Who is Diomedes in The Iliad? - Role & 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.

There were many heroes which fought in the epic Trojan War as detailed in Homer's 'The Iliad.' This lesson explores the hero Diomedes accomplishments in battle, stealthy actions, and character analysis.

The Iliad and Diomedes Background

Homer tells of the mythical events of the great Trojan War in his epic poem The Iliad. This Ancient Greek epic tells of the men and gods who fought for the Achaeans against the Trojans in a 10-year struggle. The Greek epics told the stories of one main hero. Although the main hero of The Iliad is the Achaean Achilles, there were several other heroes also fighting in this great war.

In this lesson, we will look at the Achaean hero Diomedes. Diomedes' parents were Tydeus and Deipyle. Diomedes was king of the Greek city Argos. He was also one of the suitors of Helen, who eventually married Menelaus, the king of Sparta. All the suitors made a pact to defend the one who eventually married the beautiful Helen. When she left with Paris, Diomedes was honor bound to join the Achaean armies to bring her back from Troy. He took 80 ships with him when he sailed for Troy. This amount of ships was second only to the Achaean leader King Agamemnon who brought 100 ships.

With this background in mind, let's take a look at Diomedes' actions in the story The Iliad.

The Achaean hero Diomedes of Argos.

Accomplishments in Battle

Diomedes was a fierce warrior. Let's take a look at some of his important accomplishments in the Trojan War.

The great Achilles had an argument with King Agamemnon and refused to fight for a long time. While Achilles was out of the action, Diomedes took a much more active role. He became the scourge of the Trojan soldiers, killing many. He took on heroes including Aeneas, the demigod son of the goddess Aphrodite, and even gods.

In one battle, Diomedes injures Aeneas. Aphrodite sees her son in danger and comes to rescue him. Diomedes attacks and injures the goddess, driving her from the battleground without her son. Later, the goddess Athena joins Diomedes on his chariot and the Achaean hero buries his spear in the war god Ares' side. That makes two gods this great warrior injured and chased off the battleground.

Diomedes' Stealth

In addition to open combat, Diomedes goes on several secretive missions with the creative Achaean King Odysseus. The first of these missions involves killing a king in his sleep. After capturing a spy and learning the whereabouts of a small camp, Odysseus and Diomedes sneak up and kill King Rhesus of Thrace, an ally of Troy. The two then steal the king's team of horses.

Next, the two team up again to steal the Palladium. The Palladium is an important wooden statue for the Trojans. Stealing the Palladium and King Rhesus' horses fulfill prophesies. The prophecies state that Troy will not fall while it controls the horses and the Palladium. In stealing both, Odysseus and Diomedes clear the way for an Achaean victory.

Finally, Diomedes helps Odysseus end the Trojan War. Odysseus thought of a trick: the Achaeans would build a large, hollow horse, fill it with warriors, pretend to leave, then have the Trojans take the fake tribute into their city. At night, the warriors would come out of hiding and open the gates for the rest of the Achaean army. Diomedes was one of the men who hid in ''The Trojan Horse.'' When he came out, he slew many Trojans and helped ensure the Achaean victory.

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