Many people have heard of Achilles, whether in Greek Mythology or when referring to the tendon in their foot. He is well known in the Iliad as the main force for the Achaeans in the Trojan War, dubbed the “swiftest warrior,” “Achilles dear to Zeus”, and “brilliant runner.” However many do not know the story of Achilles when he walks away from the Achaean campaign over a scuffle of war prizes. His action cripples the Achaean army, costing the lives of many. The story of the Trojan War is one where Achilles ultimately leads the Achaeans to Troy and kills Hector outside Priam’s walls. However, it was Patroclus, Achilles’ brother-in-arms, who should be accredited with the Achaean victories and know for his success against the Trojans in the War.
When the Achaean commander, Agamemnon, “graciously” returns his war prize Chryseis to her father in order to stop Apollo’s plague on the Achaean camp, he turns to Apollo’s war prize, Briseis, to compensate for his own loss. This angers Achilles, causing him to march off, declaring, “I [Achilles] would not relax my anger, not till the cries and carnage reached my own ships” (Iliad Book 16 Lines 70-71). Achilles is portrayed as a child who lost his toy, storming away in anger and begging his mother to fix the problem, not as a heroic commander of the Greek army. While it is understandable that Apollo would want his share of war prizes, it is extreme to abandon the crusade while knowing that he is the greatest fighter and a key member in the Achaean success. Without Achilles gone, so too are his men. Furthermore, to plead to his immortal mother, Thetis, to convince Zeus to allow the Trojans to gain ground, is erroneous and outrageous. Being upset with Agamemnon does not justify the loss of Achaean lives as the Trojans led by Hector regain their ground.
Patroclus, on the other hand proves to be a noble warrior who believes in the cause and his comrades above all else. Patroclus begs Achilles to let him put on Achilles’ shining armor, believing that the sight of “Achilles” will cause the Trojans to rethink their charge. However, by doing so, Patroclus made himself the prime target in battle. The Trojan men’s kelios (honor and reputation) would be highly boosted if they were the one to slay great Achilles, dear to Zeus. Despite knowing that the armor would put a bullseye on his head, Patroclus implores Achilles to give Achilles’ fine armor as Patroclus cares more about the greater picture of the war rather than his own selfish desires. Welding Achilles’ armor, Patroclus successfully repels the wave of Trojan warriors back to the trenches of Troy.
The Trojans are taken back when they see the reappearance of “Achilles” and retreat from the battleground, trapping and exposing themselves. “Each Trojan soldier glancing left and right – how could he run from sudden, plunging death?” (Iliad Book 16 Lines 332-333). This allows Patroclus to continue forward to the walls of Troy and slaying every Trojan he encounters...