carry him away.
While Sthenelaos steals the fallen Trojans' horses, Diomedes uses his Athene-brand super-vision and attacks Aphrodite, stabbing her in the wrist.
Because Aphrodite is incapacitated, Apollo swoops down, wraps Aineias in a mist of invisibility, and continues carrying him to safety.
In the meantime, Diomedes mocks Aphrodite for her generally meddlesome nature.
Without even making a comeback, Aphrodite flees the scene. Iris, the messenger of the gods, comes down to lead her to safety on Mount Olympos.
Once she gets there, Aphrodite runs into her mother, Dione, and complains about her rough treatment at the hands of Diomedes. She is astonished that the Achaians dare to make war on the gods!
Dione, who's been around the block a few times, doesn't think it's such a big deal. She reminds Aphrodite of past occasions in which gods have suffered physical violence at the hands of mortals.
Then, Dione wipes the ichor (this is what gods have instead of blood) from Aphrodite's wrist and heals her wound.
Now that the injury is healed, it's time for some insult. Hera and Athene start making fun of Aphrodite in front of Zeus.
Zeus tells Aphrodite she was asking for it, and should stay away from fighting in the future.
Back on the battlefield, Diomedes is still going after Aineias, who is still being carried off by the god Apollo.
Apollo successfully defends Aineias from Diomedes's attacks, and issues the Achaian warrior a stern warning not to mess with the gods.
Diomedes backs off and Apollo successfully ferries Aineias out of the battle, and deposits him in his own temple on a sacred mountain. There Apollo's mother and sister, the goddesses Leto and Artemis, heal Aineias's wounds.
So that nobody suspects anything, Apollo creates a ghostly replica of Aineias which he sends down to keep fighting. The Trojans rally around this replica.
Now Apollo calls on Ares, god of war, to go after Diomedes. Apollo enters the fray and incites the Trojans to keep on slugging.
At this point, Sarpedon, the commander of the Lykians, a tribe allied with the Trojans, starts taunting Hektor because he isn't in the thick of the action. Sarpedon says, "We Lykians are busting our butts for you Trojans; how come you aren't putting in some effort for yourselves?"
Hektor feels like he just got burned. He jumps out of his chariot and starts whipping his men into order, and leads them on a counterattack.
Now Apollo sends the real Aineias – who by this point is fully recovered – back into the battle.
Everyone is too busy to ask him what happened.
The battle rages on. Losses are suffered on both sides.
Suddenly, Menelaos rejoins the battle.
Meanwhile, Ares is sticking close by Hektor, protecting him from harm and helping him kick some tail.
Because Diomedes can see the god helping Hektor, he warns the other Achaians to steer clear of the Trojan hero.
In the midst of the fray, there is an encounter between two warriors who are both descended from Zeus. Tlepolemos, who is fighting for the Achaians, is the son of Herakles (better known by his Roman name, Hercules), and is therefore Zeus's grandson. Sarpedon, whom we've already met, is Zeus's son.
These estranged relatives start by hurling insults at each other, and then graduate to hurling spears, both at the same time.
Sarpedon hits Tlepolemos in the neck, killing him. Tlepolemos's spear hits Sarpedon in the thigh.
While Sarpedon is helped off the scene by his entourage, the Achaians drag Tlepolemos's body back among their ranks.
Now, Odysseus is wondering whether he should go after Sarpedon, or whether he should just attack the Lykians who serve under him. Because it isn't fated for Odysseus to kill Sarpedon, the goddess Athene makes him decide to give the Lykians a licking.
Odysseus doesn't make much progress, however, because Hektor makes a counterattack against him.
In the meantime, Sarpedon is carried off to safer ground, where his wound is dressed. His spirit briefly leaves his body, but then returns. He is alive.
Understandably, the Achaians are backing away from the tag-team of Hektor and Ares, who are currently killing opponents left and right.
Up on Olympos, Hera and Athene don't like the looks of this. They decide to put a stop to Ares's rampage themselves.
In describing the goddesses' preparations, Homer not only includes a segment of Pimp My Chariot, but also works in an Extreme Makeover: Hoplite Warrior Edition.
As the goddesses are riding away from Olympos, Hera asks for and receives Zeus's permission to whoop Ares's behind.
Once they arrive on the ground, Hera starts insulting the Achaians to egg them on. Athene goes to find Diomedes, who is nursing his wound from Pandaros's arrow.
Athene starts by insulting him, calling him a wuss and half the man his father was.
Diomedes says, "I'm only hanging back because of what you said. You said don't fight any gods except for Aphrodite. I stabbed her alright, but now Hektor has Ares backing him up. What am I supposed to do?"
Now Athene reveals her true colors: "Forget Ares," she says, "we can take him."
Athene knocks Sthenelaos out of his chariot and mounts beside Diomedes. The two of them drive on towards Ares; Athene helps Diomedes spear the god in the gut.
After letting out a shriek as loud as an entire army, Ares runs crying up to Olympos. There, he starts whining to Zeus about what Diomedes did to him. He also complains about how Athene helped out Diomedes.
Zeus scolds him, basically saying, "What gives? You can dish it out but you can't take it."
The king of the gods says he would have banished Ares long ago – he just has a soft spot for his son. He calls Apollo to come heal Ares's wounds.
Then Hebe, the goddess of youth, washes Ares and decks him out with some stylish new duds. Ares sits down and relaxes.