Summary of the Iliad Book 6




Summary of the Iliad Book 6


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Summary of the Iliad Book 6


Summary of the Iliad Book 6:


Battle continues:


  • Greeks V Trojans. Battle sways back and forth.
  • Aias (Greek) killed many Trojans.
  • Diomedes (Greek) killed Axylos.


The death of Adrestos:


  • Menelaos took Adrestos (Trojan) alive and Adrestos pleaded for his life. He said that his father would give Menelaos unlimited ransom if he spared his life.
  • Menelaos pitied him but Agamemnon came running towards him and told him not to spare Adrestos’s life:
  • “Menelaos dear brother why this concern for mens’ lives?” He told him not to spare any Trojan life even a Trojan life in its mother’s womb but to extinguish the whole Trojan race.
  • Menelaos listened to Agamemnon’s advice and pushed Adrestos away from him and Agamemnon stabbed him.


Nestor’s advice to the Greeks:


  • Nestor = King of Pylos in Greece.
  • Do not hold back in battle for spoils (prizes) but continue to kill men.
  • He tells them that they can collect the spoils after the battle.


Helenos’s advise to Aineias and Hektor:


  • Helenos = Trojan prince, brother of Hektor and Paris. He is a prophet.
  • His advice is as follows:
  • Make a stand and rally (gather) the troops.
  • He tells Hektor to go back to the city and to tell his mother to:
  • (a) gather the women of Troy and tell them go to the temple of Athene
  • (b) and place a robe at Athenes’ knees
  • (c) sacrifice 12 heifers in her temple.
  • (d) ask Athene to take pity on the Trojans’ wives and their children by  

            holding back Diomedes, son of Tydeus, from Ilios (Troy).

  • Helenos says that he thinks Hektor is the greatest Trojan warrior.
  • Note: Hektor followed all of Helenos’ instructions and when he told his mother to do these things (points a – d) she followed his instructions and did them.


Glaukos V Diomedes:


  • Glaukos = a Lycian (Lycians = allies of the Trojans in the war), son of Hippolochus, and his grandfather is Bellerophrontes.
  • Diomedes = best Greek warrior after Achilleus, son of Tydeus, and his grandfather is Oineus.


  • During the battle Diomedes spoke to Glaukos saying that he looks like a God.
  • He says that he does not wish to fight a God:
  • “I would not want either to fight with the blessed gods. But if you are a mortal of those who eat the crop of plough and field, come closer now to meet your doomed end sooner.”


  • Diomedes gives the example of Lykourgos:
  • Crime = chased the nurses of Dionysus away.
  • Punishment = Zeus blinded him.


  • Glaukos explains that he is mortal and gives the history of his family:
  • He tells the story of how his grandfather Bellerophrontes escaped death by performing tasks for the King of Lycia.
  • Diomedes realises that his grandfather Oinues and Glaukos’s grandfather Bellerophrontes have a guest friendship:
  • “Well then you are a guest – friend of mine from far back in both our families.”
  • Note: Zeus = god of hospitality (xenos). According to these laws people must welcome strangers into their homes and entertain them. After this the host and the guest have established a guest friendship between themselves and their families.
  • Diomedes and Glaukos stop fighting once they realise this and exchange armour.
  • Glaukos exchanged his gold armour for Diomedes’s bronze armour and a hundred oxen’s worth for nine oxen.
  • Note: Diomedes does better out of this exchange as Zeus robbed Glaukos’ of his wits.It is an unequal exchange of armour.


Hektor returns to Troy:

  • Hektor returned to Troy and was greeted by the wives and daughters of the Trojans. He went to the house of Priam (King of Troy).
  • Hekabe (Queen of Troy) and Laodike (princess of Troy) met Hektor.
  • Hekabe asks Hektor why he left the battle.
  • She then offered him wine.


Hektor refused to drink the wine that Hekabe offered him for two reasons:

  • 1. His strength would be sapped and he would lose his courage for the fight.
  • 2. He has blood on his hands so it would be disrespectful to the Gods.
  • Hektor is very pious.
  • Hektor tells his mother to go the temple of Athene and that he will go and talk to Paris (Alexandros).
  • Hektor expresses his anger with Paris and says that Paris is a curse to the Trojans and that he wishes he would die.


Theano’s prayer to Athene:

  • Theano = Trojan priestess of Athene.
  • Hekabe and the women of Troy go the temple of Athene (as instructed to do so by Hektor).
  • Theano opens the door for them.
  • She took the robe and placed it on Athene’s knees.
  • She prayed to Athene to hold back Diomedes in the battle.
  • Pallas Athene shook her head in refusal (because of the Judgement of Paris – when Trojan Paris chose Aphrodite as the most beautiful goddess instead of Athene – she favours the Greeks).


Encounter between Hektor and Paris:

  • Hektor went to Paris’s house and found Paris in the bedroom “fussing over his exquisite armour, the shield and the corselet, and handling his curved bow”.
  • Helen was beside Paris supervising her maids.
  • Hektor gives out to Paris for letting his people die by hanging back in battle.
  • Paris agrees with Hektor’s charge.
  • He said the reason why he stayed in his room was to give way to his distress. He is not angry or resentful of the Trojans.
  • Note: Paris is a coward compared to Hektor. As far as Hektor is concerned he started the Trojan War by taking Helen of Sparta (it was the Gods who really started the war) yet he is being a coward by not fighting in the war.


