Summary Analysis The Achaeans, sensing defeat, are panicked and despondent. Diomedes rises up before the men and criticizes Agamemnon, telling him that he may sail if he wishes, but that he will stay and fight the Trojans. He says that Troy is fated to fall, and the men roar with assent. Nestor agrees with Diomedes, tells the soldiers to take their meal, and calls a meeting of the captains to devise a plan.
At an assembly of troops that night, even proud King Agamemnon bursts into tears. He says that the war is lost, and he suggests sailing home.
His dejected soldiers receive this speech in silence, but Diomedes leaps to his feet, reminding the king of his responsibilities and reminding the troops of their heroic heritage.
They can all return home, he says, but he, Diomedes, will remain alone, if necessary, to continue fighting, for it is fated that Troy will eventually fall. This brave declaration restores the confidence of the army and, on the recommendation of Nestor, guards are posted at the wall and the troops disperse to their tents for dinner and sleep.
At a meeting of the council, old Nestor takes the floor and reminds Agamemnon that the absence of Achilles is causing the present distress of the army.
The king admits that he was unwise to have insulted the great warrior. He decides to offer many valuable gifts, as well as the return of Briseis, if Achilles will rejoin the army. Emissaries are therefore sent to the tent of the sulking hero with this message.
Achilles welcomes Telamonian Aias Ajax and Odysseus with great honor, but he refuses to accept the terms offered by Agamemnon. Therefore, he will not join in the battle, and in the morning, he and his men will sail for home.
He is adamant in his decision.
Finally, Diomedes rises and tells the assembled warriors that it was an error to try to appeal to someone as conceited and headstrong as Achilles. He advises them to make whatever preparations are possible to defend the ships against the Trojans the next morning.
All agree, and after making libations to the gods, they retire to their quarters. Analysis More than one commentator has referred to Book IX as a short manual of oratory.
The Greeks considered oratory as a skill on the same level as fighting ability. The long, taunting battle speeches are an integral part of what a warrior should know. Phoenix reminds Achilles of how important oratorical skill is, and Odysseus is as highly regarded for his speaking as Achilles is for his fighting.
Odysseus, the great orator, makes the initial plea to Achilles. His speech follows the form of classical oratory, though in a shortened form. He begins by complimenting Achilles and attempting to make the great warrior receptive to the argument.
The classical rhetoricians called these opening remarks the exordium. Next, Odysseus explains the serious military situation of the Achaians to Achilles. This explanation of the situation was known as the narratio. Odysseus follows the narratio with the conformatio, or proof for his case.
Finally, Odysseus reaches his conclusion by returning to the patriotic argument. He tells Achilles that he can achieve personal honor and glory by saving the Achaians.
Achilles response is swift and at first does not seem well thought-out. This event is one of the major turning points in the story.
Nothing will satisfy Achilles now except the complete humbling of Agamemnon, an unreasonable and unwarranted demand. In fact, Achilles openly questions the validity of the entire heroic code of honor. Indeed, this is a defining moment for Achilles, as he is a man of great passion and is a true fighter.
The irony is inescapable. Some critics interpret this episode differently, however. The other speeches in Book IX also follow the patterns of Greek classical oratory. Odysseus presents the argument from reason.
Phoenix follows with the moral argument. Finally, Aias concludes with the emotional argument. Only Aias has any discernible effect on Achilles.
Hamlet says that his "madness" caused him to kill Polonius, thereby absolving himself of responsibility for his actions much the same way Agamemnon does. Glossary embassy a mission, especially one undertaken by an ambassador. A classical oratory consisted of prescribed sections: See the Analysis on Book IX for a discussion of these terms.
Phoenix tutor and friend of Achilles.Book IX: The Embassy to Achilles Right from the beginning of the chapter, Agamemnon and the Greeks were seen to be in almost the worst condition they could have been in, “But Panic, Fear’s sister, had wrapped her icy fingers around the Greeks, and their best were stricken with unendurable grief.
Achilles is right to refuse the embassy in Book IX because he keeps his honor as a man and a warrior intact. Agamemnon is a man of terrible character and he does not understand what honor is at all.
Sending others to do his dirty work is morally wrong. Book IX: The Embassy to Achilles: THUS did the Trojans watch.
But Panic, comrade of blood-stained Rout, had taken fast hold of the Achæans and their princes were all of them in despair. As when the two winds that blow from Thrace—the north and the northwest—spring up of a sudden and rouse the fury of the main—in a moment the dark waves.
The Iliad - Book 9 - The embassy to Achilles. Reading time: about 55 minutes; Read Powerpoints on Achilles in Books and The Homeric Gods. The purpose of Book the embassy to Achilles. Homer is faced with the difficulty of keeping Achilles before us, although Achilles has withdrawn.
Achilles is right to refuse the embassy in Book IX because he keeps his honor as a man and a warrior intact. Agamemnon is a man of terrible character and he does not understand what honor is at all. Sending others to do his dirty work is morally wrong.
Book IX. The Embassy to Achilles: The Argument This book, and the next following, take up the space of one night, which is the twenty-seventh from the beginning of the poem. The scene lies on the sea-shore, the station of the Grecian ships.
THUS Troy maintain’d the watch of night.