Detailed Summary of Book 21 of the Iliad

In Book 21 of the Iliad, the Trojan War continues to rage on as the Greek hero Achilles returns to battle. This book focuses on the intense and brutal fighting that takes place between Achilles …

Detailed Summary of Book 21 of the Iliad

In Book 21 of the Iliad, the Trojan War continues to rage on as the Greek hero Achilles returns to battle. This book focuses on the intense and brutal fighting that takes place between Achilles and the Trojan warrior, Aeneas.

Achilles, fueled by his anger and desire for revenge after the death of his beloved friend Patroclus, shows no mercy on the battlefield. With his godlike strength and skill, he cuts down Trojan soldiers left and right, leaving a trail of destruction in his wake. The Trojans are terrified and are forced to retreat, seeking refuge behind the walls of their city.

However, Aeneas, a noble and courageous warrior, refuses to back down. He stands his ground and faces Achilles head-on. The two heroes clash in a fierce battle, exchanging blows and displaying their incredible fighting abilities. The gods watch in awe as these mortal men fight with such ferocity and skill.

Throughout the battle, Achilles gains the upper hand, overpowering Aeneas and driving him back. Aeneas, realizing he is no match for the mighty Achilles, calls upon the gods for help. His mother, the goddess Aphrodite, appears and shields him from Achilles’ deadly spear. However, Achilles is not deterred and continues to press his attack, determined to kill Aeneas.

As the battle rages on, the gods intervene once again. Athena, the goddess of wisdom, tells Achilles to stop pursuing Aeneas and instead focus his attention on the Trojan prince Hector, the man responsible for the death of Patroclus. Achilles agrees and reluctantly lets Aeneas go, vowing to find and kill Hector.

Book 21 of the Iliad showcases the raw power, skill, and determination of Achilles as he seeks vengeance for his fallen comrade. It highlights the brutal nature of war and the unwavering courage of the Trojan warriors. This book sets the stage for the epic showdown between Achilles and Hector in the following books, as the fate of Troy hangs in the balance.


The Iliad is an ancient Greek epic poem attributed to Homer. It is one of the oldest surviving works of Western literature and tells the story of the Trojan War. The war is fought between the Greeks, led by King Agamemnon, and the Trojans, led by King Priam. The poem covers a period of just a few weeks during the tenth and final year of the war.

Book 21 of the Iliad focuses on the battle between Achilles, the greatest Greek warrior, and the Trojan prince Hector. Achilles has been angered by the death of his close friend Patroclus, who was killed by Hector. In his grief and rage, Achilles has reentered the battle and is seeking revenge against the Trojans.

This book is known for its intense and brutal combat scenes, as well as its exploration of the themes of honor, glory, and the futility of war. It also highlights the contrast between Achilles, who is consumed by his desire for revenge, and Hector, who fights for the defense of his city and his people.

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The events of Book 21 take place outside the walls of Troy, as Achilles pursues Hector in a chariot. The two warriors engage in a fierce battle, with Achilles ultimately emerging victorious. The book ends with Achilles dragging Hector’s body back to the Greek camp, where he is mourned by his family and fellow Trojans.

Overall, Book 21 of the Iliad is a pivotal moment in the story, marking the climax of the conflict between Achilles and Hector. It showcases the brutality of war and the devastating consequences it has on both individuals and societies.

The Battle of the Gods

Detailed Summary of Book 21 of the Iliad

In Book 21 of the Iliad, the gods join the battle between the Greeks and the Trojans. Zeus, the king of the gods, starts the conflict by sending a lightning bolt to the ground. The gods take sides, with some supporting the Greeks and others supporting the Trojans.

Apollo, the god of archery, helps the Trojans by shooting arrows at the Greek warriors. Athena, the goddess of wisdom, aids the Greeks by protecting their warriors and giving them strength. The two gods engage in a fierce battle, with Apollo trying to break Athena’s shield and Athena attempting to pierce Apollo’s armor.

Meanwhile, Poseidon, the god of the sea, assists the Greeks by shaking the earth and causing panic among the Trojans. He also destroys parts of the Trojan wall, allowing the Greek warriors to enter the city. However, Apollo intervenes and repairs the wall, preventing the Greeks from fully breaching the defenses.

As the battle rages on, Zeus watches from Mount Olympus and is entertained by the gods’ involvement. He pities the mortals who are caught in the middle of the conflict and decides to end the fighting for the day. He sends a sign to the Greeks, encouraging them to retreat and regroup for the next day’s battle.

Gods Supporting the Greeks: Athena Poseidon Hera
Gods Supporting the Trojans: Apollo Ares Aphrodite

The battle of the gods in Book 21 highlights the divine intervention in the mortal war. The gods’ actions directly impact the outcome of the battle, and their conflicts mirror the struggles on the battlefield. It also emphasizes the power and influence of the gods in Greek mythology and their ability to manipulate the fate of mortals.

