Iliad Summary and Analysis of Books 13-16

Book 13:


Satisfied, Zeus turns his attention elsewhere. Poseidon comes down to the battlefield and takes the form of Calchas the seer. Thus disguised, he encourages the two Aeantes (Great Ajax and Little Ajax, when they are named as a pair) and gives them new strength before he flies away. Little Ajax knows then that some god has spoken to them, and the Aeantes' spirits rise. Poseidon goes among the other troops, rousing their courage, and the Achaeans rally behind the two Aeantes and rush to face Hector and his troops. The two sides clash fiercely, and the Trojan advance is halted. Homer describes a number of fights between great warriors of both sides. Poseidon goes back to camp and takes the form of Thoas to encourage Idomenus to fight with new vigor. Idomenus, on his way back from aiding a wounded friend, returns to battle. Idomenus runs into Meriones, who is returning to his ship to get a new spear to replace the spear that he lost in battle. Idomenus tries to rouse Meriones' courage, and he offers him spears from his own shelter since it is closer than the encampment of Meriones. The two men decide to take position in defense of the ships on the left side of the battlefield, since the Aeantes hold the center.

Zeus continues to hand victory to the Trojans, while Poseidon, covertly, rallies the Achaeans. Idomenus kills some of the great warriors of the Trojan army, including Asius, the commander whose troops refused to dismount in Book 12. Notable encounters include an inconclusive clash between Idomenus and Aeneas. Homer describes numerous battles on the left side, and there the tide of war eventually turns in favor of the Achaeans, thanks to Poseidon, Idomenus, and Meriones. In the center, the Aeantes fight side-by-side, struggling to hold back the onslaught led by Hector. Little Ajax commands the Locrians, who are expert archers. The Locrians stand back from the front line and rain arrows on the Trojans, and between the arrows and the ferocity of the soldiers led by the Aeantes, it seems for a moment that the Trojans will have to retreat. Polydamas warns Hector of their situation. Although Hector is leading a fierce assault, elsewhere on the battlefield their troops are scattered. He tells Hector to consolidate their bravest so that they can decide their next move together. Hector does as Polydamas asks, but as he goes around the battlefield he finds that many of the Trojans' greatest warriors are dead or wounded. Still, he gathers the men who are left, including Paris, and this Trojan core battles on.


In the first part of this section, Poseidon and a number of Greek champions fight to keep the Achaean morale high. In danger of being routed by Hector, a few of the remaining great Achaean warriors struggle to rouse each other's spirits. Poseidon begins the process, inciting the Aeantes and Idomenus, and these heroes in turn find other men to incite to greater acts of valor. The struggle is not physical, but psychological, because the Achaeans will need their courage to stop Hector. The themes of pride and the struggle for glory are present throughout all of this morale-boosting, as heroes try to rally each other through a mixture of encouragement and mild insults designed to motivate a champion through his sense of honor.

Poseidon cannot openly defy Zeus, but he is crafty enough to deceive him. He cannot take part directly in the battle, but he can help to salvage the spirits of the hard-pressed Achaean forces. The beginning of Book 13 focuses almost completely on this goal of psychological salvage, and once Idomenus and Meriones move to the left part of the battlefield we can see that the payoff is high. Between Idomenus, Meriones, and the two Aeantes, they kill a huge number of Trojan champions. So many important Trojan warriors fall that Hector, when he searches for them, finds Paris and lashes out at him in despair. Rarely in the Iliad do the Trojans get an unqualified upper hand. They have moments of glory, but these moments are relatively brief incidents offset by long episodes in which Achaean champions smash through the Trojan forces. Still, Book 13 leaves the Achaeans in a dangerous position, as Hector remains strong and inches ever closer to the vulnerable Achaean ships.

Because Zeus has turned his gaze elsewhere, with Poseidon's aid the Achaeans are able to regroup and launch a stiff counterattack on the left side. In the center, we see Great Ajax acting as the perfect soldier, with Little Ajax fighting just as bravely. Though Great Ajax is called an inarticulate ox by Hector, when he makes his stand few can push past him. Although Great Ajax never seems to drive whole enemy armies backward the way Diomedes or Hector or Achilles can, when he fights defensively he is one of the Achaeans' greatest assets. In this book, Idomenus says that not even Achilles could force Great Ajax back in close combat, although overall Achilles is by far the greater warrior.

