Pandarus in The Iliad: Character Analysis

Instructor: Jacob Belknap

Jake has taught English in middle and high school, has a degree in Literature, and has a master's degree in teaching.

Homer's epic story ''The Iliad'' recounts the final weeks of the Trojan War. One of the heroes of this story is Pandarus. Read further to explore who this hero is, how he helped spark violence, and what happened when he challenged Diomedes.

The Iliad Synopsis

Homer's epic poem The Iliad tells of the mythological story of the Trojan War. This is one of the great pieces of literature from Ancient Greece. Common soldiers, princes, heroes, and gods take part in this struggle between the Achaeans and the Trojans.

Let's focus on the hero Pandarus. We'll begin with his background and character, then move on to his important moments in The Iliad.

Who is Pandarus?

Pandarus is the son of Lycaon. He comes from the Lycia region, more specifically from the banks of the Aesepus river. In The Iliad, the narrator mentions many powerful warriors following Pandarus from his home of Zeleia, which is a nearby area of Mont Ida.

The patron god of Lycia is Apollo, the archer god. This is important because Pandarus is also renowned for his ability with a bow. He and his men fight alongside the Trojans.

A sculpture of Apollo, the god of the bow and the patron god of Lycia.
apollo

Ending the Truce

Before the Trojan War seriously gets underway, there is an important duel between the Achaean King Menelaus and the Trojan Prince Paris. The two fight over the right to Helen of Troy. The Achaeans and the Trojans began with an agreement that the winner of the duel would take Helen, then the Achaeans would leave with no more bloodshed. Menelaus overwhelmingly defeats Paris, but a goddess sweeps the Trojan prince to safety before Menelaus could kill him.

This leaves some time of indecision on the battlefield. One fighter left before the mortal combat could be completed. Intending to ensure the war would continue, Athena, goddess of strategy and war, flies down among the warriors. The goddess disguises herself as a friend of Pandarus, and tricks him into shooting at Menelaus: ''Aim a swift arrow at Menelaus, win glory and renown among the Trojans, and please Prince Paris most of all. He would be first to load you with fine gifts if he saw Menelaus, Atreus' brave son, felled by your shaft and laid on the funeral pyre.''

Athena's goal is to start the war and help the Achaeans, not injure one of their great kings. After she successfully persuades Pandarus to shoot his arrow at Menelaus, she deflects the arrow so the king is only injured. This is cause enough to completely end the tenuous peaceful truce and begin the battles.

The Fall of Pandarus

Later, Pandarus has another important scene, which will ultimately be his last. The great Achaean warrior-king Diomedes of Argos lays waste to the Trojans. No one is able to stand up to his ferocious ability.

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