The Iliad Book 14 Summary

Instructor: Bryan Cowing

Bryan is a freelance writer who specializes in literature. He has worked as an English instructor, editor and writer for the past 10 years.

Book 14 of 'The Iliad' is one of the more interesting sections of Homer's epic tale. Because there is so much action, it might be hard to keep track of it all. In this lesson, we will take a look at some of the important events from Book 14.

Nestor Checks on the Battle

Book 14 of The Iliad starts with the Achaean Nestor finishing up his care for the injured Machaon. Nestor grabs his son's shield and heads out to the battle. When he gets there, he sees that the Achaeans are losing. Nestor sees the ''Achaeans in retreat,'' and that the ''wall was breeched.'' He decides to go find Agamemnon and tell him what is happening with the battle.

Nestor Speaks to Agamemnon, Diomedes and Odysseus

Nestor tells Agamemnon ''What's happened so far is over, done with--not even high-thundering Zeus himself could make that something else--our wall is down. We put our faith in it as a firm defence for ships and for ourselves.'' Odysseus, who is also there, decides that they should not give up on the battle and tells Agamemnon. ''Son of Atreus, how can such words as these come from your mouth? / I wish you ruled some other army, some useless men, and were not our leader.''

These are pretty strong words, and Odysseus goes on to demand that they go into the battle. Agamemnon responds that Odysseus's words 'stung' him and says that he will go along with the plan. Since they are injured, Diomedes suggest that they go back and encourage the troops by shouting and encouraging them, rather than fighting physically. Everyone agrees.

Hera Seduces Zeus

When the men head out, the God Poseidon tells Agamemnon ''Troy's kings and leaders may yet make dust while scurrying over this wide plain, / while you watch them running to their city, / back from these huts.'' In other words, despite the fact that the battle is not going well, they may still win.

When Hera sees this, she thinks that it might upset Zeus, so she decides to try to distract him by seducing him. She asks Aphrodite for help seducing Zeus, and also appeals to the God, Sleep, and asks him to put Zeus in a deep sleep after she seduces him. He agrees. She prances off to seduce Zeus. Hera is successful with her scheme and leaves Zeus knocked out with the help of Sleep.

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