The Iliad, Book XII

Overview
Book I Book II Book III Book IV Book V Book VI Book VII
Book VIII Book IX Book X Book XI Book XII Book XIII Book XIV Book XV 
Book XVI Book XVII Book XVIII Book XIX Book XX Book XXI Book XXII
Book XXIII Book XXIV

The Trojans Attack the Greek Camp

When fighting resumed it became apparent that the ditch defending the Greek camp would not hold out for much longer, and this turned out to be the case because the Greeks, when building it, had not secured the good will of the gods with their offerings. After the war, Poseidon and Apollo destroyed it by flooding and Zeus sent heavy rain.

Map of thr Trojan Plain.

Meanwhile Trojan charioteers tried to cross it, but in vain. Polydamas therefore suggested they cross it on foot to attack. Hector agreed and the Trojans divided into five contingents, all on foot except Asius who attacked in his chariot, finding a gate in the wall which had not been closed. He was confronted by two Lapiths, Polypoetes and Leonteus, and was held back. As the Trojans were attacking, Zeus sent an omen: an eagle flying from right to left carrying a blood-red snake which it released when the snake bit it and it flew away.

Polydamas interpreted this as meaning that they should retreat or many Trojans would be killed. Hector refused his advice, saying he put his trust in Zeus, that they should be fighting to defend their country and, if Polydamas did not fight, he would kill him. Hector then led the attack against the ditch, aided by a hurricane from Zeus, while the two Ajaxes inspired the Greeks and rocks were thrown on both sides. Only Sarpedon could make an impact on the wall’s defences: he and Glaucus led the Lycians while Mnestheus, who was defending that section, sent for help from the two Ajaxes; Ajax, son of Telamon, came to help bringing Teucer with him; Glaucus was wounded by Teucer and Sarpedon, once he had begun to broach the defences, was wounded by an arrow from Teucer and a spear thrust from Ajax but was saved from death by his father, Zeus.

Greek ships on the beach from the film Troy.

However, the Lycians could not break down the wall as the Greeks defended it bravely. There were casualties on both sides and the battle equally poised until Zeus gave the Trojans the upper hand when Hector broke down one of the gates after throwing a huge rock at it. The Greeks fled to their ships as the Trojans swarmed over the wall or through the gate.

Book XI Book XIII