Book 14:


Nestor, resting back by the ships, hears the cries of battle and watches as the Trojans seem to gain the upper hand. He runs to fetch Agamemnon, who is recovering from his wounds. Homer describes the vulnerable positioning of the Achaean ships. The ships were so numerous that the shore was not wide enough to hold all of them, and the first of the ships had to be hauled up to the plain. (When not at sea for long periods, ancient Greek vessels were beached.) Agamemnon is fearful, feeling the burden of responsibility and worrying about the fate into which he has led his men. He suggests flight and return to Greece. Odysseus angrily scolds Agamemnon for his suggestion, and Diomedes suggests that the wounded champions return to the battlefield. They will not fight, but they will go out into battle and attempt to rally the troops. Poseidon takes the form of an old man and approaches Agamemnon, telling him that Troy will eventually fall. The god then lets out a divine roar, which reinvigorates Agamemnon's spirits.

Hera, watching from Olympus, looks with happiness on Poseidon and with hatred on Zeus. She devises a plan to seduce Zeus, luring him back from Ida so that he cannot help the Trojans. She dupes Aphrodite into helping her, saying that she needs a token to bring together two estranged lovers. Aphrodite gives her a band, worn between the breasts, that makes its wearer irresistible. Hera then goes to the god Sleep, asking him to put Zeus to sleep once Hera has lain with him. Sleep is afraid, because on one other occasion he put Zeus to sleep so that Hera could work mischief. On that day, Sleep only escaped because of the protection of Night, a goddess that even Zeus fears to anger. But Hera offers Sleep one of the Graces as a bride, and Sleep agrees to help her.

On Ida, Hera approaches Zeus, who is overcome by passion. The two deities sleep together, and Sleep goes to Poseidon to tell him that Zeus slumbers and can no longer stop him from helping the Greeks. Poseidon rushes to the battlefield, calling on the Argives to fight bravely. He tells the Achaeans to have the strong men to take the strongest armor, while weaker men bear the less powerful arms, and the soldiers, under the instructions of their chieftains, carry out Poseidon's orders. The two armies rush at each other. Telamonian Ajax strikes Hector with a mighty stone, and the Trojan heroes carry Hector from the front line. Bloody fighting continues, with warriors of both sides killing men and then vaunting over the bodies. With Hector wounded, the Achaeans gain the upper hand.


Once again, Agamemnon is paralyzed by the burden of leadership. He lays out a plan for retreat, even though the signs have said that within the year Troy must fall. He fears that an Achaean defeat would be his fault. As before, Diomedes, Odysseus, and Nestor support their king. Diomedes and Odysseus make sure that the king does not retreat, pushing him to take the path of greater honor and greater violence. For Homer, who accepts war as a fact of life and cherishes the virtues of a warrior, these actions make Diomedes and Odysseus strong subordinate officers. They push their king, who is momentarily weakened by his heavy burden, to stay with the course of a true warrior king. It is also important to realize that for Homer, Agamemnon's indecision is not necessarily ignoble. His impulse to preserve the lives of his men shows that he takes his responsibility seriously. But Homer also values the bloody resolve of Odysseus and Diomedes. Retreat would mean a loss of glory, and glory is a goal as precious as life. The value system exhibited by Diomedes and Odysseus matches the decision made by Achilles, and the theme of glory is an implicit part of these discussions about retreat. A Homeric hero usually chooses glory over life. The tragedians, who belonged to a later age, took these moments and came to different conclusions than those of Homer. For Sophocles and Euripides, Odysseus was not faithful and cunning officer but a devious and bloodthirsty manipulator. Modern audiences must reach their own conclusions, but any modern reader must take the values and cultural norms of Homer's time into consideration. From Homer's perspective, Odysseus and Diomedes do what good, brave officers should do. Poseidon himself validates their support for their king.

For the Greeks, the gods were personalities with human failings, but they were also expressions of forces of nature. The gods do not change, or question themselves. The power to reach new understanding is a human one. The unchanging gods are also unstoppable on their own terms; in this book, we see Zeus himself made helpless by the power of Aphrodite. Even Zeus is not immune to Aphrodite's power and Hera's cunning.

Although Hector is downed, his greatness as a warrior is not necessarily diminished here. Without Zeus helping him, he is still a great enough force for the Achaeans to need Poseidon's help in turning him back. By now, the reader should be familiar with certain patterns of the theme of interaction between human free will and the will of the gods. No great shift occurs in the Trojan War without some kind of divine involvement. Almost every attack and counterattack has both a human agent and some element of divine interference.

