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Free Study Guide-The Iliad by Homer-Free Online Book Notes Summary
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BOOK XIX: Achilles Makes friends

Summary

Thetis, bearing the wonderful new armor that Hephaestus has forged for her son, comes to Achilles. She tells him that he must put aside his grief for Patroclos and reconcile his quarrel with Agamemnon. Responding to his mother's command, Achilles seeks out the king, offers his apologies, and promises to enter the battle immediately. Agamemnon admits that he too is blameworthy and deceived by Delusion. The king then offers to return Briseis, along with other gifts. Achilles, however, is presently only concerned about the war.

While the other Greeks rest and eat a meal before the fighting begins, Achilles does not touch a morsel, stating that he will fast until he has avenged the death of his friend. As a result, he is tended by Athena, who fills him with ambrosia and other divine nourishment to sustain his body. Finally, the time arrives for battle. Achilles girds himself in his splendid new armor and prepares his chariot for fighting. As he readies his horses, they speak to him, saying that Apollo is responsible for the death of Patroclos. More importantly, the horses prophesy the death of Achilles on the battlefield, a fact that he already knows. In spite of the warning, Achilles gives a battle cry and rides into the fight.


Notes

In Book XVIII, Achilles decides to put aside his anger and enter the battle in order to avenge the death of Patroclos. In this book, he goes a step further. Encouraged by his mother, he decides to reconcile with Agamemnon. He seeks out the king and offers his apologies. In the end both Achilles and Agamemnon blame the force of Delusion for the quarrel.

In truth, Achilles has not ended his feelings of wrath; instead, he has simply transferred his anger from Agamemnon to Hector and the Trojans. From this book until the end of the poem, Achilles will be driven by this new hatred, which will take on the same excessive characteristics as his earlier anger against Agamemnon and his troops. The excess is seen immediately. When the other Greeks wisely choose to rest and eat before entering battle, Achilles refuses to touch a morsel, saying he will fast until the death of Patroclos is avenged.

The magical nature of Achilles' horses is clearly depicted in this book. As he readies them for battle, the horses talk to him. First they tell Achilles that Apollo is really the one responsible for the death of Patroclos. They also foretell of Achilles death on the battlefield. Since he has already heard this prophecy, it does not affect Achilles; instead, he shouts a loud battle cry and heads off to fight.

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