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The Character Achilles In Homer's The Iliad

966 words - 4 pages

The Character Achilles in Homer's The Iliad

"The first book of The Iliad, appropriately titled the "Rage of Achilles," sets the scene for the remainder of the epic" (selu.edu/Academics/Depts/WritingCenter/The_Growth_of_Achilles.htm). "This rage is invoked by pride, a theme of pivotal importance for the Greeks. Pride is the source of the conflict between Achilles and Agamemnon in Book 1. The incident that provoked Achilles rage took place in the tenth and final year of the Achaean attack on Troy. The king is angered by what he sees as a challenge to his authority. He is furious at Calchas for indicting Agamemnon as the cause of the plague. Rather than graciously admit his mistake, the king becomes monstrous and demands compensation for what should not have been his in the first place. He knows what he must do for the sake of the army, but he demands recognition of his privileged status as king" (gradesaver.com/ClassicNotes/Titles/iliad/summ1.htm).

"Agamemnon seizes Achilles' prize, the beautiful Briseis, to sooth his own wounded pride" (selu.edu/Academics/Depts/WritingCenter/The_Growth_of_Achilles.htm). "Achilles, in turn, demands recognition of his status as the greatest warrior among the Achaeans. The loss of Briseis is not humiliating because he has any kind of romantic attachment to her. It is humiliating because she was a prize given to Achilles by Agamemnon for valor"(gradesaver.com/ClassicNotes/Titles/iliad/summ1.htm). "When Agamemnon takes her away as is technically his right to do, although it clearly violates rules of respect and honorable conduct he dishonors Achilles horribly and devalues Achilles' contributions as a warrior" (Approaches of Teaching Homer's Iliad, p37). 'Even though Achilles is correct to suggest that Agamemnon return Chryseis, the swift runner's brash manner leaves Agamemnon feeling slighted"

(selu.edu/Academics/Depts/WritingCenter/The_Growth_of_Achilles.htm ). In return, Achilles vows that he will not fight in the Trojan War any longer. This is where he turned his back on his heroic ideals. He became cowardly and indecisive.

"Athena herself calls the king's behavior an "outrage". This insult to Achilles' pride is what causes the great warrior's wrath. The fact that Achilles is fiercely proud does not mean that Achilles is not a great man, because the Greeks understood pride as an inseparable part of a hero's greatness. He is hot-tempered, insubordinate, prizing his honor above the wellbeing of his fellow troopsHis wrath is the cause of his own later bitterness, the bitter end that his mother predicts. But he is also destined to die gloriously, unequaled on the battlefield. The desire to win glory is one of the themes of the Iliad, and it is seen in Achilles choice to win glory instead of long life. Achilles is also courageous, capable of deep feeling, and, unlike most of the characters of the epic, he is eventually transformed by new understanding"(gradesaver.com/ClassicNotes/Titles/iliad/summ1.htm).
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