Study Guide

The Iliad Book 13

By Homer

Book 13

  • Thinking he's got the battle ball rolling, Zeus leaves the scene. He doesn't think any other god is going to interfere now.
  • Fat chance! At it turns out, Poseidon thinks it's high time he got a piece of the action. After getting his chariot in order, he rides to the vicinity of Troy. He parks his horses and chariot in a conveniently located underwater cave. (These aren't your usual horses.)
  • Then he walks up onto the beach, where he takes on the form of the Achaian seer Kalchas. In this shape, he encourages both Aiases to defend a certain position where the battle line is weakest.
  • Then he fills them with courage. Little Aias realizes that a god has contacted them. Aias agrees. They rush into battle.
  • Next, Poseidon incites other Achaian warriors, calling them cowards for hanging back. He also tells them to stop bellyaching because Agamemnon turned Achilleus against them.
  • A spirited Achaian resistance arises around the two Aiases.
  • Hektor leads the charge against them.
  • Various warriors get killed.
  • Poseidon, walking among the soldiers, takes the form of the Achaian warrior Thoas. Disguised as Thoas, he gets in a conversation with Idomeneus about how they've really got to keep fighting.
  • Idomemeus says, "I know. We're all trying our hardest. Some god must be helping the Trojans."
  • As Idomeneus then rushes back to battle, he encounters Meriones, another Achaian warrior.
  • When Idomeneus asks him what he's doing there, Meriones explains that he broke his spear and was heading to his tent to get another. He asks if he can borrow one from Idomeneus.
  • Idomeneus says, "That's cool. I've got tons of spears back in my tent."
  • Meriones says, "Hey! I've got tons of spears in my tent, too. I'm not a coward or something!"
  • Idomeneus says, "I know you aren't. Go grab one."
  • Meriones runs off, grabs a spear, and then catches up with Idomeneus, who is still heading back to the fight. Now they can go together.
  • They head where the fighting is thickest.
  • In the midst of the battle, Poseidon is fighting hard for the Achaians. He retains a mortal form so that Zeus won't see him meddling.
  • Idomeneus kills various opponents—including Asios, the guy who charged his chariot at the Achaian gates in Book 12.
  • This makes the Trojan Deïphobos furious. He throws a spear at Idomeneus, misses, and kills an Achaian guy called Hypselon.
  • In response, Idomeneus kills a Trojan soldier named Alkathoös.
  • Now Idomeneus starts taunting Deïphobos, saying, "Why don't you fight me yourself?"
  • Deïphobos steps up to the challenge—but first calls on Aineias to come help him out.
  • Seeing Aineias on the way, Idomeneus calls his buddies over for backup.
  • In response, Aineias calls his buddies over for backup.
  • A huge fight breaks out between these guys over the dead body of Askalaphos—the Achaians wanting to strip off its armor, the Trojans wanting to take it home for proper burial.
  • Various men are killed.
  • Finally, Meriones stabs Deïphobos in the hand. Luckily for Deïphobos, his brother Polites drags him out of the fighting, sticks him on his chariot, and sends him back to Troy.
  • More men get killed in gruesome fashion.
  • The focus turns on Menelaos after the Trojan Helenos kills the Achaian Deipyros.
  • Menelaos goes in for revenge, throwing a spear at Helenos at the same time as Helenos throws an arrow at him.
  • Helenos's arrow deflects off Menelaos's chest, but Menelaos's spear destroys Helenos's hand.
  • Helenos flees the scene.
  • Menelaos kills some more guys.
  • Elsewhere on the battlefield, Hektor presses on his assault.
  • Even so, the Trojans might have been beaten back if it weren't for the strategic thinking of Poulydamas.
  • Poulydamas urges Hektor to concentrate their forces at a certain safe location, so that they can decide their next move. Hektor agrees.
  • The only problem is, when he goes to gather his chieftains, he discovers that most of them are either dead—like Asios and Adamas—or licking their wounds back in Troy—like Deïphobos and Helenos.
  • Hektor does find Paris, however, and immediately starts insulting him, calling him a wuss.
  • Paris says, "Hey! That's no fair. I'm trying my best!"
  • Now Hektor and Paris run into the thick of the fight.
  • Aias throws out an insult against Hektor.
  • When he's done, an eagle flies by on the right—a good omen—and the Achaians cheer.
  • Hektor answers with a challenge of his own.
  • Both sides rush into battle.

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