The Iliad Books 20 and 21 – a reaction

A blog response to Books 20 and 21 of The Iliad by Homer for Literature class


In Book 20, Zeus summons the gods to Olympus while the Trojans and Akhaians prepare for battle. He does this because he knows that if Akhilleus goes back to war, the Trojans will be no match and it will be possible for him to even sack Troy all on his own, before its fated time. So with this he takes back his instruction not to intervene with the war, making the gods go straight to earth. However, they soon decide to just watch rather than get involved and see and find out how the mortals handle it on their own.Before Apollo joins the gods in the audience, he encourages Aenias to challenge Akhilleus. When Aenias gets the chance, he does so. However, Poseidon has to save him when Akhilleus is about to finish him off. Akhilleus continues slaying Trojans left and right and as Hektor is about to challenge him, Apollo advises against it. He tells Hektor to wait until Akhilleus comes to him. Initially Hektor obeys but it does not take long until he gives in and fights Akhilleus. Apollo saves him because it is not time for him to die yet.
In Book 21, Akhilleus keeps killing Trojans and chases half of them to the river Xanthos, also known as Skamander to the mortals. On the river banks, he mercilessly slaughters Lykaon, the son of Priam. Akhilleus has no intentions of sparing any Trojan because they killed Patroklos. As he kills Trojans, he throws them in the river until the channels become clogged. The river god gets angry and tells Akhilleus off. He stops throwing corpses in the river but does not stop killing them. The river feels sympathy for the Trojans and calls for help from Apollo. Akhilleus hears this cry for help and attacks the river. However, the river almost wins because he almost kills Akhilleus. He is only saved by Hera, who sends Hephaestus to set the plain on fire and boil the river until the river finally retreated. The gods finally fight after a commotion broke out. Athena defeats Ares and Aphrodite. Poseiden challenges Apollo but he refuses because he does not think mortals are worth fighting over. Artemis tries to make Apollo fight but when Hera hears this, she attacks Artemis. Priam sees his people being slaughtered and opens the gates to the fleeing troops. Akhilleus still pursues them and before getting in the city, Agenor challenges him. While they are fighting, Apollo disguises as Agenor so that the Trojans can run. While Akhilleus was fighting Apollo, he ran and Akhilleus chased him, moving him away from the Trojans.
In these books we can really see how Akhilleus is a demi god; we are shown how his immortal side. First of all, he returns to battle and Zeus himself is scared for the Trojans because he knows that Akhilleus will kill them all and sack Troy with his own bare hands. True enough, we see him slaughtering Trojans left and right. He was only slowed down by the river gods. By that term, they were gods so they are really, in theory, stronger than Akhilleus. Later on in Book 21, had Apollo not disguised as Agenor, Akhilleus would have gone all the way inside Troy and sacked the town right there and then. Again, it had to take intervention from a god before he was slowed down.


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