Book 3 Summary

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Last Updated February 28, 2023.

The Trojans and Achaeans prepare to do battle, but Paris—who is ultimately responsible for the ongoing war by abducting Helen, the wife of the Achaean warrior, Menelaus—challenges the best of the Achaeans to a duel, intending to end the war with single-handed combat.

However, when Menelaus, who is a fearsome, well-decorated warrior, accepts his offer, Paris reneges on the offer and hides. Hector scolds Paris for causing the war but lacking the courage to fight in it. Chastened, Paris agrees to duel with Menelaus for Helen, leaving the rest of their armies out of it, and in so doing, preventing the deaths of countless soldiers.

Idaios is sent to summon King Priam, who rides down with Antenor in his chariot. Together with Agamemnon and Odysseus, they swear that whoever wins will keep Helen and all her possessions. If Priam does not honor this agreement when Menelaus wins, the war will continue until Troy is conquered and Helen is returned.

Two lambs are sacrificed as an oath, and Hector and Odysseus measure out a large open space between the two armies for them to duel. 

Lots are shaken, and Paris throws the first spear. Soon after, it becomes apparent that Menelaus is better skilled in combat than he is. Paris is knocked to the ground, and Menelaus starts to drag him over to the Achaeans. Before he can be taken by the Achaeans as a prize, however, Aphrodite wraps Paris in mist and spirits him away from the battlefield into his bedroom where she calls on Helen to join him there.  

Agamemnon declares Menelaus the victor, as he had the advantage before Paris disappeared. As such, he demands that the Trojans return Helen and her possessions as compensation for losing the duel. The Achaeans applaud their leader’s decision and rally behind him.

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