The Iliad, translated by Robert Fitzgerald, is an epic about the Trojan war which displays the complicated relationships between the Greeks and the Trojans in their final year of battle. Akhilleus has all the attributes of a great warrior and distinguishes himself as one of the strongest fighters on the Akhaian side. In The Iliad, Akhilleus’ motivation is led by his thirst for bravery and the desire to leave behind a legacy causing him to go to far extents to fulfill Akhilleus’ need for pride. However, this is only attained after his conversation with Priam, when Akhilleus learns what it means to show honor in a sense of camaraderie and loyalty.
Throughout the poem, Akhilleus seeks respect and honor, but nothing is enough for him. Akhilleus fights in battle and slaughters many men thinking that he will finally feel complete inside and release all of the anger and rage Akhilleus has locked up inside him. As Priam comes to Akhilleus to beg for Hektor’s body so the Trojans can celebrate Hektor and have a proper memorial service, Priam says:
Remember your own father, Akhilleus, in your godlike youth:
his years like mine are many, and he stands upon
the fearful doorstep of old age. He, too,
is hard pressed, it may be, by those around him, there being no able to defend him from bane of war and ruin (Iliad 24.583-589).
When Priam asks Akhilleus to remember his own father, Priam and Akhilleus share a connection, and Akhilleus takes pity on the king and through the realization between everything both their families have lost. Priam is asking him to think about honor in the sense of the elders and loyalty. Death in the Bronze Age was something that was unknown and mysterious which made it frightening. Akhilleus takes into account that neither his father, Peleus, nor Priam will have their son there to comfort them in their old age. In addition, neither of them will have their sons there to help them handle all the distress caused by the war.
Although Akhilleus is often depicted in a cruel and heartless manner, Akhilleus does indeed have a compassionate and sympathetic side to him. During Akhilleus’ conversation with Priam, they both recognize that all they are left with is remembrance. Akhilleus and Priam have both lost a loved one and grieve together. Two strong figures in the epic become:
overborne as they remembered:
the old king huddled at Akhilleus’ feet ...