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Statue of Diomedes. Roman copy after a Greek original from ca. 440-430 BC, attributed to Kresilas. H. 1.02 m (3 ft. 4 in.). Glyptothek of Munich

Diomêdês is mostly known for his participation in the Trojan War. He was born to Tydeus and Deipyle and later became King of Argos, succeeding his grandfather, Adrastus. Diomedes is regarded alongside Ajax as the second-best warriors of all the Greeks. He and his close companion Odysseus are the favoured heroes of Athena. He’s one of the warriors who entered the Trojan Horse shortly before the sack of Troy.

Early myths

Prior to his adventures in Troy, Diomedes was one of the Epigonoi, the sons of the warrior-kings who fell on the Seven Against Thebes. The Epigonoi organized a military expedition that was meant to avenge their fathers’ deaths by ceding the Kingdom of Thebes. After Tydeus’ death, Diomedes married an Argive woman and settled in Argos. Even as a permanent citizen of Argos, Diomedes would still spy and interfere with the affairs of his father’s Calydonian homeland that was ruled by his grandfather Oeneus. Eventually, a conspiracy was organized by a man named Thersites aiming to overthrow the King. Thersites had Oeneus put in jail and his father to the throne. Diomedes attacked and ceded the Kingdom, slaying all traitors except Thersites who managed to escape, restoring his grandfather to the throne. Later on when Oeneus passed the Kingdom to his son-in-law Andraemon, he headed for Argos to meet Diomedes but was assassinated on the way by Thersites. Unable to find the murderers, Diomedes founded a mythical city called Oenoe at the place where his grandfather was buried to honour his death. Later during the Trojan War, Thersites was brutally slain by Achilles after having mocked at him when the latter cried over Penthesilia’s dead body.

Diomedes is also known for being one of the suitors of Helen, and therefore bound by the Oath of Tyndareus to defend and protect the one who would become her husband. Thus Diomedes and all the suitors eventually participated in the Mycenaean expedition against Troy.

Trojan War

Diomedes enters the war with a fleet of 80 ships, only second to Agamemnon’s contribution of 100. According to some interpretations, Diomedes is represented in the epic as the most valiant soldier of the war, who never commits hubris. He’s often referred to as the youngest amongst the Achaean warrior-Kings, and yet the most powerful fighter, only bested by Achilles. On other occasions Ajax is also characterized as the second best warrior of the Achaean force. However during Patroclus’ funeral games, both Diomedes and Ajax win the first place in the armed sparring tournament with a draw. Apart from his outstanding fighting abilities and courage, Diomedes is in several crucial occasions shown to possess great wisdom, which is acknowledged and respected by his much older comrades, including Agamemnon and Nestor. Instances of Diomedes’ maturity and Intelligence as they can be seen in parts of the epic:

Agamemnon taunts Diomedes by calling him a much inferior fighter than his father. One of his enraged comrades enforces Diomedes to stand up to Agamemnon by responding that he has bested his father and avenged his death by conquering “Seven-gated” Thebes. Diomedes responded that it was part of Agamemnon’s tasks as a leader to urge forward the Achaean soldiers, and that men of valour should have no problem withstanding such kind of insults.

* but they all held their peace, till at last Diomedes of the loud battle-cry made answer saying, “Son of Atreus, I will chide your folly, as is my right in council. Be not then aggrieved that I should do so…”

* “The sons of the Achaeans shouted applause at the words of Diomedes, and presently Nestor rose to speak. “Son of Tydeus,” said he, “in war your prowess is beyond question, and in council you excel all who are of your own years; no one of the Achaeans can make light of what you say nor gainsay it, but you have not yet come to the end of the whole matter. You are still young- you might be the youngest of my own children- still you have spoken wisely and have counselled the chief of the Achaeans not without discretion;”

Instances of Diomedes’ valour and expertise in battle according to quotations:

* “As he (Diomedes) spoke he sprang from his chariot, and his armour rang so fiercely about his body that even a brave man might well have been scared to hear it.” – Book IV

* “Diomed looked angrily at him and answered: “Talk not of flight, for I shall not listen to you: I am of a race that knows neither flight nor fear, and my limbs are as yet unwearied. I am in no mind to mount, but will go against them even as I am;” Battle with Aeneas and Pandarus – Book V

* “But the son of Tydeus caught up a mighty stone, so huge and great that as men now are it would take two to lift it; nevertheless he bore it aloft with ease unaided,” Battle with Aeneas – Book V

* “”Father Jove, grant that the lot fall on Ajax, or on the son of Tydeus, or upon the king of rich Mycene himself.” Duel of Hector – Book VII

* “The old man instantly began cutting the traces with his sword, but Hector’s fleet horses bore down upon him through the rout with their bold charioteer, even Hector himself, and the old man would have perished there and then had not Diomed been quick to mark” Saving Nestor – Book VII

* “They all held their peace, but Diomedes of the loud war-cry spoke saying,

“Nestor, gladly will I visit the host of the Trojans over against us, but if another will go with me I shall do so in greater confidence and comfort. When two men are together, one of them may see some opportunity which the other has not caught sight of; if a man is alone he is less full of resource, and his wit is weaker.” Achaean plans – Book X

Book V of the Iliad is centered on the battlefield valour of Diomedes, who during the absence of Achilles, becomes the mightiest soldier of the Achaean army by spreading havoc among the Trojan ranks. Diomedes enters the battle, slays a handful of Trojan soldiers, including some of Priam’s sons, causing thus fear to many others. He’s spotted and attacked by two of the elite Trojan soldiers, the demi-God Aeneas (son of Aphrodite) and the archer Pandarus. Pandarus shoots an arrow and injures Diomedes, but his battle abilities are not much affected. Diomedes kills Pandarus with his spear and throws a great rock on Aeneas, who gets seriously injured. Aphrodite enters the battle in an attempt to save the life of her son, whom she grabs and manages to escape with. Diomedes attacks and injures Aphrodite, who starts crying, drops Aeneas and heads to Mount Olympus to complain to Zeus.

