Study Guide

The Iliad Book 14

By Homer

Book 14

  • After he's done helping the injured healer Machaon, Nestor steps out of the tent to see how the battle's going. He doesn't like what he sees: the Achaians are getting their butts whipped.
  • Nestor is debating whether he should go join the battle himself, or whether he should go report to Agamemnon. He decides on the latter course of action.
  • He finds Agamemnon sitting with Diomedes and Odysseus away from the fighting. All three are injured.
  • Nestor tells Agamemnon the bad news.
  • Agamemnon thinks they're beat. He suggests they should just start moving the ships down into the water.
  • Odysseus says, "No way. As soon as the men see that we're starting to sail off, they won't keep fighting. There will be total disorder and the Trojans will kill us all."
  • Agamemnon says, "Fine. So what do you other brainiacs think we should do?"
  • Eventually, Diomedes speaks up. He says that the three of them should go back to the battle.
  • Even if they don't join in the fighting, they can still shout out encouragement to the men.
  • Everyone thinks this is a good idea, so they head out.
  • On their way, they encounter the god Poseidon, in disguise. He tells Agamemnon that the gods aren't entirely against them – the day will come when the Trojans will turn tail and run.
  • Then Poseidon races off with a shout as loud as nine or ten thousand men, instilling great courage in the hearts of the Achaians.
  • Up on Mount Olympos, Hera sees what Poseidon is doing and is overjoyed. All the same, she is afraid of what might happen if Zeus catches wind of it. She decides to distract him—with the power of a woman's touch.
  • First she dolls herself up all nicely, then she calls Aphrodite, the goddess of love, to put on some finishing touches. Specifically, she wants to borrow loveliness and desirability. (You can think of this as asking to borrow Aphrodite's prized bottle of Chanel Number 5.)
  • The would-be cover girl's cover story is as follows: she wants to go start some chemistry between Okeanos, god of the ocean, and the sea-goddess Tethys, whose relationship is on the rocks.
  • Aphrodite is thrilled with this idea, and forks over the goods.
  • Now Hera heads off to find Zeus. On the way, however, she pays a visit to Sleep, the brother of Death.
  • Hera asks him to knock Zeus out as soon as she's had a chance to use her wiles on him.
  • Sleep hesitates, recalling a previous occasion when he helped Hera put Zeus under—only to have Zeus give him a royal thumping when he woke up.
  • Hera says, "Don't worry about it. And anyhow, if you help me, I'll let you have one of the younger Graces as your wife—Pasithea, the one you've had a crush on for so long." (The Graces were goddesses of, well, gracefulness, beauty, etc.)
  • Sleep says, "Oooh, yes." And off they go.
  • When they reach Mount Ida, where Zeus is, Sleep takes the form of a bird, and Hera heads up to find the god.
  • As soon as Zeus sees her, he is instantly overpowered with lust.
  • He asks her where she's going.
  • Hera tells him the same story she told Aphrodite.
  • Zeus says, "That can wait. Right now: you, me, right here."
  • Hera says, "Right here? Won't somebody see us?"
  • Zeus says, "Not to worry. I'll wrap the mountain in a cloud of mist." Which he does.
  • Once they're done, Sleep knocks Zeus unconscious. Then he speeds down to find Poseidon on the beach of Troy.
  • Sleep tells Poseidon to hurry up and kick some Trojan butt while Zeus is still asleep.
  • Now Poseidon leads the Achaians on the attack.
  • Hektor throws a spear at Aias, but it is deflected where his shield- and sword-straps overlap.
  • In response, Aias throws a huge rock at Hektor, hitting him in the chest.
  • Some guys grab Hektor and pull him out of harm's way. They put him on a chariot and take him back towards Troy, stopping by the River Xanthos. There they splash some water on him. He throws up and blacks out.
  • Back on the battlefield, the Achaians, encouraged by the departure of Hektor, press on with new energy.
  • Various soldiers on both sides are killed in gruesome fashion.

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