The Iliad, Book 5: Diomedes Fights the Gods
In the closing days of the Trojan War, all the attempts at peace having failed and disintegrated into war, one man catches the eyes and ears of the bright-eyed goddess, Athena. Leaning against his chariot, Diomedes calls upon Athena to allow him to gain vengeance against the Trojan archer, Pandarus. Not only does she renew his fighting strength, but also she lets fall from his eyes the mist obscuring the gods so he can then differentiate between them and the other mortal combatants. Despite this, she instructs him to not attempt a head on fight with the immortals, but rather to engage only other men. The one exception to this rule is Aphrodite, whom Diomedes is encouraged to engage with vigour. This seems to illustrate one of the recurring characteristics of the Epic genre: a lifting up of the focus to things beyond the realms of mere mortality. By practically telling her champion to attack Love, Athena gives not only Diomedes, but also the reader themselves a blood rush that can only come from a challenge so much greater than simple combat. He must fight a goddess!
Like a warm knife through butter, Diomedes cuts through the Trojan lines, accumulating for himself immense glory from his comrades and gaining the fear of his foes. His brief story of revenge draws to a prompt close as his spear silences Pandarus' jeers in death, cutting out his tongue at the roots and leaving him speechless. When Pandarus falls, his comrade Aeneas steps into the melee to protect the former's body, narrowly escaping his own destruction when his mother, Aphrodite whisks him out of the battle following a near fatal wound from the Argive, whose rampage now places him face to face with Love herself. Aphrodite is pierced in the wrist by Diomedes' spear and all in a moment the perceived perfection of the gods drips away in the ichor flowing from the pale skin of the most beautiful of immortals. It is characteristic of Greek and Roman epic...
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