This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

The Character Of Achilles In Homer's Illiad

2041 words - 8 pages

For centuries now, the character of Achilleus, the great Achaean warrior, has been a subject of major debate among those studying Homer's classic epic The Iliad. Ironically, though there is very little physical description of Achilleus in The Iliad, he is perhaps the most thoroughly developed character in the epic. It seems as though Achilleus has a tendency to make a very strong impression on the reader, and often a bad one at that. Those who dislike Achilleus in particular attack his overpowering sense of personal pride, or hubris, in Greek terminology, as demonstrated fully in his actions thought the epic. However, those who sympathize with him are able to see the character's nobility, even despite his stubborn tendencies. He is not excessively vain, or arrogant - simply a man with wounded ego. His loyalty to his friend ultimately prevails. Idealistically speaking then, a reader need not demonize Achilleus for his hubris, but rather recognize that his positive qualities outweigh the negative, and that any character flaws one may find merely serve the purpose of making him more human.

Those who enjoy playing deconstructionist and picking apart Achilleus' character start quite logically with his pride, the most outwardly apparent and detrimental of his personality traits. From the opening lines of the epic, the reader is made aware of a power struggle between Achilleus and the great Achaean king Agamemnon. Eventually, enraged and humiliated, Achilleus takes his troops out of the war entirely. Many admire Achilleus for his strength of character in this protest, and see him as justified at this point, especially when taking into consideration how overwhelmingly important the idea of honor was to the Greeks. A line is definitely crossed, however, when Achilleus prays to his mother, the sea nymph Thetis, to ask Zeus to bring defeat to his own side. Zeus obliges, and the Achaean forces are slaughtered left and right. Then, when Agamemnon realizes his mistake and apologizes, saying "I was mad, I myself will not deny it" (9.116) and makes a genuine plea to Achilleus to save the Achaean troops, Achilleus does not listen. Agamemnon offers him land, gold, Briseis returned, and his own daughter's hand in marriage, and Achilleus still refuses to help. He is content to continue nursing his wounded ego as his friends are being killed by the thousands. Even as the war rages on, and Achilleus actually wants to reenter the battle, his obstinate pride refuses to let him do so unless his own safety is threatened by the fighting. As he recounts, "Still I said I would not give over my anger until that time came / when the fighting with all it clamor came to my own ships" (16.62-3). Even arguing that a reader cannot understand Achilleus because of cultural differences does not justify him at this point.

The manner in which Achilleus deals with this particular situation also brings to light another of his character flaws- a definite tendency towards...

Find Another Essay On The Character of Achilles in Homer's Illiad

Homer's "The Illiad" Warrior Essay

876 words - 4 pages Homer's View of War and Warriors.No reasonable argument can be made that Homer did not celebrate and promote war or the great warriors of Ancient Greece. Throughout Homer's the Iliad, it is made blatantly obvious by the author himself, that being a warrior or going to battle to protect your honor or family was an admirable thing to do. Being a warrior, in Homer's eyes at least, made you a more praiseworthy man. Warriors were referred to in the

Varying Cultural Structures in Homer's The Illiad and The Odyssey

1180 words - 5 pages Greek mythology deals significantly with culture and its factors, as they describe the societies and the people inhabiting it by depicting their everyday life and the state of their land. Both Hephaestus, in Homer’s Iliad, and Odysseus, in Homer’s The Odyssey, set out to portray the cultures that they saw, yet the cultures and societies varied greatly, from Hephaestus illustrating the highly developed societies of the Greek and their culture

Main Characters in Homer's The Iliad, Achilles and Hector

602 words - 2 pages Two of the main characters in Homer’s The Iliad, Achilles and Hector, compare very differently in many ways. Although they were both war heroes, they came from different sides of the battle and fought each other under different beliefs. These two brave warriors fought to the death in Book 22, where Hector eventually lost to Achilles. Even though Hector lost the fight, the war still raged on, even less merciful than before. These two

Achilles as the Anti-Hero in Homer's "Iliad." Is Achilles' behavior justified, and does he change by the end of the story?

