Book 2 Summary

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Last Updated February 28, 2023.

Zeus begins to help Achilles exact revenge against Agamemnon. He sends Dream in the form of Nestor—a seasoned veteran—to Agamemnon, conveying the message that the gods are on their side, so they will be victorious against Troy. 

Buoyed by this message, Agamemnon is confident that he and his Achaeans will conquer Troy. To ensure that Nestor’s words are true, he summons his armies and tests their resolve by telling them that he wishes to end the war and return home. To his surprise, the men are overjoyed and quickly head to the ships that will take them home.

Hera is not pleased with this, as she does not wish to see the conflict—which she and the other gods have closely tracked—come to an end, so she sends Athena down to urge the men back to fight. Athena tells Odysseus how pointless all the deaths across the last ten years of the war would be if the Achaeans went home now and convinces him to sway the men back into fighting.

Odysseus takes up Agamemnon’s scepter and taunts the men into going back to battle. However, Thersites refutes Odysseus’s reasoning and insults Agamemnon. Odysseus rebukes Thersites for his refusal to listen and beats him with the scepter, which is met with applause from the soldiers. 

Odysseus reminds them of their pledges to serve and recalls the sign they received before setting sail for Troy: a snake devouring eight sparrow chicks then turning to stone. Nestor interjects, reminding the soldiers about the flashes of lightning they witnessed as they sailed toward Troy, which signified their victory. 

Convinced by these arguments, the armies disperse to prepare for battle, sacrificing to the gods and praying to survive the imminent conflict. The narrator lists the Achaean army divisions, describing their leaders and the number of ships they command, contextualizing the immense manpower of the Achaean forces.

Meanwhile, the goddess Iris hurries to warn the Trojans of an impending attack. Hector, the greatest of the Trojan warriors, leads his troops through the city gates and prepares to defend the city. The narrator accompanies Hector’s leadership and bravery with a list of the Trojan army divisions fighting alongside him, revealing the vastness of the Trojan forces and indicating the massive scale of the conflict. 

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Book 1 Summary


Book 3 Summary