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BOOK XIV: The Turn of the Tide


Nestor attends the wounded Machaon and then goes in search of Agamemnon. He finds him with Diomedes and Odysseus. Nestor tells the three wounded leaders about the destruction of the wall and the seeming determination of Zeus to ruin the affairs of the Greeks. Agamemnon replies, "Let's go home." Odysseus criticizes the king and says he despises him for suggesting retreat in the midst of battle. Diomedes agrees and proposes that the three of them should again station themselves with their men in order to inspire them. Suddenly, Poseidon, taking the form of an old man, appears to Agamemnon and speaks to him of Achilles. He claims that Achilles has no heart since he watches the Greeks being slaughtered from the sideline. He wishes that the gods would strike him down. As Poseidon departs over the plain, he gives a yell like ten thousand warriors.

Hera works to protect Poseidon. She goes to Aphrodite and asks the love goddess to make her beautiful and alluring. She then goes to the god of sleep and asks him to help her close the eyes of Zeus after their lovemaking. She finally approaches Zeus, who finds Hera very desirable. She easily overcomes him with passion and makes him fall asleep so that he will not see what Poseidon is doing.

Sleep finds Poseidon and tells him that the eyes of Father Zeus have been closed. Poseidon reacts immediately, taking action to help the Greeks. Because of Poseidon's help, the Greeks kill many Trojans, and Aias is even able to strike Hector with a boulder, wounding him and knocking him to the ground. The Trojan leader must be carried from the battle. Although the Trojans fight vigorously, they are no match for the Greeks, who now have a god on their side.


At the beginning of the fourteenth book, the Greek cause looks bleak, and Achilles' strength is needed more than ever. Agamemnon, Odysseus, and Diomedes are all wounded. The king once again suggests that they should give up the fight and return home in their ships, but Odysseus and Diomedes convince him that such an action would be cowardly and dangerous. Instead, they suggest that the three of them should return to the battlefield to encourage their troops.

As the three wounded leaders discuss the situation, Poseidon appears, disguised as an old man. He curses Achilles for his refusal to help the Greeks and says the hero should be struck down by the gods. His words are important, for they are a divine rebuke of Achilles' foolish anger and stubborn pride, even though Zeus is still on Achilles' side. As Poseidon departs, he gives a yell like that of ten thousand warriors. It is obvious that he wants to do something to help the Greek cause.

Seeing Poseidon's desire to help the Greeks, Hera does her part. She seeks Aphrodite's aid in making her beautiful and alluring, just like Helen, so that she can successfully tempt Zeus, just as Helen tempted Paris. She then goes to the god of sleep and bargains with him to cast a spell on Zeus after they have made love. She finally approaches Zeus, who cannot resist her charms and beauty. He tells her she is lovely and takes her to bed. Sleep then casts his spell on Zeus and goes to tell Poseidon the news.

Like all of the gods, Zeus has some almost human weaknesses, which his wife Hera recognizes. Since she knows he can be easily tempted by beauty, her plan works perfectly. After Zeus seduces Hera and falls asleep, the world below goes awry, just as disharmony resulted when Paris abducted Helen.

Once the king of the immortals is asleep, Poseidon takes control, becoming an active participant in the war on the side of the Greeks. With his aid, the Greeks are able to drive back the Trojans and wound Hector, causing him to be taken from the battle. Poseidon also causes the ocean to roar upon the plain, pushing the Trojans back even further. With the sea god's help, the Greeks cannot fail; but Zeus will not sleep forever.

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