Iliad Books 4 and 5 Summary and Analysis
by Homer

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Books 4 and 5 Summary and Analysis

New Characters
Pandaros: the Trojan who breaks the truce by shooting an arrow at Menelaos

Talthybios: herald of Menelaos who summons Machaon to heal Menelaos’ wound

Machaon: healer who treats Menelaos’ wound

Idomeneus: leader of the Cretan forces who pledges loyalty to Agamemnon

Diomedes: one of the strongest Achaian warriors

Stethenelos: companion of Diomedes

Ares: God of War who helps the Trojans

Antilochos: first Achaian to kill a Trojan warrior

Telamonian Aias: one of the strongest Achaian warriors

Antiphos: son of Priam and strong Trojan warrior

Hektor: son of Priam and leader of the Trojan forces

Apollo: god who fights on the Trojan side

Aineias: son of Aphrodite and counselor to the Trojans, wounded by Diomedes

Dione: mother of Aphrodite who heals her wound

Sarpedon: Trojan warrior who urges Hektor to rally his troops

Paieon: healer god who treats Ares’ wound

Book Four opens with a meeting of the gods, who discuss the outcome of the duel in the last chapter. Zeus recommends ending the war, as Menelaos was decidedly the winner. However, Hera and Athene are bent on destroying Troy completely, and argue against a truce. In the end, Athene is sent to provoke further fighting.

She accomplishes her goal by persuading Pandaros to gain glory for himself by killing Menelaos. Pandaros takes her advice and shoots an arrow at Menelaos. The arrow reaches its mark and draws blood, but is not fatal. The action produces the desired results, and both sides are stirred to battle. The fighting is fierce, and a great number of soldiers are killed on both sides.

As Book Five opens, the battle is still waging. The center of attention here is Diomedes, who, with help from Athene, performs many courageous acts. When Diomedes is wounded by Pandaros, Athene gives him the advantage of recognizing the gods on the battlefield. She warns him, however, not to engage any of the gods in combat except Aphrodite whom she despises.

Diomedes continues to kill many Trojans, and eventually wounds the son of Aphrodite, Aineias. Aphrodite quickly comes to her son’s rescue, leading him out of the battle. Diomedes, however, intent on finishing the job of killing Aineias, chases them and wounds Aphrodite in the hand with his spear. Aphrodite drops her son and runs off to Olympus hurt and frightened. Zeus orders her to stay out of the war as she is not trained in warfare. Apollo then carries Aineias to safety.

The advantage goes back and forth as the gods lend their aid to one side and then the other. At a point when Ares is spurring the Trojans on to the upper hand, Athene and Hera urge Diomedes on and he badly injures Ares with his spear. The God of War angrily leaves the field and heads for Olympus to complain to Zeus. Zeus, however, is not sympathetic, and tells Ares his violent nature led to his wound. The battle on earth continues without help from the gods on either side.

Discussion and Analysis
At this point in the story, it looks as though the war will end, Helen will be returned to Menelaos, and the Achaians will sail for home. Zeus is concerned for the mortals. However, Hera and Athene have a long-standing grudge against Troy and want to see the city destroyed. The decision of the immortals to encourage further conflict will bring about the deaths of many warriors on both sides.

When Athene chooses Pandaros to break the truce, she knows that he is not incredibly bright. The war has now been raging for nine long years. Both armies are tired of the fighting and eager to return to their families. This became evident in...

(The entire section is 931 words.)