A plague has struck the Achaean
(Greek) camp brought on by Apollo, who can only be appeased with the return of
Chryseis, daughter of a priest of Apollo, to her father. If Agamemnon has to
return his war prize, Chryseis, then he will seize Achilles’ war prize, the
maiden Briseis, in order to keep face as the leader of the Achaean troops. With
this, Achilles is publicly disgraced and, in anger, withdraws all of his troops
from battle. Achilles prays to his divine mother, Thetis, and asks her to
persuade Zeus to make the Achaeans lose the battle so they will see that they
should not have dishonored him.
Zeus begins to fulfill his promise
to Thetis to bring honor to Achilles. He deceives Agamemnon with a dream
that promises victory. Agamemnon calls the Achaean leaders together to
tell them his dream. First, he tests the troops by saying that they are
going home. Much to his chagrin, the soldiers run for the ships; only
Odysseus is able to rally them and shame them into staying. The troops
assemble and all of the Achaean contingents are listed in a catalogue of the
ships. Back in Troy, the Trojans arm to meet the Achaeans and their
warriors and allies are catalogued as well.
Paris challenges any of the
Achaeans to a duel and Menelaos accepts. A truce is declared while Agamemnon
and Hektor determine the conditions of the duel; Helen is to be awarded to the
winner. Helen joins Priam on the walls of Troy and names the Achaean
warriors for him. Then, Priam goes to the battlefield to swear an oath
with Agamemnon to respect the results of the duel. Menelaos and Paris
fight. When Menelaos wounds Paris, Aphrodite snatches him away to the safety of
his bedroom in Troy and to Helen.
At a council of the gods on Mount Olympos, Zeus considers
bringing the Trojan War to an end after nine years and sparing the city of
Troy. Hera angrily objects, and Zeus sends Athena to break the truce.
Athena persuades Pandaros, a Trojan nobleman, to shoot an arrow at Menelaos.
Menelaos is wounded, the truce is broken and, as Agamemnon rallies the troops,
fighting breaks out.
With fighting resumed, both armies battle bravely but the
outstanding warrior is the Achaean hero, Diomedes, who Athena has inspired with
exceptional courage and skill, as well as the ability to distinguish gods from
men. However, he must not engage any of the gods with the exception of
Aphrodite. Diomedes kills Pandaros and is about to kill Aeneas when Aphrodite
intervenes to save her son. When he wounds Aphrodite, Ares comes to help the
Trojans. The goddesses, Hera and Athena, join in on the Achaean side.
Diomedes and the Trojan, Glaukos,
are about to fight when they discover they are ’guest-friends’: their grandfathers
had visited each other and exchanged gifts. Hektor returns to Troy to ask the
Trojan women to make a sacrifice to Athena to win her pity. He discovers
Paris at home with Helen and rebukes his brother for abandoning the
battlefield. Hektor takes the opportunity to visit his own home and in a
moving scene, says an emotional good-bye to his wife, Andromache, and their
baby, Astyanax, before returning to battle.
Back on the battlefield, Hektor proposes a duel with one
of the Achaeans. However, none of the Achaeans is brave enough to accept the
Trojan heroes challenge. Nestor chides the warriors until nine of the Achaean
champions volunteer to fight Hektor. Finally, Telamonian Ajax is chosen by lot
and the warriors engage in a ferocious fight, but the duel ends in a draw as
night falls. Both sides agree to a truce to bury the dead, and the
Achaeans build a wall and a trench to defend their ships and fortify their
The battle resumes. At a council
on Olympus, Zeus tells the gods that he is planning on bringing the war to an
end and orders them not to interfere on either side. He decides to give the
day’s victory to the Trojans. Hera and Athena try to help the Achaeans, but are
stopped by Zeus who foretells Patroklos’ death and Achilles' return to the
fighting. The Trojans reach the Achaean wall and Hektor persuades the
Trojans to camp on the plain for the night in order to retain the advantage for
the morning’s assault.
The Achaean leaders hold an assembly. Agamemnon, on the
verge of tears, proposes to go home, but Diomedes and Nestor dissuade him, for
it is fated that Troy will eventually fall. Agamemnon admits his mistake at
having insulted Achilles and Nestor convinces him to return Briseis and offer
Achilles splendid gifts in reconciliation. Odysseus, Telamonian Ajax and
Phoenix, Achilles aged tutor, are sent as emissaries to Achilles' tent with
Agamemnon’s offer, if he will return to battle. Achilles, putting his injured
pride above all else, rejects their appeals.
Worried about their situation, Agamemnon can’t sleep so he
calls upon Diomedes and Odysseus to scout out the Trojan camp that
night. On the way, they capture Dolon, a Trojan nobleman sent by Hektor to
spy on the Achaeans. After extracting advantageous information from Dolon, they
kill him. They then sneak into the Trojan camp, brutally murder Rhesos, a
Trojan ally, and twelve of his warriors, and lead off their magnificent horses
Battle resumes the next morning
and several prominent Achaean warriors are wounded and must leave the fighting.
