Book 7 Summary

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Last Updated February 28, 2023.

Bored of the battle, which has ground to a standstill, Athena and Apollo devise a plan to give warriors on both sides a reprieve: they wish to manipulate Hector into challenging an Achaean warrior to single combat. They plant the idea in Helenus’s mind, and he brings the idea to Hector, who immediately puts it into action. 

Hector suggests the duel to the Achaeans, who readily agree to the challenge but must choose a representative. Menelaus is first to volunteer but is dissuaded by Agamemnon and Nestor's speech. Ultimately, nine Achaeans volunteer for the role, so lots are cast, and Telamonian Ajax is chosen from among them. 

A fierce battle ensues, lasting until dusk. Neither man is defeated, so gifts are exchanged, and the conflict ceases for the night, giving both armies to prepare funerals for their dead, build walls around their campsites, and offer prayers and sacrifices to Zeus. 

Both sides hold counsel, struggling to determine how to move forward. Antenor advises King Priam to return Helen, but Paris summarily refuses. Priam offers a compromise and sends Idaios to the Achaean camp to propose a momentary truce to allow both sides to bury their dead. 

Both armies tend to the bodies burning on funeral pyres. The Achaeans build a wall around their camp and surround it with a deep ditch full of stakes. Poseidon is enraged by the Achaeans’s presumption in building this sea wall, as they made no offer to him beforehand. However, Zeus placates him by agreeing to sweep the wall into the sea once the Achaeans leave. 

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