Helen’s speech:

  • She is critical of herself and wishes that she had never been born and that she had a better husband than Paris.
  • She feels guilty and ashamed for her part in the Trojan War.
  • She says that both her and Hektor are doomed:
  • “On us two Zeus has set a doom of misery, so that in time to come we can be themes of song for men of future generations.”
  • Helen asks Hektor to sit down but he refuses as he is eager to return to battle.


Hektor returned to his house:

  • Andromache (Hektor’s wife) was not at home. She was standing at the tower of Ilios (Troy) crying. She went there as she heard that the Trojans were failing and that the Achaians were winning a great victory.
  • Hektor went towards the tower of Ilios and his wife Andromache ran towards him.
  • Skamandrios = Hektor’s name for his son Astyanax. Other Trojans call him Astyanax – lord of the city.
  • Andromache begged Hektor to stop fighting.


Andromache’s story:

  • Daughter of Eetion. She is from Thebe.
  • All of her family are dead.
  • Achilles killed her father and 7 of her brothers all in the same day.
  • He treated Eetion with respect as he was the King. He did not strip his armour as he respected him but burnt him with his armour on.
  • Note: In book 24 we see that he also treats his enemy Priam respectfully when Priam comes and asks for the body of his son Hektor back.
  • Achilleus brought Andromache's mother with him as a slave but he released her for a countless ransom and she died in her father’s house.
  • Hektor is the only family that she now has left:
  • “But Hektor you are father and honoured mother and brother to me, as well as my strong husband. Please feel pity for us, stay here on the battlement, so you do not make an orphan of your child and your wife a widow”.
  • Hektor told Andromache that he couldn’t stay as he would feel ashamed and like a coward.
  • He says he feels the most pain for Andromache as he fears that she will be forced to become a slave if Troy is taken by the Greeks. She will have to carry out another woman’s command and carry water for them.
  • Note: Andromache does become a slave after the war. She becomes Achilleus’s son Neoptolemus’s (Pyrrhus’s) slave. She also bore him a son.
  • Hektor reached out to hold his son but Astyanax was terrified by his helmet with horse hair and started to cry.
  • Hektor and Andromache laughed about this.
  • Hektor removed his helmet and kissed his son and prayed to Zeus and the other gods that his son would become pre-eminent among the Trojans and as strong and as brave as Hektor.


Role of women:


  • Hektor told Andromache to return to her house and carry out her duties:
  • “No, go back to the house and set to your own work, the loom and the distaff and tell your maids to set about their task. War will be the mens’ concern, all the men whose homeland is Ilios (Troy) and mine above all.”
  • Note: This tells us about the role of women in Troy. Their role is domestic. They must look after the household work, the loom and distaff, and set their maids work. When Hektor visits Helen she was:
  •  “sitting there among her servant – women and supervising her maids’ magnificent handcraft.”
  • Their duty was also to pray. Example – Hekabe and the Trojan women were sent to the temple of Athene to pray. Also in this book Andromache has a servant to look after Skamandrios.
  • Note: All of the above points describe the life of rich women of the royal family.
  • Andromache and the maid servants in his home mourned Hektor even though he was still alive because they thought that he would be killed soon.
  • Note: Mourning was another important role that women had.
  • Summary = domestic role – spinning/weaving/supervising maids/praying/mourning.


Paris rejoins the fighting:

  • Paris no longer dallied in his house but rejoined the war.
  • Simile – Like a horse that has stopped for food and then gallops Paris came running down from the height of Pergamos, bright in his armour like the beaming sun, and laughing as he came, his quick legs carrying him on.
  • He realised that he must have delayed Hektor:
  • “Brother, you are in a hurry, and I am sure I must have delayed you with my dawdling and not coming on time as you told me”.
  • Hektor replies:
  • “Strange man! No – one in fairness could belittle your success in battle, as you are a brave fighter. But you deliberately hang back and refuse to fight: and my heart within me is pained at that, when I hear shaming things said of you by the Trojans, who have much hardship to endure on your account.” 

Character of Hektor:

  • He is both a family man and a brave warrior.
  • He is the sole protection of Troy and the leader of the Trojan forces.
  • According to Helen it is his mind that the war besets (he is responsible and carries the burden for the war).
  • He is loyal to Paris even though he wishes that he would die as he is frustrated that Paris is responsible for the Trojan War. He is also kind towards Helen.
  • He is very concerned for his wife and son. He visits them during the war.
  • He is also concerned for their welfare and what will become of them after the war. He fears that Andromache will become a slave.
  • He is pious to the Gods. He will not drink the wine that his mother offers him as it is an offering to the Gods and he has blood on his hands as thinks that it would be disrespectful to the Gods if he were to drink it.
  • He is also sensible and dedicated to the battle as he does not drink the wine as it will sap his strength.
  • Helenos says that Hektor is Troy’s best warrior. The Greeks also fear him. After they kill him they also kill his son Astyanax (they threw him off the walls of Troy) as they fear that he will grow up to be as strong a warrior as Hektor and they can not risk this happening.
  • Unlike Paris he is a brave warrior. Andromache asks him to stay yet he will not as he must go and fight for his country. Paris, by contrast, is cowardly and hangs back in the fighting and this upsets Hektor.


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Summary of the Iliad Book 6