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BOOK IV: Trojans Against Achaeans (Greeks)


Book IV opens on Mt. Olympus. Zeus, almost teasingly, suggests to the gods that the war between the Greeks and Trojans is over since Menelaos has won the duel. Helen must now be returned to her rightful husband, and the Greeks can leave Troy and sail for home. Hera and Athena, the staunchest supporters of the Greeks, do not like the idea of the Trojans getting off so easily. Hera, in particular, dislikes such a harmonious end to the conflict. She complains that all of her sweat and toil for the Greeks has been useless if Troy is left unharmed. She wants to see the city completely destroyed.

Carefully beginning to plot against the Greeks as promised, Zeus pretends that he would like a harmonious end to the war, but declares that harmony in heaven is more important. As a result, he agrees to let Hera do as she wishes to Troy; however, she must also agree that if Zeus ever wishes to destroy a city dear to her, she must not contradict him. Not realizing that she is being tricked, Hera agrees.

Athena is then sent to stir up the conflict between the Trojans and Greeks. She appears as a mortal to Pandarus, a Trojan who seems willing to do her bidding. She tells him that he must avenge the Trojans by killing Menelaos. Following her command, he girds himself for battle and shoots an arrow at the enemy. Menelaos is only grazed by the arrow, which is directed by Athena.

Agamemnon, seeing that his brother has been wounded by a Trojan, feels he has been deceived. He is infuriated that the Trojans have broken the peace that was agreed upon by oath. He prepares the Greek troops for battle and declares that he will make certain that Troy soon falls. Unaware that Zeus is working on the Trojan side, Agamemnon feels confident that the god will work with him to help the Greeks avenge the breaking of the peace treaty.

Agamemnon dispatches a herald to summon the physician, Machaon, to tend to his wounded brother. The wise leader then moves among his troops, preparing them for battle with the Trojans. He speaks to Idomeneus, Nestor, Odysseus, Diomedes, and other leaders. He scorns one and cajoles another as needed until they are all prepared to join in the fight. At the same time, Apollo encourages the Trojan troops. When the battle finally begins, the fighting is fierce, with many casualties on both sides.


At the beginning of the this book, the Greeks genuinely feel that they have won the war due to the victory of Menelaos over Paris and the Trojans' agreement to a peace treaty. They are ready to receive Helen, as promised, and then to set sail for home. Zeus, however, has not ratified the peace treaty and has other plans for the Trojans and Greeks.

Book IV opens on Mt. Olympus, where Zeus is meeting with the immortals, who do not know that he has agreed to help the Trojan cause. As he discusses the peace treaty, Hera and Athena, two staunch supporters of the Greek cause, are upset. They do not like the harmonious end to the war and still want to see Troy destroyed. Zeus, pretending that he wants to keep harmony in heaven, agrees to let Hera do what she wants to the Trojans. In truth, he is using his wife and his daughter to carry out his own plans. Zeus wants to see a total victory so that peace and harmony can be fully restored to the universe. As a result, he allows Athena and Hera to lay their plans to restart the conflict between the Greeks and Trojans.

Even though Athena is disguised as a mortal when she comes to earth, her visit to the Trojan warrior, Pandaros, reveals again the interaction between the divine and human. Knowing that the Trojan soldier has the heart of a fool, she easily persuades him that he needs to avenge Paris and the Trojans by killing Menelaos and earning himself great praise. When he shoots his bow as encouraged by Athena, she guides the arrow, making certain that it does not kill Menelaos, but only wounds him. She is certain that this violation of the peace treaty will cause the war to start again. She is equally as sure that the Greeks will defeat the Trojans in the end.

When Agamemnon sees his wounded brother, he is infuriated that the Trojans have broken the peace treaty. He realizes it was foolish on his part to think that the war could be ended as a result of an individual combat. He now knows that all of Troy must be punished, not just Paris. Like Zeus, he believes that the final victory must be all encompassing. Agamemnon immediately goes to work. He visits with his military leaders, who are named one by one. Once again it becomes noticeable that Achilles is missing from the fold.

In order to spur them to action, Agamemnon cajoles and shames the great warriors, accusing some of them of lethargy and weakness. He then claims that the present soldiers will never equal the powerful warriors of old. His men react as anticipated. They are quickly driven to a fevered pitch, ready for battle. The Trojans are also ready for the fight, spurred on by Apollo. Zeus, the universal godhead and the universal justice, is surely smiling at what he sees. His plan has been put back into motion.

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