Duel in Iliad

Duel in Iliad

There happen two duels in Iliad that are between Paris and Menelaus & Hector and Ajax causing a huge effect on the war. Both of the duels are taken place to minimize the deaths and destruction of the war. The duels are significant as they represent pivotal moment in the Trojan war.


In The Iliad, Paris proposes single combat with Menelaus to end the war. This is the first duel in the story. Hector announces the whole plan and both sides agree that whoever wins the duel, he will take Helen. Actually, Paris decides to participate in that combat to demonstrate to the people that he is not a coward. However, the first attack comes from the Trojan prince Paris by hurling his long shadowed spear but it does not work. Then Menelaus attacks him with his spear. Menelaus just wants to castigate Paris for his previous betrayal and wickedness. He prays to Zeus so that he may grant him the power and glory. It is actually not too difficult for Menelaus because he is a far better warrior and more powerful than Paris. Hurling himself towards Paris, Menelaus seized Paris by the horse-hair crest and then turning Paris down, Menelaus begins to drag him into the Greek lines. Paris is choked by the pressure on his tender throat of the embroidered helmet strap which he ties tightly under his chin. Menelaus will have hauled him off and wins unutterable glory and the war will have been over. But the trickery of the goddess Aphrodite has turned the story in the opposite line. She comes down to save Paris and breaks that strap made of leather and the Helmet comes away empty in Menelaus’s hand. Then Aphrodite hides Paris in a dense mist and takes him away in his own fragmented bedroom near Helen. Thus the first duel ends and Agamemnon declares Menelaus as the winner. Actually in this fight, justice has not been ensured and Paris is proved literally as a coward.


A formidable fight was held between Olympian born Ajax, son of Telamon and the Trojan prince Hector. This duel is planned by Athena and Apollo to stop the war for the day. Hector takes the first attempt to attack by hurling his long shadowed spear. He attacks at the sevenfold shield of Ajax, on its metal, on the eighth and outermost layer. The bronze tears through six layers but is held up by the seventh fold. In response to it, Ajax hurls his spear that hits Hector’s shield and fortunately, Hector avoids the dark death. Then the two warriors, out of their ferocity, fall on each other like flesh eating lions and or wild boars. Hector again throws his spear at the centre of Ajax’s shield but in vain. Then Ajax stabs at Hector’s shield and it hurts Hector in his neck as the blood comes out from his body. In this way, Ajax is portrayed as slightly more heroic than the other. But Hector does not give up and threw a stone at Ajax and in response to this, Ajax picks up a huger rock and throws it at Hector. This time Hector is saved by Archer god Apollo. At this point, when they are thinking about going with the sword, Idaeus comes there and tells them to stop it. Both of them then agree to finish the duel. However, they exchanged gifts with each other. Hector gives his opponent his sword and Ajax gives Hector his belt as a sign of mutual respect.

Duel in Iliad is a comparative reading. For more analysis read other posts published on the website.

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