The Iliad Book 17 – a reaction

A blog response to Books 17 of The Iliad by Homer for Literature class

Book 17 begins with the Trojans and Akhaians fighting over Patroklos’ body in order to get his armor because based on the book, this is how warriors get the honor and glory from the man they just killed, by getting the armor. Euphorbos tries to get the armor but is killed by Menelaos. Hektor sees his ally fall and rushes over to help. Menelaos in turn calls Great Aias, who makes Hektor back down. The problem is, Aias only arrived in time for Hektor not to be able to get the body. Hektor had already taken the armor and he put up a reward for any Trojan who could drag Patroklos’ body away. Zeus knows that Hektor’s life is in peril right now so he gives him temporary strength. Menelaos and Aias gather more Akhaians to help them and they end up making Hektor and the Trojans run for the city gates. Aeneas rallies the fleeing Trojans to go back to the war but they really are unable to get Patroklos’ corpse. Automedon eventually becomes part of the fighting and Hektor tries to kill him in order to get Akhilleus’ chariot. When Hektor tried to spear him, Automedon was able to dodge it and he killed another Trojan in the process. He also stripped the Trojan of his armor in order to sort of get even a little revenge for Patroklos. Athena dresses as Phoinix gives strength to Menelaos and Apollo dresses like a Trojan to help Hektor. Antilochus is sent to Akhilleus, who does not know Patroklos is dead, for help. The Book ends with Zeus making the war in favor of the Trojans, while giving enough time for Menalos and Meriones to carry Patroklos’ body away.

To me this Book was okay, the only problem I had with it is what actually transpired in it. I mean, I get that they are trying to protect Patroklos because he is one of their own but plenty of other Akhaians have died trying to fight the Trojans. It cannot help but make one wonder that they are trying to save Patroklos’ body because they will answer to Akhilleus. However, Akhilleus was the one who allowed Patroklos to battle so if there is anyone besides Patroklos who is to blame because of his death, I would say Akhilleus. Akhilleus allowed Patroklos to go into battle and as a warrior, Akhilleus should have known that Patroklos would have been at high risk of dying, especially because he was wearing Akhilleus’ armor. However, I also thought that Patroklos did this for the sake of Akhaians because he knew that Akhilleus would only go back to the war without him. My main point here is: Patroklos wanted to go to war and he did so with his friend, great runner Akhilleus’ permission. Going to war meant he was going to be at high risk of dying, especially while wearing his friend’s armor. When he died, the Trojans should not have protected him. Not that they do not respect him but for the plain and simple reason that war during their time was kill or be killed, honor and be glorified or give honor and glory. The thing is, Patroklos was killed and therefore it was just right that the man who killed him be allowed his armor.


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