Iliad: Civilized Vs Barbaric Essay

892 words - 4 pages

Deciphering the Iliad
There are many controversies involving the Iliad, but the most important is about the characters in the Iliad demonstrating barbaric and civilized behavior. Questions about this and the answers can be found by looking at Hektor, Paris and Achilles. Hektor represents the civilized being, always looking for a peaceful resolution to a problem. Achilles refuses to fight and somewhat resembles Paris, the civilized coward. Paris would stay back and relax while the battle raged outside. Hektor was always out on the frontlines doing all he could to help his army. Achilles, angered by Agamemnon, betrays his own side and tells Zeus to bring a plague on the Achaeans, causing them to almost be wiped out. This was a barbarous act.
In the beginning, when Paris is first introduced, one sees him as an average hero, he steps forward and yells a war-cry at the beginning of the epic. As soon as Paris sees Menelaos, he retreats in fear, it would have to take divine intervention to get him back to battle Menelaos, which eventually does happen. The duel begins and Menelaos throws his spear, it clearly is going to sink into Paris but he is shielded by Aphrodite, and taken off to his castle where he waits out the rest of the battle in comfort. He refuses to rejoin the battle and then one realizes what he truly is, a coward. Although Paris is a coward he has refined taste and is a civilized coward. The act of dueling is unrefined, uncivilized and barbarous.

Throughout the Iliad there is corruption, Paris staying back in his home as the
battle rages on, and Achilles does the same. Agamemnon is kidnapping people in the
midst of battle, this causes Achilles to quit and nearly wipe out all of the Achaean army. Achilles refuses to rejoin the battle even when gifts are given to him, he only rejoins when his best friend is killed by Hektor in battle, and when he does rejoin he goes on a rampage. Achilles slaughters so many people that the gods even are upset at this, Achilles very much resembles a barbarian during this time. He heaves a mans body into the river, causing the river god to grow furious and attack him. Another god has to fend off the river god and save Achilles. Achilles continues his rampage, and the remaining soldiers flee and cower behind the walls of Troy. Hektor, boldly stays outside the gate and waits for Achilles, and when Achilles reaches the noble Hektor, he strikes him down, and then ties...

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