Essays on achilles in the iliad


Justice and Love in the Iliad

King who devours his people 85, ! Thus his rage and withdrawal from battle can be viewed as a sort of nonviolent resistance in the face of despotism. The case can be made that both Agamemnon and Achilles in this situation act incredibly selfishly. Furthermore, beyond simply sulking and refusing to fight, Achilles asks his mother Thetis to appeal to Zeus to help the Trojans. In his rage against Agamemnon, Achilles has now actively sought the death of his fellow Achaeans — a damnable act, hardly inspiring sympathy. Based on this evidence, one could assume him to be an egocentric rageaholic.

Indeed, sufficient evidence for the negative view of Achilles is to be found just in the first few pages of The Iliad. Not until book nine does he reappear in any significant form, after much bloodshed has already been sustained on the battlefield. The stretch of battles scenes leaves the reader ample time to stew over his or her initial attitude towards Achilles.

Similarly, it leaves Achilles to stew in his rage towards Agamemnon. When Achilles reenters the action in book nine, the tables have turned slightly; he is now being plied with gifts in exchange for his return. On the favorable side, the idea of asserting the rights of the common man once again appears.

The Rage That Drives Achilles

This time, on a fundamental level, Achilles questions why the troops are even fighting for Agamemnon. Their lives and homes had not been threatened by the Trojans.


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They are simply fighting to settle the personal scores of rulers. His familial sentiments can be considered touching; he views Briseis with spousal tenderness, even though she is his prize. To take the negative view, one can return to the fact that Achilles now has the advantage, and as such, his actions should be judged against a higher standard.

Achilles could accept the embassy with grace and honor, but instead he remains obstinate in his refusal. Not only is this obstinacy childish, it is also detrimental to the ranks of Achaean soldiers, who cannot face the Trojans without Achilles. His selfish pride is costing the lives of thousands of fellow warriors.

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These attitudes of sympathy or disgust seem fairly straightforward. Yet both the argument in favor of the positive view of Achilles and that in favor of the negative view cannot be considered complete without taking into account some themes of ancient Greek culture. One such theme is that of honor. Honor is mentioned constantly throughout The Iliad; it was obviously of paramount importance to the men of ancient Greece. The original row between Agamemnon and Achilles had honor at its core: whoever lost his trophy woman would also lose a part of his honor and manliness.


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  • In most cases, and particularly for Achilles, honor and death go hand in hand. Achilles specifically knows that if he fights he will die, and that if he sails home he will live a long life. Choosing to sail seems the cowardly route, yet considering the historical context, the action would have been a bravely revolutionary one to take. Thus these social ideas of honor and mortality can be used to further blur the line between the positive and negative views of Achilles. The circumstances under which Achilles finally reenters combat result in interesting perspectives on his character.

    His directions to Patroclus about not entering the city seem to show affectionate and genuine concern.

    Free Essays - Character of Achilles in Homer's Iliad :: Iliad essays

    These occurrences tend to endear Achilles to the reader by portraying him as a caring and sensitive human being. In characteristic ambiguous fashion, the above events can all easily be interpreted negatively instead of positively. In the end, by remaining an enigma, Achilles inspires the reader to ponder the very depths of human experience that The Iliad explores.

    Remember: This is just a sample from a fellow student. Sorry, copying is not allowed on our website. Even though Apollo lifted the plaque he casted over the camp after Chryseis was returned, Achilles request from Zeus was now in place and with Zeus now on the Trojans side, the worst was yet to come. Even though the Trojan War has been going on for nearly ten years, Achilles decision to refuse to fight alongside Agamemnon cripples the Achaean army and ends the ten year battle within a matter of a few days after his return. On the other hand the conflict that arose between Agamemnon and Achilles was started by the Greek God Apollo whom casted the plaque in the first place which in turn tipped off the conflict between these two men.

    The gods give Diomedes supernatural powers and the ability to harm a god in hopes that he will even out the war and the absence of Achilles. Unfortunately this is not enough for the Achaean army to defeat the Trojans without Achilles and his men. The Achaeans try bribing Achilles for his return and to stand and fight with them but Achilles rage towards Agamemnon is so strong that he refuses. It is not until Patroclus, Achilles best friend, dresses in Achilles uniform and returns to battle. He goes on slaying Trojans by the numbers just to get to Hector. Eventually he slays Hector and drags his body all over the city.

    His inability to not be able to rationalize situations and to be driven by rage and anger is the cause of such a brutal war in his absence.

    The Iliad by Homer - Book 22 Summary & Analysis

    His rage caused a mass amount of deaths to the Achaean army as well as the fate of his best friend Patroclus. Share this Post!

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