Achilles and the Greek Era Essay

Achilles, son of Peleus, King of Myrmidons, and Thetis, sea nymph, comes to Troy as part of a Greek force led by King Agamemnon. Unlike most protagonists, Achilles does not develop significantly over the course of the epic. “Swift” Achilles, having been a famed and valiant soldier, was sought after and loved by all, except his adversary Agamemnon. He was a prominent warrior known for his great strength that actually caused the Achaeans to win many battles. How was Achilles such a bloodlust hero? A hero is one who is “admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. This warrior is all three of these points. Achilles’ honorable attitude for his loved ones, bravery in times of adversity, and as the definition states, “outstanding achievements” make him a hero beyond recognition. Living in a difficult age full of war and death, Achilles tried to hold dear to the time he still had with his loved ones by remembering to treat them with an honorable attitude. During the Trojan War, having glory and honor was looked upon with great respect, so he would try to grasp this glory and honor with his honorable approach to his friends and family.

Achilles had humanlike characteristics. He fought and risked his life for the people, many descendants from God themselves. Achilles was one of the most vital characters in the story. Being the ultimate most powerful warrior of all time, he wishes for nothing in his life but to be the most glorious man alive, mortal or immortal. It is this profound desire for glory and honor, that in the end leads to his demise. He helped to raised the Greek soldiers’ moral and was an excellent fighter. He fights to save his city, and believes in preconceived notions of his life, or predetermined destiny.

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Instead of fulfilling his desires, he fulfills those already given to him. Fate does not determine every action, incident, and occurrence, but it does determine the outcome of life. As the story unravels Achilles wrath for Agamemnon intensifies, but only after the death of Patroclus does he redirect his “rage” towards Hector. Killing Hector, leader of the Trojan army and son of the King of Troy. Achilles was full of wrath, or “rage. ” Achilles’ bloodlust, wrath, and pride continue to consume him. He forgets all the other troubles and gives up his pride to go avenge his friend.

Achilles demonstrates the last quality of a Homeric hero in the final book of the Iliad. Following the conventions of war, he gives Hector’s body back to his mourning father, Priam, king of Troy. He also consents to halt an Achaean offense until Troy has finished mourning for their prince. The normally frightening Achilles, suddenly shows a soft side and Priam’s words “…stirred within Achilles a deep desire to grieve…” Proud and headstrong, Achilles takes offense easily and reacts with blistering indignation when perceived that his honor has been insulted.

Agamemnon erroneously accuses Achilles of cheating him of his prize, Chryseis, Achilles insulted, retorts at Agamemnon reminding him of all the honors and loyalty he has earned while he shamelessly earns his pillage through his lust for greed. The dueling between Agamemnon and Achilles is mainly due to “honor,” the highest social value. They are fighting for honor, dignity, respect, and status. Honoring is associated with gifting. Achilles gifted to get the honor he wanted. He knew that through gifts, he would be remembered forever.

His legacy would live forever. Achilles, serves as an illustration of how different the Greek notion of heroism is from the later Christian notion which immediately succeeded it. During which the Iliad was written, was the Trojan War, the ten year siege of the city of Troy. The Trojan War were battles played out between Achilles and Agamemnon. Most place the timeline of the war in 8th century BC. The greek culture included homeric epics, One of the most prominent characteristics of ancient Greeks was the cleverness and the wit of a character.

The Odyssey does good job showing many instances in which Odysseus uses his brain and wits to get himself out of tricky situations. Although Homer’s Iliad is the first literary work of Western civilization, there is nothing tentative in its art. The poem displays consummate skill in character formation, and an examination of the structure of Homeric characterization may shed light on the process of literary creation in general. Homer had available from the oral tradition stock characters who are archetypal figures.

In his treatment of these, Homer isolated and emphasized certain aspects or identifying traits, thus making them more real than their prototypes. By presenting characters with problems which create inner tensions, he raises the character to a second, higher stage, the “individual” or “tragic” figure (Hector as husband, son, and father). The third stage is the evolution into the “symbolic” representation in which the character represents the extreme of the type (Hector as the persevering failure).

