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Book XV: The Message of Hera

Summary

Zeus awakes to find that Poseidon is helping the Greeks and that Hector is wounded. He quickly realizes that he has lost control of the battle below and that Hera is partly to blame. He severely chastises his wife for her treachery and reminds her of a previous punishment for her disobedience, when she was hung up with anvils around her feet. When Hera swears to Zeus that she did not motivate Poseidon's entrance into the battle, the anger of Zeus abates.

Zeus then reveals to Hera that he has been helping the Trojans because of a promise he made to Achilles. Since the Greek hero felt he was humiliated by Agamemnon, Zeus promised to fight against the Greeks, helping the Trojans to push them back to their ships. Now he reveals his will for the Greeks and Trojans. Achilles will allow Patroclos to go into battle, where he will be slain by Hector. Achilles, angered by the death of his friend, will rejoin the battle and slay Hector. The Greeks, spurred on by Achilles' presence, will oust the Trojans from their ships and march across the plain to capture Troy.

Hera returns to Olympus, where she praises Zeus' strength, stating he is much stronger than the rest of them put together. She then tells the other gods of Zeus' plan for the Greeks and their responsibility of backing it. Hearing of the plan, Ares jumps up to descend to the battlefield and join the fight. He is restrained by Athena, who reminds him that if one of the gods sins, they are all punished.

Zeus sends Iris to Poseidon with a message telling him to cease his efforts on behalf of the Greeks and return to his home in the sea. Although he argues at first, Iris finally persuades Poseidon that in the interests of divine peace, he should withdraw.


Zeus next summons Apollo, who is sent to heal the wounded Hector. After recovering, the Trojan leader returns to the battlefield. Inspired by Hector's presence and aided by the strength of Apollo and Zeus, the Trojans again breach the Greek wall, push the Greeks back to their ships, and set fire to some of the vessels. It seems that the Trojans have victory in their hands, but Zeus has a different plan.

At the close of the book, Homer reveals that Patroclos has left Eurypylos and is returning to the tent of Achilles.

Notes

As Zeus wakes from sleep, he is horrified to learn that he has lost control of the war to Poseidon and acts to restore universal order. He first turns on Hera, assuming she is fully responsible for the chaos since she is often disobedient. When she convinces him that she did not cause the sea god's entry into the war, he becomes surprisingly gentle with her and explains his future plans for the Greeks. Patroclos will enter the fighting and be killed by Hector. To avenge his friend's death, Achilles will return to the battlefield and kill Hector. After the death of the Trojan leader, the Greeks will take control and march on Troy. Hera rushes to Olympus to tell the other gods about Zeus' divine proclamation about the outcome of the war, which will be imposed at any cost.

When the King of the Immortals approaches Poseidon, the sea god claims that he, as Zeus' brother, has rights as co-inheritor of the universe. He states that his position over the sea should be just as powerful as that of Zeus, who controls the earth and sky. Zeus, however, sees himself as the supreme ruler of the universe and a stronger being than his brother Poseidon. He is infuriated that the sea god has left his domain and transgressed his authority over earth. Zeus knows he must subdue his brother and send him back to the sea so that harmony can be restored in the universe.

Now that Zeus has firmly established his authority on the divine level, he turns his attention to the war on earth. He sends Apollo to the wounded Hector, who is quickly healed by the god. Inspired by their leader's reappearance, the Trojans launch an attack on the Greek ships, which Ajax and Teucer try vainly to defend. Several vessels are set on fire, signifying a Trojan victory for the day. The victory, however, is to be short-lived, for at the end of the book, Patroclos, stirred by the Trojan assault, has left Eurypylos and is heading for the tent of Achilles. He will try to persuade his leader he has been idle too long and needs to return to the battle to save the Greeks.

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