The Iliad Book 6 Summary

Instructor: Erica Schimmel

Erica has taught college English writing and literature courses and has a master's degree in children's literature.

Now that the gods have left the battlefield, the bloodshed continues between the Trojans and the Achaeans. Hector returns to the city for a brief time in Book 6 of Homer's ''The Iliad''.

Battle Between Men

After intervening for a time, the gods have retreated from the battlefield for now. This leaves the Trojans and Achaeans to their fighting in Book 6 of Homer's The Iliad. Like a game of tug-of-war, the two sides exchange kills and advantage. Back and forth they go, showing no mercy.

At one point, Menelaus takes Adrestus alive after the man's horses break away from his cart. Adrestus begs Menelaus to spare his life - if he takes him as hostage, he will receive a large ransom. Menelaus is tempted to do so. Agamemnon overhears, however, and reminds Menelaus that this is no time for ''giving quarter.'' This is war. His words persuade Menelaus, and he kills Adrestus.

The Achaeans gain the upper hand. The Trojans would fall back, but Helenus, Priam's son and a seer, takes his brothers Hector and Aeneas aside. The two men are the ''mainstays of the Trojans and Lycians,'' for they are the strong and admired soldiers. He advises them to rally their troops to stand fast. While Aeneas gives the men a pep talk, Helenus says Hector should return to the city. He should find their mother and ask her to offer a sacrifice to Minerva. After shouting some encouragement to his men, Hector departs.

Family Friend

After Hector leaves, Diomed meets Glaucus in an open space. They are prepared to ''fight in single combat,'' but first Diomed wants to know who Glaucus is. He has never seen the other man in battle before. If Glaucus is a god, Diomed will not fight him. Men who fight gods do not last long.

Though Glaucus questions why Diomed asks for his history, he recites his lineage for the other man. It turns out their families are old friends. With this new knowledge, Diomed asks that they part as friends. Though the battlefield seems an unlikely place to forge a friendship, the men shake hands and exchange armor as a sign of their new friendship.

Organizing a Sacrifice

Meanwhile, Hector arrives at the city gates and goes immediately to find his mother, Hecuba, in Priam's palace. He declines her offer of wine since he needs his strength and has business to attend to. Part of that business requires her help. He asks her to gather the matrons of the town and go to the temple of Minerva. She should take her most prized robe and offer it to Minerva, along with a promise to sacrifice ''twelve yearling heifers'' if Minerva will take pity on them and keep Diomed from their town.

Hecuba calls for her waiting women to collect the women of the town while she prepares. Together, they meet at the temple of Minerva. They join Theano, the priestess, in praying to Minerva to protect their city from Diomed. No matter how fervently they pray, however, Minerva chooses not to grant their prayer.

In the meantime, Hector visits his brother Paris at his home. He finds Paris shining his armor, and reprimands him for not being part of the combat. After all, isn't Paris the reason they are fighting? His brother admits the reprimand is well deserved, and promises to join. Hector can wait for him to put on his armor, or he can catch up with him.

Frustrated, Hector politely turns down Helen's offer of a seat. Though Helen agrees with Hector about Paris being undependable, he does not have the time to spare. He is in a hurry to help the Trojans, and he wants to visit his wife and child before he must return to the battlefield. Who knows whether he will ever get another chance to see them?

The Warrior and The Father

Upon leaving his brother's home, Hector hurries to find his wife, Andromache, and their baby boy, Astyanax. They are not home. His housekeeper tells him he can find them on the wall of the town, where Andromache went when she heard the Trojans were gaining an advantage in the battle.

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