Diomedes Quotations from The Iliad

Instructor: Summer Stewart

Summer has taught creative writing and sciences at the college level. She holds an MFA in Creative writing and a B.A.S. in English and Nutrition

Diomedes is a powerful Greek warrior in Homer's The Iliad who fights for Agamemnon. He is both wise and brave. In this lesson, we will get to know Diomedes through several quotes from Homer's epic poem.

Background

Venus, Wounded by Diomedes, is Saved by Iris by Joseph-Marie Vien
diomedes

Diomedes brought the third largest fleet, 'eighty ships' in fact, to the shores of Troy in Homer's The Iliad. As an Achaean warrior, Diomedes is one of the strongest and wisest in the epic poem that follows the last years of the Trojan War. Although Diomedes doesn't get much credit for his efforts in the war, Homer describes him with great detail and as a man worth talking about. This lesson will teach you all about Diomedes by using a series of quotes from The Iliad.

Diomedes As a Force to be Reckoned With

Homer describes Diomedes in a fierce way. For example, in Book Five, Diomedes is in the heat of battle and Homer writes,

'Then Pallas Athena granted Tydeus' son Diomedes

strength and daring--so the fighter would shine forth

and tower over the Argives and win himself great glory.

She set the man ablaze, his shield and helmet flaming

with tireless fire like the star that flames at harvest,

bathed in the Ocean, rising up to outshine all other stars.'

Here Athena is giving Diomedes the courage to go into battle, but what's more amazing about this selection is how Diomedes is described as fire: he's ferocious, brave, and daring. Moreover, Diomedes is depicted brighter than any other warrior, which not only points out that he's stronger than many other Achaeans, but that he's also an important figure in the army.

Diomedes's ability to fight is further seen when he kills Idaeus. Diomedes goes against Phegeus even though he's in a chariot. Homer writes, 'Diomedes then threw, and his spear sped not in vain, for it hit Phegeus on the breast near the nipple, and he fell from his chariot…' Diomedes is an experienced fighter, so much so that he can fight against soldiers have the advantage over him.

The Relationship of Diomedes and Achilles

Achilles is stubborn and selfish and raging mad. When Agamemnon takes Briseis away from Achilles, Achilles goes above and beyond to get back at Agamemnon by refusing to fight for him. Agamemnon gets mad at Achilles for his behavior because he just doesn't get Achilles's need to protect his honor.

Diomedes steps in and says, '…Agamemnon, /I wish you had not supplicated the blameless son of Peleus/ with innumerable gifts offered. He is a proud man without this, / and now you have driven him far deeper into his pride. Rather/ we shall pay him no more attention, whether he comes in with us/ or stays away. He will fight again, whenever the time comes/ that the heart in his body urges him to, and the god drives him.'

A painting showing Achilles losing Briseis to Agamemnon
Achilles losing Briseis

Diomedes seems to understand that Agamemnon has violated Achilles' honor and his pride, but he also knows that Achilles won't stay away long from the battle. His wisdom shows that he understands the importance of respecting each other and of how warriors in this age value their reputations.

Diomedes Criticizes Agamemnon

Diomedes has no problem telling Agamemnon how his personality negatively impacts the men and the outcome of the war. Several times throughout the story, Agamemnon considers running for the ships and sailing home; at one point, Diomedes even tells Agamemnon that he's a coward. He says, 'The son of devious-devising Kronos has given you/ gifts in two ways: with the sceptre he gave you honour beyond all, / but he did not give you a heart, and of all power this is the greatest.'

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