Meanwhile Apollo grabs the unconscious body of Aeneas and tries to walk away. Diomedes attacks him three times and is repelled by a flashing light. On his fourth attack, Diomedes is halted by Apollo‘s warnings, and he remembers the instructions of Athena, which allowed him to attack Aphrodite, but no other Olympian. Later in the same melee, Diomedes fights with Hector and encounters Ares, the war-god, fighting on the Trojans’ side. Thinking still of Athena‘s instructions, Diomedes calls for his soldiers to fall back slowly. However, Athena encourages Diomedes to re-enter the battlefield, and after she mounts a chariot by his side, he attacks and drives a spear into Ares’ body. Bellowing in pain, the wounded god ascends to Olympus in a column of smoke, forcing the Trojans to fall back.

In the Iliad, Diomedes and Odysseus steal King Rhesus’s team of fine horses during a night raid on the Trojan camp. This demonstrates the two kings’ courage and guile, but more importantly fulfills one of the prophecies required for the fall of Troy: that Troy will not fall while the horses of Rhesus feed upon its plains. Another version of the myth suggested Troy would never fall unless the Palladium was stolen (also achieved by the former pair).

There is also an account on a mission in which Diomedes and Odysseus set out to retrieve the cursed and abandoned Philoctetes, whose Heraclean bow was necessarry for the conquest of Ilium. In another version, Odysseus is sent on that mission with Achilles‘ blood-thirsty son, Neoptolemus.


Diomedes is one of the Achaean heroes who earns a safe return by the Gods, or almost. Despite Diomedes’ noble treatment of her son Aeneas, Aphrodite never managed to forget about the Argive spear that had once pierced her flesh in the fields of Troy. As soon as Diomedes arrives to his Kingdom of Argos he’s taken by surprise, as his wife Aegiale had been persuaded by Aphrodite to marry another man and put him to the throne. Diomedes finds that he has no wish to punish a woman nor any further reason to remain on Achaean land. Thus he sets off with his armies to Italy, where he founds the cities of Brindisium and Arpus Hippium. In Virgil’s Aeneid, Diomedes has a second encounter with his old enemy Aeneas, whose life he would have taken during the Trojan War if not for the intervention of first Aphrodite and second Apollo. The natives of Latium visit the palace of Diomedes (then already a King) in an attempt to pursue him to lead their armies against the forces of Aeneas. Diomedes turned down the offer, claiming that he had already killed too many Trojans in his life, and that his purpose in Italy was to live in peace.


Athena granted Diomedes the immortality that was once meant for his father Tydeus. Thus Diomedes became a God who was worshipped under various names in Italy.

Trojan War: Roleplaying in the Age of Homeric Adventure

A Mythic Vistas Sourcebook for the d20 System

Written by Aaron Rosenberg

Diomedes, son of Tydeus, is the king of the city-state of Argos. His father was one of the ‘Seven against Thebes,’ a group of warriors who attacked that powerful city but failed to defeat it and died instead. As a young man Diomedes and the other children of the Seven completed what their fathers started, and conquered the city. Diomedes won fame for his skill in battle, and after returning home became the king of Argos. He is a large, powerfully built man with brown hair and brown eyes, and is not particularly good-looking but not ugly either.
Diomedes is one of the more intelligent fighters in the Achaean army, and that, plus his even temperament and good nature, have made him well liked off the battlefi eld, while his sense of strategy and his fighting prowess earned him respect in combat. He is closest with Odysseus, and the two often scout the Trojan forces together.

Late in the war, Diomedes and Glaucus met on the battlefield. Upon exchanging names and lineages, they realize their fathers were friends, and so they vow not to fight one another as long as other foes remain. To prove their friendship, they exchanged armor ‘Diomedes gives Glaucus his +1 layered bronze panoply, and receives Glaucus’ +2 burnished layered bronze panoply in return.

Male human Charioteer 10/Runner 8
Medium humanoid
Hit Dice10d10+30 plus 8d10+24; hp 153
Speed40 ft.
Armor Class25, touch 12, flatfooted 23
Base Atk +18; Grp +21;
Attack+22 melee (1d8+4/19- 20, +1 bronze longsword) or +20 ranged (1d8+4, +1 throwing spear)
Full Attack+22/+17/+12/+7 melee (1d8+4/19-20, +1 bronze longsword) or +20 ranged (1d8+4, +1 throwing spear)
Space/Reach5 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacksextended attack, momentum, sideswipe
Special QualitiesSQ agile runner, capture, chariot expertise, difficult target, evasion, fast entry, gauge skill, quick defense, skilled charge, skilled horseman, skillful maneuvering, steady, trained steeds, voice command
SavesFort +8, Ref +15, Will +6;
AbilitiesStrength 17, Dexterity 15, Constitution 16, Intelligence 14, Wisdom 13, Charisma 10.
SkillsBalance +9, Climb +11, Concentration +9, Drive +15, Handle Animal +7, Intimidate +14, Jump +17, Knowledge (tactics) +17, Listen +9, Ride +10, Spot +8;
FeatsChariot Attack*B, Chariot Shield*, Cleave, Drive-By Attack*B, Endurance, Improved Initiative, Lion of the Field*, Noble*, Power Attack, Run.
Challenge Rating18
AlignmentNeutral Good

Possessions: +1 layered bronze panoply, +1 bronze round shield, +1 bronze longsword, +1 throwing spear

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