The Iliad by Homer – Book 24

The Iliad by Homer – Book 24

  • After the games, the men went back to their ships and ate. Achilles returned his thoughts to Patroclus. He cheered himself up by dragging Hector’s body around. Apollo wouldn’t let this disfigure the body.
  • Most the gods hated seeing this.
  • Apollo spoke to them –
    • You all ought to be ashamed. Hector made many a prayer to us and we’re just watching Achilles defile his body.
  • Juno – You’d only do this for Hector. Thetis, Achilles’s mother, is a goddess, raised by me. You all went to her wedding.
  • Jove – Easy there, Juno. They’re not on the same planet as each other. But of all the Trojans, we all know he was the best to us and I can’t allow this to continue. Send for Thetis. I’ll get her to make Achilles give the body back to Priam.
  • Iris went down to bring Thetis up to hear this.
  • Jove loosened her up with a couple of drinks and told her the score.
  • Thetis went down to speak with Thetis
    • This isn’t good to mourn so long and to fuck with Hector’s body. Let Priam give a ransom for the body of Hector.
  • Achilles – Fine if Jove wants it that way
  • Jove sent Iris to Troy to talk to Priam about Achilles willing to accept a ransom. No funny business…
  • Iris went down to a weeping Priam and told him the score.
  • Priam and his sons got a wagon but checked in with Hecuba (Hector’s mom and Priam’s wife)
  • She didn’t trust the Greeks about his safety or about the exchange with Achilles. She wanted revenge
  • Priam – Fine then. I’m going anyway. The gods have promised my protection. I need to mourn properly
  • He got the ransom on the wagon – cloaks, rugs, god, silverware, etc. to exchange for Hector’s body
  • He addressed 9 of his songs – All right, you useless things. We’ve got to get all this money and crap to Achilles to get your brother’s body back.
  • They loaded it onto the wago and waited for him.
  • Hecuba came out and made him drink a prayer drink to Jove to make sure the trip went well.
  • Jove sent an eagle as a signal to show that the trip would go fine.
  • They rode out toward the Greeks. Jove was watching and said to Mercury
    • Go make sure that things work our smoothly.
  • Mercury went down to survey and ran into Priam’s convoy who didn’t know who he was
  • He tells Priam as a stranger that he means him no harm and wishes to accompany him the whole way.
  • Priam appreciates this and is glad that the gods sent someone like him to help
  • They discuss Hector and Mercury (in disguise) assures him that the body is still in tip-top shape. Achilles has done his best to disfigure the body but to no avail
  • Priam appreciates the news and offers him some money but Mercury can’t accept gifts
  • He helps Priam across the battlefield with the dead, traps, trenches, etc. Then he reveals himself, giving Priam advice in how to handle his approach to Achilles in getting the body
  • Mercury left and Priam carried on until he reached Achilles’s place. Until he reached Achilles’s place. He went right to Achilles and fell to his knees, kissing his hands.
  • Achilles was stunned by this and Priam said to him:
    • Think of what your father would be going through in the other direction. All I want is my son’s body back
  • Achilles was touched. The 2 men sat there weep over their lost ones. Finally, Achilles spoke:
    • You’re brave, old man. Jove is a wicked god. He dishes out fate at random – happiness and then sadness… I’ve been sent here by the gods to destroy Troy. Mourning won’t do anything to change that.
  • Priam – Please accept this ransom I’ve brought in exchange for Hector’s body.
  • Achilles – Just so you know, I’m doing this only because I’ve been ordered to by the gods. Let’s just leave it at that.
  • As Priam is about to offer the ransom up for the body, Achilles realizes that he’s been dragging it around and runs back and tries to put it in good shape with nice clothes, etc. The gods had been watching over it. After that night, Priam would be able to mourn in private.
  • Food was prepared and offered. They ate and drank. Priam confessed not to have slept since hearing of Hector’s death.
  • Achilles offered him a place to stay – Best if you sleep outside lest Agamemnon accuse me of cavorting with the enemy
  • Priam – Anyway, it’s nice to be outside of the city for the first time in a long time. We’ll need 9 days 9 to mourn and another 3 to deal with the burial, etc.
  • Achilles – Whatever you need
  • They went to sleep. Mercury watched over them throughout the night to make sure everything was safe. He woke Priam up at dawn, prepared the horses for the body and accompanied him most of the way back to the city.
  • The people watched as Priam brought the body into the city. Andromache and Hecuba grieved over his dead body and the idea of Troy falling after the death of its hero.
  • Priam ordered the funeral pyre to be built for 9 days. The body was burnt and they buried it 3 days later.

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