Achilles watches the defeat and, troubled by the turn of events, sends
Patroklos, his comrade-in-arms, to find out about the casualties, since his own
wounded pride will not allow him to openly show an interest in the fate of the Achaeans.
Nestor urges Patroklos to persuade Achilles to return to battle, or at least
let Patroklos and Achilles’ troops, the Myrmidons, resume fighting for the
The battle is bloody. Agamemnon, Diomedes and Odysseus are
all wounded and the Achaeans are forced to take refuge behind their wall.
Hektor and the Trojans breach the wall and storm the Achaean
camp. Poseidon, against Zeus’ previous order, rallies the Achaeans, and
Telamonian Ajax and the Lesser Ajax defend the Achaean ships. Hera figures out
what Poseidon is up to and seduces Zeus to distract his attention away from the
battle. As the Achaeans rally, Hektor is wounded. Having fallen asleep,
Zeus wakes up and threatens the gods to cease their assistance. Hektor returns to
the battle, drives the Achaeans back to their ships, and tries to set them on
Following Nestor’s advice,
Patroklos pleads with Achilles to let him wear his armor and lead the Myrmidons
into battle. Achilles warns him to do no more than rescue the ships, which
are now burning, and to return once he has driven the Trojans away. The
Trojans are driven back and Patroklos kills many of them including, Sarpedon, a
mortal son of Zeus. Hera persuades Zeus not to intervene to save
him. Patroklos ignores Achilles' warning and pursues Hektor all the way to
the walls of Troy where he is finally slain by Hektor, with the aid of Apollo.
Menelaos attempts to protect
Patroklos’ dead body but is driven off by Hektor who strips the corpse of
Achilles’ prized armor. A battle immediately develops between the two sides
over Patroklos' naked corpse. The Trojans hope to take it back to Troy and
mutilate it as a warning to Achilles, while the Achaeans wish to give it the
proper funeral rites. Finally the corpse is rescued and safely carried back to
the Achaean camp.
Achilles is beside himself when he
learns of Patroklos' death. Thetis, his mother, comes to console him. He
wants to rejoin the battle but Thetis foretells that he will die if he avenges
his friend. Nonetheless determined, Thetis leaves to procure new armor for her
son from Hephaistos, the smith of the gods. The Trojans learn of Achilles
return to battle and Hektor rejects advice that they withdraw into Troy for the
night. Achilles continues to mourn over Patroklos. An elaborate description is
given of Achilles’ new armor.
Achilles calls the Achaean troops
to an assembly where he renounces his quarrel with Agamemnon. Agamemnon
blames Zeus for their quarrel, returns Briseis to Achilles and presents him
with gifts. The troops are given time to rest and eat but Achilles
announces that he will fast until Patroklos is avenged. Before returning to
battle, Achilles rebukes his horses for not protecting Patroklos. One of them
answers by prophesying his death.
Zeus calls an assembly and permits
the gods to openly assist either side. Hera, Athena, Poseidon, Hermes and
Hephaistos join the Achaeans while Ares, Apollo, Artemis, and Aphrodite join
the Trojans. Fighting resumes and many Trojans die at the hands of Achilles.
Achilles is about to kill Aeneas, when Poseidon rescues the Trojan prince,
since it is fated that he will be the sole survivor of the house of Priam.
Achilles brutally slaughters many
Trojans in the River Xanthos, which is soon bleeding red and choked with
corpses. Angered, the river attempts to drown Achilles with currents and great
waves. He is finally rescued by Athena and Poseidon. The gods also battle
each other while Zeus looks on. Athena defeats Ares and Aphrodite while
Hera drives Artemis from the field. Poseidon challenges Apollo, who defers to
his older uncle. Achilles chases the Trojans to Troy, seeking protection within
Hektor stands outside Troy’s gates
preparing to meet Achilles in single combat. Suddenly overcome with fear,
Hektor flees as Achilles pursues him three times around the city walls. Athena
deludes Hektor into thinking that he will have divine aid so he turns to
fight. After a m’l’e, Achilles kills Hektor, strips off his armor, and
fastens his naked body to his chariot by his heels, dragging it around the
walls of Troy. Hektor’s parents and wife look on in horror, mourning him and
the inevitable fall of Troy.
Patroklos appears to Achilles in a
dream and urges him to hold a funeral for him so that he can enter Hades, the
realm of the dead. The next day, the body of Patroklos is placed on top of
a funeral pyre, along with sacrifices consisting of several horses, hunting
dogs and twelve Trojan noblemen captured by Achilles. Then, Achilles hosts
splendid funeral games in Patroklos' honor and distributes prizes to the
competitors in the different athletic events. During this time, Hektor’s body
is lying on the ground unattended.
For nine days Achilles continues
to mistreat Hektor’s corpse by dragging it around the Achaean camp. The gods
are outraged by this and decide that Priam must be allowed to ransom the body
of his son. Thetis informs Achilles of the decision and the gods inspire
Priam to visit Achilles' tent and beg him to accept a splendid ransom for his
son’s body. Priam and Achilles grieve together for their losses, the body
is returned to Troy, and the Trojans conduct funeral rites for Hektor.