Books 16 and 17 Summary

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated February 28, 2023.

Book 16

Patroclus brings grim news to Achilles from Nestor and begs him to put aside his pride and fight for the Achaeans. Achilles refuses to join the fray but agrees to send Patroclus in his armor into battle, although he warns his friend not to press too far.

The Trojans are terrified when they see Patroclus, as they imagine him to be Achilles. Patroclus surges forward, killing many Trojans, including Sarpedon, a son of Zeus. He advances the front line so far that Apollo is forced to step in and prevent him from taking Troy itself; as Apollo pushes Patroclus back, Hector throws a spear that mortally wounds the Achaean. As Patroclus lies dying, he predicts that Hector will soon meet death at the hand of Achilles himself.

Book 17

Menelaus stands over Patroclus's body to prevent the Trojans from taking his armor but is unable to hold them back, so Hector takes Achilles’s armor as a spoil of war. 

Ajax joins Menelaus to help protect the body; a fight breaks out between both sides as they attempt to carry it away. Apollo urges on the Trojans while Athena assists the Achaeans in their struggle for possession of Patroclus’s corpse. 

When Achilles's horses learn that Patroclus, their charioteer, has been killed by Hector, they weep. Another charioteer, Automedon, drives them into battle. Hector attempts to take control of them but fails. 

The Achaeans eventually win possession of Patroclus's body and take him back to camp for a proper burial, despite the ongoing fighting.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Previous

Books 14 and 15 Summary

Next

Book 18 Summary