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Heroes: Achilles And Antigone Essay

1131 words - 5 pages

Heroes: Achilles and Antigone

Homer and Sophocles are two great classical writers whose stories open windows into the lives of ancient Greek society. Achilles and Antigone are two protagonists that clearly show what Homer and Sophocles considered to be important traits for heroes in their time. Through these authors it is possible to see what values the ancient Greeks held in highest regard. First by comparing and contrasting these two heroes it is possible to see which traits they share, secondly, looking at the both entire work will show what Homer and Sophocles both considered to be important in a hero, and finally, addressing the differences between the two authors will show the ...view middle of the document...

Achilles is less devout in following the gods’ every direction but he does consent when Zeus, through Thetis, orders him to release Hector’s body to Priam. This is where their similarities end. Achilles is the prime example of a man driven by honor above all else. The conflict between Agamemnon and Achilles in the Iliad starts with Agamemnon taking Achilles reward which happens to be a woman. After a great deal of fighting, Achilles vows not to participate in the remainder of the war. Achilles only returns to the battle field to avenge the death of Patroclus. The revenge and grief that Achilles feels is honorable in that he cares for his friend so greatly. Antigone’s beliefs are different than Achilles but carry similar outcomes. Antigone believes in the devotion to her family and the gods over devotion to the laws of man. When Antigone attempts to find aid from her sister Ismene she is denied. Ismene believes that there is nothing they can do because Creon has ordered them to do nothing. Antigone refuses this argument and goes alone because she believes she has a duty to her brother to bury his body and bring peace to his soul.

After looking at Achilles and Antigone it is clear that there are certain traits that Homer and Sophocles believe a hero should convey. Both authors believe in the idea that a hero should be willing to die for what they believe in, and that they should not fear the approaching doom. Achilles only seems to choose life over death briefly while he is sitting in his tent, but when the time came he approached his inevitable fate without fear. Antigone’s brief regrets for what she had done and the life she would not have did not prevent her from upholding what she thought was right. Her regrets actually added power to her beliefs because they showed that she understood what she was losing. Homer and Sophocles also look for a trait of religious devotion. Homer’s version of this piety is different than Sophocles’ but it is still there. Achilles is directly connected to the gods through birth, he often speaks with various gods, and he even fits against/along with gods. Homer seems to create a sense of power through gods in the mortal man....

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