Achilles Returns to the Battle

In Book 21 of the Iliad, Achilles, who had been withdrawn from the battle due to his anger towards Agamemnon, finally decides to rejoin the fight against the Trojans. This decision comes after the death of his close friend Patroclus, who was killed by Hector. Filled with grief and rage, Achilles is determined to avenge Patroclus’ death and bring glory to his fallen comrade.

Achilles approaches the battle in a chariot, pulled by his horses Xanthus and Balius. His appearance on the battlefield strikes fear into the hearts of the Trojans, as they remember his previous feats of strength and skill in combat. The Trojans scramble to defend themselves, but Achilles proves to be an unstoppable force.

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The Fight with Hector

Achilles’ first target is Hector, the man responsible for Patroclus’ death. He seeks revenge and challenges Hector to single combat. Hector, despite his initial fear, accepts the challenge and prepares to face Achilles in battle. The two warriors clash, with Achilles displaying his superior skill and strength.

Achilles quickly gains the upper hand, overpowering Hector and delivering several devastating blows. Despite Hector’s bravery and skill, he is no match for Achilles’ rage and determination. Achilles finally delivers a fatal blow to Hector, ending the fight and avenging Patroclus’ death.

The Trojans’ Retreat

With their greatest warrior defeated, the Trojans begin to retreat. Achilles continues his rampage, slaying numerous Trojan soldiers and causing chaos among their ranks. The Trojans are unable to regroup and defend themselves effectively against Achilles’ relentless assault.

Achilles’ return to the battle marks a turning point in the war, as the Trojans are now at a severe disadvantage. His presence on the battlefield inspires the Greek soldiers and demoralizes the Trojans. The Greeks gain the upper hand and begin to push the Trojans back towards their city.

Achilles Returns to the Battle
Book 21 of the Iliad

The Duel Between Achilles and Hector

In Book 21 of the Iliad, the long-awaited duel between Achilles and Hector finally takes place. This momentous event is a turning point in the story and marks the ultimate clash between the two greatest warriors of the Trojan War.

The Build-Up

Detailed Summary of Book 21 of the Iliad

Before the duel, there is much anticipation and tension in the air. The Trojan army is fearful of Achilles, who has been wreaking havoc on their forces ever since he rejoined the battle following the death of his close friend Patroclus. Hector, on the other hand, is determined to face Achilles head-on and restore honor to his people.

Achilles, fueled by rage and grief, is eager to avenge Patroclus’ death and seeks revenge against Hector for killing his friend. Both warriors are driven by their personal motives, making the duel all the more intense.

The Duel

As the duel begins, the two warriors exchange fierce blows and taunts. Achilles, equipped with his invincible armor forged by the god Hephaestus, proves to be a formidable opponent. Hector, although valiant, is no match for Achilles’ superior strength and skill.

Despite Hector’s bravery, Achilles gains the upper hand and delivers a fatal blow. As Hector lies dying, he pleads with Achilles to return his body to his family for a proper burial. However, Achilles, consumed by anger and vengeance, refuses and instead drags Hector’s lifeless body around the city walls of Troy.

This act of desecration further fuels the anger and grief of the Trojan people, setting the stage for the final acts of the epic.

The Funeral Rites of Hector

Detailed Summary of Book 21 of the Iliad

In Book 21 of the Iliad, the funeral rites of Hector, the great Trojan warrior, are described in detail. After his death at the hands of Achilles, his body is retrieved by his family and brought back to Troy.

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The Trojans gather around the body of Hector, mourning his loss and lamenting the fall of their city. The women of Troy, led by Hector’s wife Andromache, wail and grieve for their fallen hero.

Hector’s father, King Priam, orders the preparation of a grand funeral pyre. The Trojans gather wood and build a massive structure to cremate Hector’s body. The pyre is adorned with flowers and other offerings, as the Trojans pay their respects to their fallen prince.

As the pyre is set ablaze, the Trojans mourn and honor Hector with songs and prayers. They recount his deeds on the battlefield and his bravery in defending Troy. The flames consume the body of Hector, sending his spirit on its journey to the afterlife.

After the funeral pyre has burned out, the Trojans gather the ashes and place them in a golden urn. The urn is then placed in a tomb, where Hector will rest for eternity.

The Significance of the Funeral Rites

The funeral rites of Hector hold great significance in the Iliad. They represent the mourning and collective grief of the Trojan people for the loss of their hero. The elaborate preparations and rituals highlight the importance of honoring the dead and paying tribute to their bravery and sacrifice.

Furthermore, the funeral rites of Hector serve as a reminder of the tragic consequences of war. The fall of Troy and the death of its greatest warrior symbolize the destruction and devastation caused by the conflict between the Greeks and the Trojans.

The Legacy of Hector

Hector’s death and the subsequent funeral rites solidify his legacy as a hero in the Iliad. Despite his ultimate defeat, his courage and loyalty to his family and city are remembered and revered by both the Trojans and the Greeks.

The funeral rites of Hector also foreshadow the eventual downfall of Achilles, as it is prophesied that his own death and funeral will mirror that of Hector. This parallel highlights the cyclical nature of war and the inevitability of death for even the greatest warriors.

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