Briefly describe the battle between Ajax and Hector in Homer's Iliad.

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noahvox2 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the seventh book of Homer's Iliad, the Trojan Helenus proposes that Hector fight a single combat with one of the Greeks to determine the outcome of the war. Initially, all of the Greeks are too frightened to accept the challenge, so they draw lots to determine who will be Hector's opponent. Ajax "wins" this lottery. A description of Ajax arming himself for battle and a description of his shield follows.

After some initial "trash-talking" between the two warriors, Hector throws his spear, which penetrates six layers of Ajax's shield, "But it stopped at the seventh." Ajax's spear-cast also strikes Hector's shield, but Hector avoids being hit. Ajax then knocks Hector down with a massive stone, but Apollo raises Hector up.

At this point, two heralds intervene between the two men and stop the fighting since it is determined that "Cloud-gatherer Zeus cares for you both" (Ian Johnston translation) and that night is approaching.

The two warriors agree and exchange gifts to indicate that they fought but became "reconciled and parted friends."