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Deus And Kleos: The Paradox Of Glory In Homer's The Iliad

1380 words - 6 pages

The Iliad is the story of hundreds of Ancient Greek heroes and kings seeking to take the fabled city of Troy. They embody the values that the Ancient Greeks valued. The charismatic Odysseus, the mighty Achilles, the wise Nestor, the royal Agamemnon all take part in the Iliad. The heroes pursue personal glory on the battlefield. Glory to them, is more valuable than their families, their lives, and form the very basis for their existence. The invincible Achilles, mightiest of the Achaeans, chooses to withdraw from the fight due to a loss of glory. Glory, the intangible, almost untouchable thing that even the mightiest of heroes sought. The idea of glory is the temptation of man, it leads them in an endless cycle of conflict and struggle, and for only in conflict can glory be found. Achilles willingly lets hundreds die due to an insult to his honor, and a loss of glory. The noble soldier Sarpedon, wishes for peace but fights for glory. Dolon marches off in a quest for glory, but is nowhere near ready.
Achilles has a hunger for glory that is unquenchable. Achilles knowingly marches to his death for his mother told him that “if [he] hold out here and [he] lay siege to Troy, [his] journey home is gone, but [his] glory never dies” (Book IX line 498-501). He is willing to go to his death for the slightest hope of glory. However, take away his glory and he no longer has a reason to fight. Because Agamemnon takes Achilles’ prize, Briseis, Achilles withdraws from the battle. If glory and prizes can be taken so easily, Achilles finds no sense in the war or to continue the battle. However, no amount of physical treasures can satiate Achilles’ hunger for glory. Agamemnon attempts to tempt Achilles to return to the battlefield with great treasures, land, and even the hand of one of his daughters. However, Achilles refuses to return to the battle field even “if he gave [him] ten times as much, twenty times over, all he possesses now, and all that could pour in from the world’s end” ( Book IX, line 464). Achilles values glory and honor above everything else. Agamemnon insulted his honor, and took his glory, and nothing to Achilles can replace that. When Achilles withdraws from the battlefield he pleads with his immortal mother, Thetis, to plead with Zeus to “grant the Trojans victory after victory till the Achaean armies pay my dear son back.” (Book I, line 607-608). Achilles forsakes the bonds of camaraderie due to the loss of glory and honor inflicted upon him by Agamemnon. Yet he lets his faithful companion, Patroclus, march in his armor. Achilles while pursuing glory and honor, lets a lesser man wield his armor, which often is used to symbolize glory. Soldiers often took the armor of the enemies they have killed as trophies. Achilles, while steadfast in his pursuit of honor and glory, willingly gives glory to his comrades. While Achilles is willing to let his comrades fall in battle because of an insult to his glory. He is also willing to part with his...

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