Book 15:


As the Achaeans drive the Trojans back behind the fortifications once again, Zeus wakes up and looks down on the battlefield with anger. He blames Hera, who responds that Poseidon helps the Achaeans of his own free will. Appeased, Zeus tells her his plan. Hector will reach the Achaean ships, and Patroclus will come out and fight. Patroclus will kill many great Trojans, including Sarpedon, Zeus's own son, but in the end Hector will kill Patroclus. Achilles will finally rejoin the battle to avenge his beloved companion. Zeus sends Hera to Olympus to summon Iris and Apollo. Hera obeys, and back on Olympus a furious Ares prepares to go down to the battle to avenge his son Ascalaphus. Athena persuades him to stay, afraid that if Ares angers Zeus the king of the gods will vent his rage on all of the Olympians, innocent and guilty alike. Hera, as instructed, tells Apollo and Iris to go to Ida and receive Zeus's orders.

On Ida, Zeus tells Iris to order Poseidon to leave the battlefield or face the consequences. When she goes and repeats Zeus's command, Poseidon leaves reluctantly and in anger. He sees himself as equal in stature to Zeus, as Zeus's brother and ruler of the seas, and he resents Zeus issuing commands to him as if he were one of Zeus's children. Iris speaks to Poseidon diplomatically, and he gives in, but not before promising that if Troy is spared the anger between him and his brother will not be healed.

Zeus tells Apollo to go down to the battlefield and aid the Trojans. In particular, he is to give Hector great strength so that Hector might win glory. Apollo goes down and takes his place by Hector's side, telling him that Zeus has sent Apollo to help Hector beat back the Achaeans. He reinvigorates Hector, who returns to combat. The sight of Hector restored and returned to battle terrifies the Achaeans. Thoas, the greatest warrior of the Aetolian contingent, recognizes that some god must be aiding Hector. He suggests that the bulk of the Achaean forces return to defend the ships, while the very greatest warriors stay to try and hold back Hector.

But the Trojans rout the Achaeans, cutting down Achaean warriors left and right. Apollo fills in part of the defensive ditch so that the Trojans can ride across, and then the god breaks down part of the rampart. (Homer uses a memorable simile likening Apollo to a child who kicks down the walls of a sandcastle.) Nestor prays to Zeus to spare the Achaeans, and the god hears the prayer and answers with a thunderbolt. However, the Trojans see the thunderbolt and take it as a sign to fight more fiercely.

Patroclus, who all this time has been tending to the wounds of Eurypylus, sees the rout and decides that he must return to Achilles immediately. The Trojans push their way back to the ships, and a particularly fierce fight develops between Hector and Telamonian Ajax. The two heroes fight over a single ship, neither man able to gain ground against the other. Ajax kills Hector's cousin Caletor, and Hector calls on his men to protect the body and strikes down Lycophron, one of Ajax's dearest friends. Ajax calls on Teucer to strike down Hector with arrows, but when Teucer tries to do so Zeus snaps his bowstring. Hector shouts out, telling the Trojans what has happened, correctly interpreting the snapped bowstring as a sign that now Zeus favors Troy. He calls out to his men to fight for their homes, their wives and children. All good Trojan soldiers need to be willing to die for their country. Ajax, in turn, calls out to the Achaeans to defend their ships at all costs. If Hector destroys the ships and the encampments, the Achaeans will not survive. The Achaeans withdraw back behind the first line of beached ships, and Nestor desperately supplicates them, on behalf of their loved ones at home, to stand and fight for their lives. Ajax leaps from ship deck to ship deck, beating back Trojans with a massive pike. The Achaeans surge forward and try to hold the line. Hector reaches a ship and calls for fire. Even Ajax must shift his position and retreat slightly, but for now no Trojan is able to set fire to a ship.


With Zeus returned to the action, nothing can stop Hector. Note also that Zeus never personally descends to the battlefield. He is too majestic to deal personally with human affairs; other, less powerful gods put on arms and go to the battlefield to fight, but Zeus always controls events from afar. He is by far the most powerful of the gods. Athena persuades Ares to keep from the battle lest Zeus punish them all, and even Hera says that those who oppose Zeus are fools. Poseidon, who feels he should be Zeus's equal in status, nevertheless has to give way to him.

