In Book XVIII of the Iliad, after Patroclos's body has been recovered, there's this passage about the sun setting:

Then the Achaians were glad indeed to draw back the body of Patroclos out of the turmoil and lay it upon a bier. His companions trooped around it mourning; Achillês followed, weeping hot tears, when he saw his faithful friend stretched on the bier and torn with cruel wounds. He had sent him forth to the war with chariots and horses, hoping to welcome a safe return: but what a return was this!
The sun set unwearied, for Hera sent him unwilling down under the Ocean stream, and the Achaians at last had rest from their desperate struggles.
(translation by W.H.D. Rouse, 1938)

Why is the sun setting "unwearied" and "unwilling"? Why is Hera sending him down; I didn't think Hera was generally associated with the sun. What's going on here?

1 Answer 1


Hera isn't generally associated with the sun, but she put pressure on Helios, the sun god, to make sunset happen earlier than usual. The A.T. Murray translation makes it a bit more explicit:

Then was the unwearying sun sent by ox-eyed, queenly Hera to go his way, full loath, to the stream of Ocean. So the sun set and the goodly Achaeans stayed them from the fierce strife and the evil war.

An illustration by John Flaxman (found on Wikipedia) shows Hera making Helios (the sun) set earlier:

enter image description here

Hera sided with the Greeks in the war, so presumably she wanted the sun to set earlier in order to give the mourning Achilles and the Greek army some respite from battle in order to mourn Patrocles in peace. She could do that, not because she was generally associated with Helios or the sun, but just by dint of being a powerful goddess with a lot of clout in Olympus.

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