Summary: Book 9
The Trojans are ready to push the Achaeans to return to their ships, and the Achaean troops are brokenhearted and siting in their camp. Agamemnon stands before them, and he weeps while saying that the war is a failure. He suggests a disgraceful return to Greece. Diomedes objects, declaring that he will remain and fight even if he does so alone. He tries to improve the morale of the soldiers by pointing out that Troy’s fate is to fall. Nestor says that they should persevere too, and he suggests that there be a reconciliation with Achilles. Agamemnon perceives that this is a wise idea, and he opts to offer Achilles many gifts on the condition that he go back to the Achaean lines. The king selects men that are among Achaeans’ best, including the Great Ajax, Odysseus, and Phoenix, to present the proposal to Achilles.
The embassy comes upon Achilles, who is playing the lyre, in his tent. He is in the company of Patroclus, his dear friend. Agamemnon’s offer is presented by Odysseus. It is immediately rejected by Achilles. He declares his intention to go back to Phthia, his homeland. He wants to live a long and prosaic life rather than a short and glorious one as he will have if he remains where he is. Achilles says that he is willing to take Phoenix. Phoenix assisted in rearing him in Phtia. Phoenix wants to stay, however, and he emotionally begins a long plea with Achilles to stay. He alludes to an ancient story, that of Meleager, a warrior who refused to fight when in a rage. The story shows the importance of responding to pleads coming from desperate friends. However, Achilles chooses to remain firm. He still feels insulted by Agamemnon. The embassy is forced to return unsuccessful. Despair overtakes the army again.
Summary: Book 10
That night, the Greek commanders sleep soundly with the exceptions of Menelaus and Agamemnon. Eventually, they wake and get the others up. On the Trojan side of the fortifications, they meet together on open ground, to plan what they will do next. Nestor believes that they should send a spy for infiltration of the Trojan ranks. Diomedes promptly volunteers to fill this role. He requests support, and Odysseus offers his help. Diomedes and Odysseus arm themselves and leave for the Trojan camp. A heron that Athena has sent calls out. It is on their right-hand side. They pray to Athena, asking for protection.
The Trojans come up with their own acts of reconnaissance in the meantime. Hector wants to find out if the Achaeans have an escape planned. He chooses Dolon, a man who is very quick but unattractive, to be his scout. He promises to give him Achilles’ chariot and horses as a reward after the fall of the Achaeans. Dolon sets out on his way, and he quickly comes across Odysseus and Diomedes. He is interrogated by the two men. In an effort to save his life, he tells them about the Trojans’ positions, as well as those of their allies. He tells them that the newly arrived Thracians are currently in a vulnerable position. Dolon is then killed by Diomedes. His armor is stripped from him.
Odysseus and Diomedes then make their way to the Thracian camp. It is there that they kill a king, Rhesus, and twelve soldiers. They also take the king’s chariot and horses. Athena gives them a warning about an angry god that could wake the other soldiers. Odysseus and Diomedes ride the chariot they have stolen back to the Achaean camp. Nestor and other Greeks have been worried that their comrades could be dead, and they give him a warm greeting.