THE ILIAD: SUMMARY OF Missing Books
BOOKS II – V
BOOK II: Trying to make good on his promise to Thetis, Zeus sends Agamemnon a
dream that tries to trick him into thinking he can win the war if he attacks at dawn.
Meanwhile, Zeus double-crosses Agamemnon by sending the messenger Iris to tell
Priam that Agamemnon plans to attack at dawn. But next day, before Agamemnon
assembles the troops, he decides to test their resolve. He reminds them that they
have fought long and hard and suggests that they should all just go home –
whereupon they all run for the ships and start to leave. Only through a concerted
effort by Odysseus, Hera and Athena are they finally persuaded to stay. Agamemnon
unfairly accuses the eager young hero Diomedes of hanging back. Finally, battle
plans are made; the troops assemble, but the element of surprise is lost. Homer then
goes on to list everybody who was there on the beach at Troy: the famous
CATALOGUE OF SHIPS.
BOOK III: The battle between Paris & Menelaus. As the two armies approach
each other, Hector chides Paris into fighting a duel with Menelaus to settle this whole
thing. The Trojans and the Achaians declare a truce so that this can happen. When
Helen finds out they're going to fight over her, she leaves her room and goes to watch
the duel. Seven elders who sit with Priam on the high walls agree she's worth it. The
warriors draw lots to see who gets to throw the first spear; Paris wins, but his toss is
weak. Menelaus is about to finish him off, but just then, Aphrodite rescues him &
transports him to his bedroom, where Helen joins him. Agamemnon asks that his
brother be declared the winner.
BOOK IV: On Olympus, Zeus taunts Hera, pointing out that Aphrodite has won the
day. Hera is furious, so that even Zeus is surprised at how much she hates Troy. She
offers to let Zeus destroy one of her favorite cities if only he'll let Troy fall. He says
ultimately the Achaians will win. They agree to restart the war by making a Trojan
take a pot shot at Menelaus. The battle begins again. The Trojans are driven back.
BOOK V: the young warrior Diomedes makes a hero of himself, killing many
Trojans. Vivid descriptions of grisly death abound. Diomedes tries to kill a Trojan
warrior named Aeneas, who is saved by Aphrodite, his mother. But then Diomedes,
urged on by Athena and Hera, goes after Aphrodite, cutting her hand with a spear.
She has to leave the field of battle, leaving Apollo to save her son. Zeus tells her to
stay out of it. Meanwhile Apollo and Ares help the Trojans. Diomedes, with Athena's
help, then wounds Ares.
BOOK VI: As the battle continues, the Trojans are in trouble. One of Hector's
brothers suggests he return to the city to tell the women to pray. He takes this advice.
This is where your text picks up.
BOOKS VII AND VIII
BOOK VII: Once Hector & Paris return, fighting resumes. They each kill several
Achaian warriors, and the Trojan army advances. But Athena (who supports the
Achaians) and Apollo (who supports the Trojans) both worry about how weary
everyone is, so they decide that two of the greatest warriors from either side should
fight a duel. Hector, who learns about this idea from a seer, likes the idea and
challenges the Achaians to pick their best warrior to face him. The Achaians hesitate;
finally then Menelaus volunteers but Agamemnon stops him. Then Nestor scolds
everyone, and finally nine warriors agree to volunteer. They draw lots. The great
Ajax wins and all the Achaians pray to Zeus on his behalf. Once armed, he even
frightens Hector a little. They fight till dark then declare a draw and exchange gifts.
That night, both sides decide they need a truce to gather & cremate their dead. The
Trojans argue about Helen, then ask Paris to give her back. He refuses, but then he
offers to compensate Menelaus with gifts. Next day the Trojans propose both the
truce and Paris' offer. The Achaians accept the former but reject the latter. They go
on, not just to cremate their dead, but to build a wall to protect their ships, and to dig
a deep trench in front of it. Poseidon objects, saying that their wall will be more
famous than Troy's wall, which HE built. But Zeus tells him that after the Achaians
win, he can knock down their wall.
