HOMER: The Iliad [Book V]

In Book V of Homer’s Iliad, the Grecian hero Diomedes enters the battle. He is wounded by an arrow, but Minerva heals Diomedes and grants him the power to discern between the mortals and the gods on the battlefield. With his new sight, Diomedes begins to attack the Trojans Pandarus and Aeneas. Diomedes kills Pandarus and then turns his attention to Aeneas.

The goddess Venus is the mother of Aeneas. When she sees her son facing off with Diomedes and in great danger of being killed, she rushes to his aid. She tries to carry him away from the battlefield, but Diomedes attacks and wounds her hand. Fortunately for Aeneas, the god Apollo arrives on the scene and carries Aeneas safely to the temple of Pergamus, where he takes refuge from the battle.

Back on the battlefield, the god Mars assists the Trojan prince Hector and begins to turn the tide of the battle. Diomedes, however, throws a spear into Mars’ stomach, sending him flying back to Mt. Olympus in agony.

Diomedes is an impressive character. He attacks and wounds not one, but two gods. The idea that a man can vie with and even defeat a god is indicative of the Ancient Greek’s confidence in the power of man. This attitude is vastly different from the self-abasing and slavish mind set of many modern theists.

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