The theme of glory runs through Zeus's plans for Hector. Although Troy is doomed, Zeus bestows great favor on Hector. Zeus will give Hector glory because Hector's life is to be short. Like Achilles, he will have glory instead of long life.

Although the Achaeans are fighting a war of aggression, Homer shifts the terms of the conflict in this chapter. Instead of focusing on the war as a conquering expedition led by Agamemnon and Menelaus (notably, they are almost completely absent from Book 15), here he deals with the war from the perspective of the troops who follow orders and are here fighting for their lives. Although the Trojans fight for the lives of their families as well as themselves, Hector's determination to burn the ships turns the war into a question of survival for both sides. Nestor's desperate plea to the Achaeans asks them to think of their loved ones back home. He begs the troops to fight on and survive, so as to spare their families grief. Homer makes us feel the desperation that makes both sides fight so ferociously. Glory and life are both at stake, and Homer gives much attention here to the valiant defensive fighting of Telamonian Ajax. Never one to drive whole armies back, as Achilles and Hector do, he is still strong enough to hold his place against the fiercest of men. With the other Achaean champions wounded, Ajax is the one who must now call out and rally the troops, as well as inspire them with his action. He leaps between the decks of the beached ships, using a massive pike to hold back the Trojan forces almost single-handedly. This description of Ajax's incredible defense makes for one of the Iliad's most memorable images.

Book 16:


Patroclus approaches Achilles, weeping. He tells Achilles of the dire situation facing the Achaeans, and begs him to help. If Achilles will not return to the fighting, Patroclus asks that he at least give Patroclus his armor. The Trojans will think Achilles has returned to battle, and Patroclus will drive them back. Achilles finally consents, but he warns his friend to return to Achilles once he has driven the Trojans back from the ships. Achilles fears that if Patroclus fights on afterward, he might be lost.

Meanwhile, Ajax faces the Trojan onslaught. Hector breaks Ajax's mighty spear, and, exhausted and forced back by a rain of arrows and spears, Ajax finally retreats. The Trojans set fire to one of the ships. Seeing the danger, Achilles urges Patroclus to hurry. Patroclus arms himself with Achilles' weapons and armor, leaving behind Achilles' favorite spear. The spear was a gift from the centaur Chiron, and none of the Achaeans except for Achilles is mighty enough to use it. Automedon, friend of Achilles and Patroclus, yokes Achilles' horses. Two of the horses are immortal, born of a divine horse deity and the West Wind. Achilles goes to rally his own troops, the Myrmidons, who had withdrawn from the fighting at his command. He orders them back into battle, and they go gladly. Achilles then uses a sacred cup to make a wine offering to Zeus. He asks the king of the gods to grant two prayers: first, that Patroclus should drive the Trojans back from the vessels, and second, that Patroclus should return to Achilles unwounded. Homer tells us that Zeus will grant one prayer and deny the other.

The Myrmidons charge into battle. Patroclus, dressed in Achilles' armor, makes the Trojans think initially that Achilles himself has returned to fight, and they fear for their lives. The Achaeans drive the Trojans back. The Achaean heroes, especially Patroclus, fight ferociously and kill many of the enemy's best warriors. Many Trojans die trying to cross back over the Achaean fortifications. Rather than let the Trojans retreat safely back behind the walls of Troy, Patroclus rushes ahead and cuts them off. He kills man after man, culminating in an exciting duel between Patroclus and Sarpedon. The two men leap down from their chariots to fight each other on foot, and Zeus looks on in indecision. Sarpedon is Zeus's son, and the man's destiny is to die at Patroclus' hands, but Zeus has the chance now to save him. He asks Hera what he should do. Hera scolds the king of the gods, telling him that if he brings Sarpedon to safety, none of the gods will respect him. Her arguments persuade Zeus, but he weeps tears of blood in pity for Sarpedon, his beloved son.

