Last Updated on April 28, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 534
The seriousness of the Achaian situation keeps Agamemnon from sleeping. He rises and gathers the leaders of the Achaian forces together to discuss strategy. They decide to send spies into the Trojan camps to see what they can learn of the Trojan battle plans. Diomedes offers to go if he can bring a companion for security. Odysseus is chosen and they go, fully armed.
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On the way, they encounter Dolon, a Trojan soldier sent out to spy on the Achaians. After initially letting him pass, they chase him down and capture him. Dolon is terrified and quickly confesses his mission. He also reveals the location of Hector, the type of guards set up by the Trojans, the positions of various fighting units, and the sleeping area of a newly arrived and unprotected force from Thrace. As Dolan attempts to plead for mercy, Diomedes kills him with his sword and takes his clothes and weapon. These spoils are offered as gifts to Athena.
Diomedes and Odysseus then head for the Thracian camp and kill twelve sleeping Thracians. The thirteenth man killed is the Thracian king, Rhesos, owner of a splendid team of horses. The Achaians then release the horses and escape with them, heading back to their ships. When they return with their spoils, they are joyfully received by the Achaians. The two men wash themselves in the sea, sit down to a meal, and make offerings to Athena.
Diomedes again shows his loyalty to the Achaian cause by being the first to volunteer to infiltrate the Trojan camps. Knowledge of troop configuration and security plans would be a real advantage to the Achaians, who are in a very vulnerable position. Realizing the danger of the mission, Diomedes goes only on the condition that he can choose a companion for security. Diomedes has consistently been among the first to volunteer for any challenge presented. This, again, is in sharp contrast to Achilles, who lets his differences with Agamemnon keep him completely removed from battle, where he is sorely needed.
In this book we see another example of a Trojan warrior pleading for his life. When Diomedes and Odysseus capture Dolon, the trembling Trojan tries to convince them to take him alive. While Diomedes has volunteered to spy out of a sense of duty and responsibility, Dolon has offered for selfish reasons. Hector has promised him that Achilles’s horses would be his as reward. Having no loyalty to the Trojan cause, he does not hesitate to reveal every tactical secret he knows when he runs into danger. Like every other Trojan who pleads for mercy, Dolon has no chance. As soon as he has given Diomedes the information, he is killed with a sword and his armor is taken as spoils.
The murder of the sleeping troops from Thrace seems particularly savage. These men are not even given a chance to defend themselves. However, the slain were part of a contingent of fresh troops. As such, they would be particularly dangerous to the Achaians, who are by now rather battle-weary. The horses taken are quite a magnificent prize and have the added benefit of offering a means of quick escape for Odysseus and Diomedes.