The Iliad, Book XIV

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

The Deception of Zeus

When Nestor left his hut, he saw that the Greek defensive wall had been destroyed and the Greeks had turned in flight with the Trojans close on their heels. Diomedes, Odysseus and Agamemnon were returning from battle wounded and all four were very worried as the fighting was now beside their ships.

When Agamemnon suggested that Zeus must want their destruction and so they should retreat and launch the ships nearest to the sea, Odysseus accused him of cowardice, saying all the Greeks would lose heart if he did this. Agamemnon agreed and, at the suggestion of Diomedes, the leaders returned to the battlefield to ensure everyone who was able was fighting. Poseidon, disguised as an old man, encouraged Agamemnon by saying not all the gods were against the Greeks and victory would still be theirs and he rallied the Greek troops with a loud war cry.

Hera and Zeus on Mount Ida, painting by James Barry, 1773.

Hera, meanwhile, decided to distract Zeus by seducing him and sending him to sleep. After dressing herself with heavenly oils and beautiful clothes, she tricked Aphrodite into giving her a love potion which Zeus would be unable to resist and persuaded Hypnus to send Zeus to sleep after she had made love to him. She offered him as a bribe a beautiful chair made by Hephaestus and marriage to, Pasithee, one of the Graces. Hera told Zeus the same lie she had told Aphrodite, that she was on her way to bring together Oceanus and Tethys who were estranged. Zeus was overcome with desire for Hera and, after they had made love, he slept.

Immediately Hypnus told Poseidon to help the Greeks and give them the upper hand while Zeus slept. Poseidon rallied the Greeks and led the attack against the Trojans. After Hector failed to wound Ajax with his spear, he was himself hit to the ground by a rock thrown by Ajax and, protected by other Trojans, he left the fighting. Hector’s departure further encouraged the Greeks. More brave warriors were killed on both sides and the Greeks began to gain the upper hand.

Book XIII Book XV