Patroclus misses with his spear and kills Thrasymelus, Sarpedon's henchman, and Sarpedon in turn kills the one horse of Achilles that is mortal. The chariot is about to go out of control, but Automedon salvages the situation by cutting the dead horse from the vehicle. Patroclus defeats Sarpedon, and as Sarpedon dies he calls out for Glaucos to prevent the Achaeans from stripping away his armor as a trophy. Glaucos wants revenge, but he is too wounded to face Patroclus, and he asks Apollo for help. Infused with new strength by the god, he rallies the Lycians to defend Sarpedon's body. He then goes to Hector and scolds him for not concerning himself with the fate of his allies. Grieving, Hector leads the Trojans in a charge to avenge Sarpedon. Amidst the fighting, Aeneas and Meriones exchange insults. Patroclus scolds Meriones, telling him that men win wars by action rather than words. Brutal fighting develops around Sarpedon's body, good men on both sides killing and being killed. The Trojans get the worst of the fighting, and they are driven back through the Scaean Gates. The Achaeans finally succeed in taking Sarpedon's armor, but then Zeus orders Apollo to take the body and prepare it for burial in Lycia. Patroclus rages on, killing more of the Trojans' best. It seems that the Achaeans might succeed in storming the walls of Troy, but Apollo beats Patroclus back and warns him that it is not his fate to storm the city.

Apollo takes human shape and goads Hector into attacking Patroclus. When Hector rides forward, Patroclus kills Hector's charioteer, Cebriones, and then the two men fight over the body. The Achaeans finally win this small battle, successfully stripping the body. Patroclus charges against the Trojans again and again. With each new assault, he strikes down more of their champions, until finally, Apollo strikes him. The god robs Patroclus of his senses, strips away his armor, and shatters his spear. Seeing his sudden vulnerability, the Trojan warrior Euphorbus hits him from behind with a javelin, but does not kill him. As the wounded Patroclus tries to withdraw back behind the Achaean line, Hector runs him through with a spear. Hector glories over his victory, heaping verbal abuse on Patroclus. Dying, Patroclus responds that Hector has only won because of a god's help. Furthermore, Patroclus promises that Hector does not have long to live. Achilles will return to battle to avenge his beloved companion. Hector does not take the words to heart, and he glories over Patroclus' corpse. He moves to strike down Automedon in an attempt to take Achilles' magnificent chariot.


Though he only participates in the war for a brief moment, Patroclus and his death are of pivotal importance. Certainly he is one of the noblest characters we have seen, and he is less tainted by pride; his compassion has been established earlier, when he puts aside his embassy to Achilles to tend to the wounds of a friend. We see his compassion again in the beginning of this book, when a weeping Patroclus begs Achilles to do something to help their dying friends. He accuses Achilles of being neither human nor divine, but something heartless and impersonal as the sea and the rocks. Patroclus' compassion provides contrast to Achilles' incredible pride.

Patroclus is compassionate, but his compassion does not detract from his skills as a warrior; Zeus's later description of Patroclus as "strong and gentle" is appropriate, as the man is both compassionate and ferocious. One of his distinctions is that we sense little divine interference in his attack against the Trojans. Unlike Hector and Diomedes, Patroclus has no god standing by his side when he drives back the enemy's troops. Patroclus slaughters man after man, killing even the great Sarpedon, son of Zeus. No one he meets is able to beat him on equal terms. Patroclus is also less tainted by the boastfulness seen in many of the Homeric heroes. When Aeneas and Meriones trade insults, Patroclus scolds his companion. He has no interest in boasting about great deeds. For him, actions are the path to victory. Boastful words are a waste of time.

His compassion provides contrast to Achilles' pride, and his eschewal of boastful words provides contrast to Hector's tendency to brag. When Hector kills Patroclus, Patroclus has been stunned, stripped, and disarmed by a god. He has also been wounded by Euphorbus. Hector kills a naked, unarmed, and wounded man, and then boasts as if he had bested Patroclus in fair combat. Apollo persuades Hector to charge at Patroclus by promising that killing Patroclus will bring great glory. The themes of glory and pride come together. In his pride and his desire to win glory, Hector defeats a grave threat to his people, but he also dooms himself by killing Achilles' companion.

Are Achilles and Patroclus lovers? Although we know little about Homeric attitudes toward sexual relationships between men, sex between men was an accepted part of life for later Greeks. By the time of Athen's golden age, it was a widely held belief that Achilles and Patroclus were lovers: debate did not center on whether or not they were lovers, but on which man was the active sexual partner and which man played the passive role. During the time of Alexander the Great, the conception of Patroclus' and Achilles' relationship as sexual was imbued with new resonance due to the relationship between Alexander and his lifelong companion, the nobleman Hephaistion. For the Greeks, Homer's characters had a life outside of the epic poem. They were part of legend, religion, and history. So beliefs outside of Homer's text had an affect on how Greeks read the poem; it was easy to read the bond between Achilles and Patroclus as one of lifelong companionship, with sexual love as a central part of the relationship.