This schematic division into three stages is illustrated by the figures of Achilles, Hector, Agamemnon, Odysseus. The ancient Greeks had an optimist viewpoint, but were not realistic. The Greeks believed that in the end of any hardship justice would emerge on the victim. They thought that persistence and determination would see its way through. Greek writings are sometimes referred to as “mythological epics,” or heroic epics. They might emphasize qualities between the relations of the heroes and divine powers. The Iliad was an oral tradition.

The Iliad was full of warfare, the depictions Homer had created were graphic and bloody. Greek lives are predetermined or determined by fate. Hector calls Patroclus a fool, before killing him, for cowardly avoiding his fate, by attempting his defeat, “No, deadly destiny, with the son of Leto, has killed me, and of men it was Euphorbos; you are only my third slayer. And put away in your heart this other thing that I tell you. You yourself are not one who shall live long, but now already death and powerful destiny are standing beside you, to go down under the hands of the great son, Achilles. There are many literary traditions that Homer included in the Iliad. Greek stories are full of epic conventions. The homeric epic begins in media res, meaning in the middle of the story. The story begins in the middle of the Trojan War. Homer’s Iliad picks up in the tenth year of the war with the quarrel between Agamemnon and Achilles. The first nine years of the Trojan War, which are not dealt with in Homer’s Iliad, were relatively quiet because the Trojans learned during the early days of the war that they were no match for Achilles in open battle.

Therefore, the Trojans withdrew within their fortifications and endured a nine-year siege by the Greeks. The story begins with an invocation to the God, or muse. When reciting the poem to an audience, orally, it began with a blessing. Poet’s “were considered very sacred,” they could call down upon a God and have them in them. The story also begin with the theme in the opening paragraph. The poems are very long and complex that the poet would formally announce what he was going to explain to his audience, “not so much what, but the way it was being presented”

The reason for the constant repetitions in the Iliad is that Homer composed in an oral style, which involved the improvisation of poetry without the aid of writing. Repetitions are essential to the oral style of composition. In order to facilitate the adaptation of his words to the requirements of the dactylic hexameter, the traditional meter of Greek epic poetry, the oral poet used stock phrases, which “aided him in filling out various metrical portions of the line. ” (depthome) The settings in Homer’s stories are vast. The stories use the epic simile.

An epic simile is a “long comparison of two things that are in different classes. ” They clarify a vivid image. “Stock epithets” and “reiteration” were established through the oral tradition in the Iliad. These epithets are renaming of the characters, gods, or things by stock phrases. The oral epic tradition provided formulaic epithets “swift-footed Achilles” and formulaic incidents which were reworked by the monumental composer we know as Homer with the possible assistance of a newly invented method of writing, to narrate events from the ninth year of the Trojan War.

Epithets are used to quickly describe characters through the story. Epithets in the Iliad include, “White armed goddess Hera,” “Sweet-worded Nestor,” and “Warlord Agamemnon. ” With the description of the characters through epithets, Homer also lists the characters, just as the Old Testament has catalogues of genealogies. For instance, in the Iliad, “there is a list of the ships that sailed from Greece to Troy. ” Homer also uses long, drawn out descriptions throughout the Iliad. The long formal speeches are easy to acknowledge throughout the Iliad.

Homer uses this convention when going into much detail over Achilles shield. He opens the descriptive paragraph by explaining that “the earth, the sea, and the sky,” are on the shield. The heroes embody the values of their civilization. For example, the physical strength and stamina of Achilles. The “lifting of the latch of the door of his stockade requires the strength of three soldiers,” but Achilles is able to lift it with one hand. His spear, thrown so lightly, is eighteen feet long.

He is known to be a “power machine. ” The heroic codes in the Iliad are ideal to realize what marinates the action of the characters in the poem. Homeric heroism is “savage and merciless,” thus the character often finds himself in a dangerous, life or death situation. The code which governs the conduct of the Homeric heroes is simplistic. Every hero, including Achilles, lives to achieve honor from the world. Honor is needed to the Homeric heroes, so much so that life would be meaningless without it.


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