Grief in The Iliad
There are many lessons that can be learned from reading Homer's The Iliad. One of which is understanding the stages of grief. One can literally watch Achilles go through all five stages when he morns the death of his comrade Patroclus. Achilles moves through Denial and Isolation, Depression, Anger, Bargaining and Acceptance in the short time after his close friends death.
"Sheltered under his curving, beaked ships he found him, foreboding, deep down, all that had come to pass" (18.3-4). In this sentence, Achilles is trying to avoid learning about his friend's death. He has isolated himself in hopes that it is not true. He knows that it is so but feels that if he can keep from hearing the truth that it will not be. In the first stage of denial and isolation one tends to deny the loss has taken place, and may withdraw from their usual behavior. Following denial and isolation Achilles experienced great depression.
Depression is the stage that Achilles experiences for the greatest amount of time. Depression marks the breakdown of one's defenses in times of grief. The reality of the loss sinks in deeply and it dominates the grieving person much as it did Achilles. "A black cloud of grief came shrouding over Achilles. Both hands clawing the ground for soot and filth, he poured it over his head, fouled his handsome face and black ashes settled onto his fresh clean war-shirt. Overpowered in all his power, sprawled in the dust, Achilles lay there, fallen…tearing his hair, defiling it with his own hands" (18.25-30). In this passage Achilles is acting out some of the classic symptoms of depression such as sadness and hopelessness.
Another symptom of depression is suicide. Homer demonstrates this well in the following passage, "Antilochus kneeling near, weeping uncontrollably, clutched Achilles' hands as he wept his proud heart out—for fear he would slash his throat...