The Iliad Books 12&13 – a reaction

A blog response to Books 12&13 of The Iliad by Homer for Literature class


In Book twelve, the battle continues and the Akhaians continue to hold off the Trojans. The trench they dug is serving them well because the Trojan chariots cannot get passed it. Hektor commands his troops to leave the chariots and just go over the trench. However, as they are about to do it, an eagle passes by and drops a serpent. Poulydamas interprets it as a bad sign and advises Hektor against pushing through with the attack. Hektor refuses to retreat. Glaukos and Sarpedon continue to storm the ramparts while Menestheus, Great Aias, and Teukros have a tough time defending. Sarpedon makes the first breach and soon after, Hektor breaks the gates with a boulder. The Trojans go in and the Akhaians panic and retreat to as near the ships as possible.

Book thirteen begins with Zeus leaving the battlefield as he is satisfied with what has happened so far. Poseidon, who is eager to help the Akhaians, sees that Zeus is gone and goes down as Kalkhas to first talk to the Aeantes and to inspire the rest of the Greek army. The Aeantes succeed in pushing Hektor back but when Hektor throws his lance, he misses Teukros and hits Amphimakhos, grandson of Poseidon, instead. As revenge, Poseidon gives Idomeneus power, much like Athena gave Diomedes, and Idomeneus goes on a rage and is unstoppable. Despite killing already so many Trojans, he wants to kill Deiphobos. He finally sees Deiphobos and taunts him. Deiphobos summons Aineias and company to his assistance. Idomeneus is successful in this battle and so is Menelaos, who also killed plenty of Trojans. While all this is happening, Hektor is still pushing on the Akhaian side. However, his troops were either demoralized by the two Aeantes or were already wounded or killed, as he found out when he tried to round up his troops upon Poulydamas’ advice. Great Aias insults Hektor and an eagle appears on the right of Aias, which he took as a good sign for the Akhaians.

I did not find Books 12 and 13 as tough as say, Books 10 and 11. I mean, in terms of reading. I was able to focus better and I liked it because I really got to follow the events that transpired in the two Books. I remember especially the discussion we had in class about Book twelve. It was one of my favorites—it was about the “bird signs” that Poulydamas was trying to interpret and that Hektor did not believe in. For me, Hektor made the right move in pushing through with his attack on the Greeks. Poulydamas was not making any sense in interpreting the bird as bad luck or something to that effect. I mean thinking logically, with the Trojans pushing and the Akhaians moving back, the logical thing to do is to keep attacking until they are pushed back as far as possible. I can compare this to the Pacquiao and Margarito fight. Pacquiao was way ahead and Margarito looked like crap already. Pacquiao was way ahead, why would he stop? He asked the referee to stop the fight but the referee would not so what did Pacquiao do? He continued on punishing Margarito with continuous explosive blows to the head and to the body. But despite Margarito’s face being destroyed, the referee did not say stop, Pacquiao was only doing his job. He was there to fight and obey referee’s orders and that is exactly what he did. Same with the Trojans, they were there to fight, to defend their country by either killing the Akhaians or forcing them to leave that is why moving back because of a stupid bird would under no circumstance ever be acceptable.


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