The Iliad Book 9 – a reaction


A blog response to Book 9 of The Iliad by Homer for Literature class.

 

Book 9 of the Iliad was very interesting, as I was reading it and as we discussed in class. Our teacher told us that it was one of the major turning points in the whole Iliad. And as I read it, it made sense because of the happenings in this Book.

In Book 9, the Akhaians were driven back to their ships by the Trojans and they sat there in despair with Agammemnon crying and declaring defeat. He talks about a lot of things and eventually proposes that they retreat and just sail home to Greece because he had already lost hope. Diomedes stands up and tells Agammemnon that if he wants to leave, he can leave but the rest of them will stay and fight. He adds that if the rest want to leave, they can leave with Agammemnon but he and Sthelenos will stay and fight until they see the fall of Troy. Nestor agrees with Diomedes and tells Agammemnon to reconcile with Akhilleus. Agammemnon promises plenty of gifts, including Briseis and then sends Phoinix, Odysseus, and Ajax to Akhilleus to tell him of Agammemnon’s offer. The three men go to Akhilleus and they find him playing the harp with Patroklos. Odysseus tells him of the offer but Akhilleus immediately refuses. Phoinix follows, telling stories of how he took care of Akhilleus and how he hoped that Akhilleus would protect him, but it was a second failed attempt at getting Akhilleus back in the battle. Ajax is the last to talk to Akhilleus but he did not really talk directly to Akhilleus. He addressed Odysseus but his messages were really meant for Akhilleus. At the end of that conversation, Akhilleus agreed to protect the ships. Not to attack Troy, but just to help the army defend the ships. The three men returned to the rest of the Danaans with the bad news and this got the army back in despair.

In my opinion, when Akhilleus rejected the offer of Agammemnon, he only rejected it out of pride. Because under normal circumstances, no person in the right frame of mind would reject that many gifts for such a simple thing: to go back to war. However, I also do not necessarily think that Akhilleus was wrong in rejecting those gifts even if Briseis was involved. It is true that in Book 1 he just wanted her back in order for him to go to the war but after 18 days, Akhilleus like anyone else would tend to get over whatever they lost but may still be mad at who ever stole from them. This is the case between these two men right now. Agammemnon took Briseis, and Akhilleus was very angry so he decided not to fight the war so that the Akhaians will start losing and Agammemnon will start begging to have him back. That was the revenge that Akhilleus was after. Not the revenge of taking Agammemnon’s material things or one of his girls but the revenge of seeing Agammemnon’s pride hurt or losing his honor and glory. Therefore, the change in Akhilleus’ stand is not entirely contradicting because from the start he also wanted revenge. Probably the most change is the way in which he wants to get revenge.

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