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Achilles In Homer's The Odyssey: A Character Analysis

1205 words - 5 pages

Achilles: A Character StudyThe Iliad is the famous epic poem written by Homer. While it depicts the ruthless war of Troy, the actual war itself serves as the backdrop used to propel the story of Achilles forward. As the central character of The Iliad, it is his story that is the main focus of the war. Homer presents the story of a man who transforms from a fiercely savage warrior in the beginning to a more mature, sympathetic man by the end of the poem.Homer begins his story by presenting its readers with the central theme of the poem: Achilles' Rage.Rage-Goddess, sing the rage of Peleus' son Achilles,murderous, doomed, that cost the Acheans countless losses,hurling down to the House of Death so many sturdy souls,great fighters' souls, buy made their bodies carrion,feasts for the dogs and birds,and the will of Zeus was moving toward its end.Begin, Muse, when the two first broke and clashed,Agamemnon lord of men and brilliant Achilles (1. 1-8).These first eight lines of The Iliad introduce the man that is Achilles and foreshadow what will ultimately become of him. Here, Homer provides a brief synopsis of things to come in this ancient epic poem. Through this introduction, readers know there will be consequences to Achilles' actions, which are linked to the gods' will, and are given an important point in time when two of the poem's main characters, Agamemnon and Achilles, begin their feud. The childish feud, which begins after Agamemnon steals Achilles' prized possession, Briseis, illustrates Achilles immaturity. He runs to his mother, Thetis, and asks her to have Zeus, the god of gods, return a favor owed to her by making the Trojans start winning the war. This is done in much the same way as when as adolescent asks a mother for something needed. Thus, Achilles is represented as a person of naïve and immature mentality.Up to this point, readers of the poem have only been presented a single side of Achilles' personality. However, in book 9, a glimpse into Achilles' past and future is conferred. During the embassy to Achilles' tent, Odysseus and Ajax remind him of the words his father once spoke, "My son, victory is what Athena and Hera will give, / if they so choose. But you, you hold in check / that proud, fiery spirit of yours inside your chest!" (9. 308-310). Pelues's words to his son remind readers of the internal dilemma Achilles faces and also illuminates his inner struggles. Thus, Achilles becomes less of a one-dimensional warrior, but a richer character with many facets to him. This is not to say that the complete character ark has been completed at this point. In response to the embassy sent by Agamemnon, Achilles states;…If I hold out here and I lay siege to Troy,my journey home is gone, but my glory never dies.If I voyage back to the fatherland I love,my pride, my glory dies…true, but the life that's left me will be long,the stroke of death will not come on me quickly (9. 500-505).By responding this way to what can...

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