Achilles As A Hero In Homer's Iliad

Superior Essays
Homer’s Iliad is an epic poem written concerning the time of the age of heroes. Knowing

this, one can assume that the narrative tells the story of a hero. At first glance it would appear

that Achilles is the hero of the Iliad because the story follows a plot line that revolves around his

actions. One might ask themselves; why then does the epic end with the funeral of Hector rather

than either ending with Achilles aristeia and defeat of hector, or going further to tell us what end

Achilles meets? That brings into question whether Achilles is really the hero of the story at all or

if it is Hector or one of the other warriors written about. The answer is the poem does not portray

Achilles as a hero but something between a hero and
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There are other characters, such as Aeneas, who have mothers whom are

goddesses, but it appears that Achilles is the only mortal character who can affect the will of the

gods. While it may have always been Zeus’ plan for Achilles to kill Hector, it did seem that

Achilles plea for his honor to be restored altered the events and suffering that occurred in order

to bring these events to pass. No other mortal in the poem seems to have such a potent power

over his fellow man that Achilles does.

Achilles is raised to a level beyond that of even his most heroic peers such as Hector or

Patroclus in mere description. He is often called “god-like Achilles” which portrays him as

beyond the realm of a normal hero in the eyes of heroes. There is also a metaphor for this in

Achilles spear. When Patroclus takes Achilles’ armor he must leave the spear because only

Achilles can bear it. As shown in his own aristeia, Patroclus is a great warrior, so why can he not

wield the spear? The spear is referred to as “the death of heroes” (Book 16 i. 148) and since only

Achilles can wield it and the spear cannot act on its own, Achilles is, therefore, the death
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It is this very aspect of

Achilles that keeps him from being the hero of the poem and actually makes him more than a

hero almost to the level of a God. A reader cannot perceive Achilles as a hero in the poem

because his actions, motives, and abilities seem to lack the human element that is necessary in

creating a hero. Instead the poem portrays Achilles as a force acting upon heroes to bring about

the events predetermined by the gods. Hector can be a hero because he struggled, over came at

times, and suffered a beautiful death. In the poem Achilles is never even wounded, leaving the

reader with an image of false immortality despite his impending doom. Once a character is given

that sense of immortality they cannot be a hero because there is nothing glorious about acting

when one cannot be harmed. The gods are never depicted as heroes. A hero cannot be truly

called a hero until his life is over and all his acts complete because being a hero implies you fight

in the face of unavoidable death and destruction. In this poem Achilles both causes and

represents that destruction, not the

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