But within the confines of the poem itself, Homer give little explicit indication that the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus is primarily a relationship between lovers. They are never seen sleeping together, and when verbally expressing their love for each other they do not use exclusively sexual terms. When we see them going to sleep at the end of Book 9, they both are taking women to bed with them. But that scene does not in itself preclude the possibility of sexual relations between the two men: all Greek men, even when they had their most fulfilling sexual relationships with other men, took women as consorts and wives. Marriage was a social necessity; wives provided children, and continuing the family line was an obligation. Even putting the need for marriage aside, the Greeks encouraged a degree of sexual malleability. The modern construction of homosexuality, which takes sexual orientation as an integral part of identity, would have been alien to the Greeks. This does not mean that the Greeks saw sexual orientation as pure choice. In Plato's Symposium, a speaker narrates a myth explaining why some people prefer members of the same sex, others prefer members of the opposite sex, and still others sexually enjoy people of both sexes. It might be said that for the Greeks there was no concept of homosexuality, but it is important to remember that they also lacked any modern conception of heterosexuality and bisexuality. They understood sexual orientation as a preference, even a preference that was innate and part of nature, but they did not see these preferences as being an important marker of identity. No significant lifestyle difference was discerned between men who loved men, men who loved women, and men who loved both.

Because of these different attitudes, sexual contact between men was far more common. Although Homer does not depict Achilles' and Patroclus' relationship primarily as a sexual one, for the Greeks some element of sexual contact was common, almost expected, between close companions during wartime. And, at the very least, we need to understand the relationship of Achilles and Patroclus as special, even among the strong friendships between men in the Iliad. Many warriors fall in the course of the Iliad, and many of those warriors have friends, but no death causes any man the rage and grief that Achilles feels when he receives the news of Patroclus' death. When sending Patroclus off to battle, Achilles makes the shocking statement that he would be happy if all of the soldiers on both sides died except for Achilles and Patroclus, so that they could conquer the city alone together. While some commentators see this appalling statement as indicating only that Achilles sees Patroclus as an extension of his own glory, others, including some ancient Greek commentators, read Achilles' words as suggesting that Achilles and Patroclus are lovers. There is also the parallelism set up by the Meleager story told by Phoenix back in Book 9. Meleager, like Achilles, withdraws from battle despite the threat to his friends. He stays with his dearest companion, his wife, just as Achilles withdraws to his encampment with Patroclus. He remains in his home with his beloved wife, but he returns from battle because of the threat to her safety. Here, in Book 16, Achilles' story becomes a new version of Meleager's story, just as Phoenix warned it would. For both warriors, the return to battle is motivated by their feelings for the person that they love most in the world. But unlike Meleager, who saves his wife, Achilles does not act soon enough to save his beloved companion.

The death of Sarpedon is another important episode in this book, because it reveals an important element of the Homeric view of fate. The theme of the interaction between fate and free will is taken and developed further when Zeus himself cannot save his son. At times, events proceed by the will of the gods, but here we see that sometimes the gods themselves are subjected to the whims of fate. Zeus has the power to save his own son, but in doing so he would bring chaos. The law has nothing to do with interference per se: after all, Aphrodite and Apollo were allowed earlier to save Aeneas. The rescue of Aeneas and the death of Sarpedon show that the gods save men only when rescue is in line with the dictates of destiny. Although he has the ability to save Sarpedon, Hera warns that none of the gods will respect him if he does. Sarpedon's death is destined, and the source of that destiny remains faceless and unclear. None of the Olympians wills Sarpedon's death, but, whatever the source, even Zeus stands aside and lets fate take its course. Previously, Sarpedon's death was predicted by Zeus in prophecy, which suggests that at least part of the time Zeus's prophecies report fate rather than shape it.

Fate and prophecy also play an important aesthetic role in the Iliad. At key points, we hear prophecies of what is to come, such as the scene in Book 15 where Zeus tells Hera that Achilles will return to battle only after Patroclus fights and is killed by Hector. In a similar way, Patroclus' promise that Achilles will kill Hector whets our appetite for the climactic battle between the Trojan War's two greatest champions. These prophecies prepare the audience for upcoming exciting events. In a long performance, especially one narrated in installments, prophecies are teasers for exciting events to come.