BOOK VIII: Next day, Zeus orders the other gods to stay out of the fighting so he
can fulfill his promise to Thetis. Hera tries to get Poseidon to help her, but he doesn't
want to cross Zeus. The Trojans chase the Argives all the way back to their wall. Hera
and Athena try to sneak out of Olympus to help, but Zeus sees them and sends them
back. Then he gloats, telling them that the Trojans will advance even farther the next
day. That night, they camp on the plain, lighting a thousand campfires. They can
hardly wait till dawn. Meanwhile, the Achaians decide to go to Achilles. This is
where your text picks up the action.
BOOKS IX THROUGH XVIII:
Book X: Diomedes picks Odysseus to go on a night mission with him to spy on the
Trojans. They catch a would-be Trojan spy named Dólon, trick him into revealing all
the Trojans plans, then, while he's still talking, thinking Odysseus has promised him
they won't kill him, Diomedes cuts his head off. They go kill a bunch of Trojan allies,
steal their horses, take their weapons, and return to the ships.
Book XI: At dawn, the third battle of the Iliad begins. Agamemnon finally makes a
break in the Trojan line and kills many Trojans, achieving his aristeia. The Trojans
are driven back to the city. Then Agamemnon is wounded, and the Trojans gain
momentum until Odysseus and Diomedes stop their advance again. Paris wounds
Diomedes, and Odysseus gets himself surrounded until he is rescued by Menelaus
and Ajax. Nestor rescues the Achaian physician Machaon. Achilles, watching the
battle, sends Patroklos out to make sure it is the doctor. Nestor asks Patroklos to try
to get Achilles to fight again, or at least to let Patroklos fight.
Book XII: The Trojans advance again, this time attacking the Achaian trench and
wall. They get past the trench but not the wall. Great Ajax kills a chief Trojan
attacker with a huge rock, but the Trojans break off a piece of the wall. They finally
get in, and the Achaians flee to their ships.
Book XIII: Zeus, who has been helping the Trojans all along, decides to take a
break. But Poseidon secretly continues to help the Achaians. Disguised as the seer
Calchas, he blames Agamemnon for angering Achilles, and appeals to the Argive
sense of pride, but he loses a grandson in the fighting. Once Zeus returns, he and
Poseidon keep the battle going strong on both sides.
Book XIII: Nestor, still tending the wounded doctor, sees that the wall has been
broken. He meets Diomedes, Odysseus, and Agamemnon as they come up the beach,
all wounded, and tells them what has happened. He suggests they all take counsel,
since they can't fight. Agamemnon says all is lost, they should cut and run. Odysseus
reprimands him. Diomedes suggests they stay and try to inspire the troops, even if
they can't fight. They all agree. Meanwhile, Hera plans to trick Zeus so she can sneak
onto the battlefield and help the Achaians. She gets all fixed up, with Aphrodite's
help, and seduces him, which puts him to sleep. Poseidon, now that the coast is clear,
helps the Argives fight Hector.
Book XV: Zeus wakes up to find the Trojans in rout and Hector half conscious on
the battlefield. He scolds Hera. She says Poseidon was to blame. Zeus orders her
back to Olympus, then tells Poseidon to stay out of it. The war god Aries, learning
that one of his sons has been killed, threatens to get back into the battle, but Athena
stops him. Poseidon indignantly withdraws; Apollo helps Hector. The battle rages
on, back and forth. Finally Hector sets fire to some Achaian ships.
Book XVI: Patroklos begs Achilles to let him borrow Achilles’ armor. Achilles sends
him off but warns him only to beat the Trojans back from the Achaian wall. He must
not to chase the Trojans back to the city. However, in the heat of battle, Patroklos
charges past the wall and fights the Trojans all the way back to the walls of Troy.
Finally, he is killed by Hector with the help of Apollo.
Book XVII: Menelaus tries to protect Patroklos' body and makes a hero of himself,
but the battle over the body rages on all day. Your textbook takes up the story when
Achilles learns of Patroklos’ death.