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Achilles: The Tragic Hero Essay

1129 words - 5 pages

The Iliad, the Greek epic documented by Homer that describes the battles and events of the ten year siege on Troy by the Greek army. Both Trojans and Greeks had their fair share of heroes and warriors, but none could match the skill and strength of the swift runner, Achilles. Achilles had the attributes of a perfect warrior with his god-like speed and combat abilities. However, even though he was Greek’s greatest warrior, he still possessed several flaws that made him fit the role of the Tragic Hero impeccably. Defined by Aristotle, a Tragic Hero is someone who possesses a high status of nobility and greatness, but must have imperfections so that mere mortals cannot relate to the hero. Lastly, the Tragic Hero’s downfall must be partially their own fault through personal choice rather than by an evil act, while also appearing to be not entirely deserved of their unfortunate fate. Achilles is a true Tragic Hero because he withholds all of these traits. Achilles proves to be a good man that puts his loved ones first, reveals his tragic flaws of pride and anger, shows dynamic qualities as a character when his flaws are challenged, and has a moment of clarity at the end of his rage. Achilles truly exemplifies the qualities of a Tragic Hero.
Achilles is introduced into The Iliad getting into a debacle with the leader of the Greek army, Agamemnon, during the last year of the Trojan War. Achilles starts a quarrel with Agamemnon because he has demanded possession of Achilles’ woman, Briseis, in consolation for having to give up his woman, Chryseis, so that the gods will end their plague upon the Greek soldiers. Achilles does all he can to get his loved one back, but he knows that nothing will waver Agamemnon’s decision. This is when Achilles reveals both of his flaws, anger and pride. Achilles, enraged about Agamemnon taking his prize, goes to his goddess mother, Thetis, who makes connections with the other gods to give the Greeks terrible luck on the battlefield against the Trojans. “Remind him of that, now, go and sit beside hime, grasp his knees... see how mad he was to disgrace Achilles, the best of the Achaean” (1, 484-490). This pacifies Achilles’ rage briefly while he goes back to the ships and refuses to help the struggling Achaeans on the battlefield because Agamemnon hurt his pride. Another instance that highlights Achilles flaw of anger is when the great Trojan warrior, Hector, kills Achilles close comrade Patroclus. Achilles bursts from his sulking attitude out of the Achaean ships in a rage of passionate fury that even his pride cannot overcome. “My dear comrade’s dead... Hector’s battered down by my spear and gasps away his life, the blood-price for Patroclus, Menotius’ gallant son he’s killed and stripped” (18, 94-109). This signifies Achilles’ zenith of anger and represents the turning point in the epic, along with the transition into his dramatic reversal as a character.
Once Achilles decides to go after Hector to seek revenge for his...

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