1125 words - 5 pages From beginning to end of Homer's The Iliad, Achilles is portrayed as a man stagnant in his ways. He is arrogant, impatient, unforgiving, vengeful, and extremely stubborn, and these awful attributes never cease. Achilles' lack of compassion perplexes the present situation involving the Achaens and the Trojans by making it difficult to figure out which side is truly good and evil--both sides have good reason to fight. Even though Achilles is set

Importance of Character in Homer's Odyssey

1135 words - 5 pages Importance of Character in Homer's Odyssey   Odyssey, by Homer, is about Odysseus, the king of Ithaca.  Odysseus fights in the Trojan War and wins.  He travels towards Ithaca but does not reach it because he is not in favor of Poseidon, god of the sea, who prevents his return.  For many years, Odysseus wanders the seas and has many adventures.  Meanwhile, suitors attempt to marry Penelope, Odysseus' wife, but she

Character of Penelope in Homer's Odyssey

1392 words - 6 pages The Character of Penelope in The Odyssey "My lady, there is no man in the wide world who could find fault with you. For your fame has reached broad heaven itself, like that of some illustrious king."(Page 289,Book 19, The Odyssey) Penelope played one of the most vital roles in Homer's timeless classic ‘The Odyssey’, as both Odysseus's patient and loving wife and as the Queen of Ithaca. Her great love for Odysseus is most powerfully shown

The Iliad: Homer's Views of Life and Death through Achilles and Hector

1071 words - 4 pages The Iliad: Homer's Views of Life and Death through Achilles and HectorThe Iliad takes place in 1200 B.C. on the North West coast of present day Turkey. Homer of Greece put the epic on paper for the first time in the ninth century. From that moment on the Iliad and Achilles would be known around the ancient and present day world as the epic of the warrior. People referred to Achilles for centuries as a great hero, who lived for the warrior code

The role of achilles in the il

1986 words - 8 pages In the epic poem, The Iliad, Homer describes a social occasion in which character's values, the values of that character's culture and the themes those values develop can be derived. The funeral games, held by Achilles in honor of his late friend Patroclus, is a perfect example of such an occasion. Achilles is the model for the Achaeans throughout the funeral games, and throughout the text. The way Achilles acts has an effect on the Trojan War

The Humanity of Achilles

1170 words - 5 pages As George Eliot once said, “It is a narrow mind which cannot look at a subject from various points of view.” Whether viewing a piece of artwork or another person, there are often many points of view to evaluate in order to find the true core of the subject. In great works of literature, authors often create complex and dynamic characters to add depth and meaning into the story. In the Iliad, Homer beautifully depicts the multifaceted character

The Change of Achilles

560 words - 2 pages In The Iliad, Achilles faces many decision-making situations. He shows a human side like any other person, but when fate takes over, he goes in a series of changes. The all mighty Achilles turns into a weeping child when his prize is taken away. His long lasting anger against Agamemnon turns into camaraderie after his friend Patroklos is killed and finally his wrath against Hector's body turns into compassion when Priam begs for the body to be

The Lack of Credibility in Homer's Iliad

1405 words - 6 pages . Homer passes judgments on the events and characters of the story. Even though his presence in the story is never as blatant as using the self-referent "I" in the story, he does manage, at several points in the story, to remind us that he is present. For instance, he describes Achilles as "brilliant Achilles" (Fagles 98). The fact that Homer describes, indirectly, Achilles as "brilliant Achilles" shows that Homer admires the character of Achilles. We

Similar Essays

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" ( "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

Achilles In Homer's The Odyssey: A Character Analysis

1205 words - 5 pages Achilles: A Character StudyThe Iliad is the famous epic poem written by Homer. While it depicts the ruthless war of Troy, the actual war itself serves as the backdrop used to propel the story of Achilles forward. As the central character of The Iliad, it is his story that is the main focus of the war. Homer presents the story of a man who transforms from a fiercely savage warrior in the beginning to a more mature, sympathetic man by the end of

The Importance Of Family In Homer's "The Illiad."

864 words - 3 pages Most people would consider their family to be among their top priorities, if not their very first. In Homer's "The Illiad", Hecuba is portrayed as a woman who values family. Her emphasis on family values is demonstrated in her relationship with her son Hektor, as well as her husband Priam.Hecuba feared Achilleus would kill her son Hektor in battle so she attempted to persuade him to refrain from fighting the great Achilleus. Unfortunately she

The Shield Of Achilles. From The Illiad

769 words - 3 pages Frosh Level Essay NoneThe Shield of Achilles:The shield of Achilles plays a major part in the Iliad. It portrays the story of the Achaeans and their fight against the Trojans in a microcosm of the larger story. Forged by the god, Hephaestus, who was a crippled smith, it depicts the two cities and the happenings within, as well as Agamemnon's kingly estate. To gain insight into the details and intricacies of the shield, one must look at the