Pride Fueled Rage: Achilles Essay

1817 words - 7 pages

Achilles, the hero and great warrior of the Trojan War, is son of the goddess Thetis and mortal Peleus. He is extremely courageous and has tremendous honor, within his character however, is a juxtaposing inherent flaw of pride entwined with anger. Is it a necessary pride? Do all heroes have this character flaw? In The Iliad, the anger of Achilles is presented from the first line, “ Rage: / Sing Goddess, Achilles’ rage / Black and murderous…” (Line 1-3; p. 107). Here Achilles’ anger is described as rage, a term suitable to describe the anger of a God. Throughout the poem we see the triggers that set Achilles’ rage in motion. Certainly we see that this pride is what drives his rage and need for vengeance. This rage defines Achilles and sets the theme of the epic work. He isolates himself because of his rage when he decides to spite his comrades by withdrawing from the war. He becomes a character that is dimensionally narrow-minded, and before the end the reader only witnesses mere instances of another side, yet it is this rage that makes him a great warrior. Achilles, although tremendously valiant in the face of danger, at times allows himself to be blinded by his hubris.
Achilles’ rage begins with “the clash between [he and] Agamemnon” (7; p.107). A plague has been cast upon the men because Agamemnon refused to return Chryseis to her father the humble priest Chryses. Ten years into the siege of Troy and ten days into the plague cast by Apollo, Hera planted a thought and Achilles decides to speak up. He and Agamemnon argue about returning the girl and even after Agamemnon decides that he will, Achilles still abuses him. It would seem that Achilles is harboring some ill feelings toward his commander calling him a “…greedy glory-hound…” and a “shameless, profiteering excuse for a commander!” (131,159; p.110, 111). He says to Agamemnon:
“I don’t have any quarrel with the Trojans,
They never did anything to me…
It’s for you, dogface, for your precious pleasure—…
And now you are threatening to take away the prize…
I never get a prize equal to yours [Achilles reveals his gripe]…
You get the lion’s share and I go back to the ships
With some pitiful little thing, so worn out from fighting
I don’t have the strength to complain. (162-78; p.111)
Achilles is the one who does the fighting—great fighting. Even before his speech Agamemnon says to him, “You may be a good man in fight, Achilles, / And look like a god,” and the poet announces him as “the great runner,” and “strong, swift, and godlike” (110). It allows the reader to see that Achilles is truly a warrior, but he feels that he is not treated fairly when the prizes and booty are shared. The gods know that gifts are ultimately what pleases mortals and intervenes trying to break up the quarrel. She says to him, “Now come on, drop this quarrel, don’t draw your sword /…/ You’re going to get / Three times as many magnificent gifts,” this is the only way he decides not to kill Agamemnon. Evidently, this...

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