Achilles In The Iliad Analysis

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The story of Achilles as it is presented in The Iliad by Homer has many takeaway lessons, from those concerning love to those about forgiveness. However, when it comes to educating the young guardians from Plato’s The Republic, Achilles should not be studied, least of all as a role model. This is the case for several reasons, one being that Achilles’ actions alone do not align with the desired ideals of the guardians, another being that the few things that Achilles does have to offer are often contradicted within the epic, and lastly that the entire culture surrounding the Greeks and Achilles in The Iliad does not match up with that of Socrates’ imagined city. It is among these reasons that learning about Achilles would present a danger to …show more content…
Socrates states that women are to be “wives in common” (457d). This is distinctly not the case when it comes to the protagonists in The Iliad. The dispute between Agamemnon and Achilles – at least on a surface level – is motivated because of a girl. Agamemnon’s decision to take Briseïs from Achilles is, in part, what keeps Achilles from making up with Agamemnon. The Greeks (and the Trojans, for that matter) place great importance on acquiring and keeping women. Reading of such a culture would lead the young guardians to become confused, and perhaps even doubtful of their own way of life. Along with the idea of communal living, Socrates also stresses that the guardians should lead a non-materialistic life (416d-e). Achilles almost manages to illustrate this exchange with Odysseus when he tells him that all the wealth of Troy is not “worth a life” (9.397-398). However, the fact of that matter is that Achilles is rejecting wealth for all the wrong reasons, in all the wrong ways. Achilles is not rejecting materialism – he is rejecting Agamemnon. By doing so, he is also endangering his fellow Greeks, which very much goes against what the guardians are aiming for with the …show more content…
This is said in reference to quarrelling among people in the city, which translates in Achilles’ case to his fellow Greek warriors. Again, the entire conflict between Agamemnon and Achilles opposes this important lesson that needs to be taught to the young guardians. Much of Achilles’ story is occupied by his feud with Agamemnon, and on a larger scale, quarrelling is not effectively discouraged among the Greeks in The Iliad when it comes to most cases. Furthermore, presenting such a culture to the young guardians would be dangerous. In addition to that, even many aspects of war in general in The Iliad contradict the desired values of the guardians. For example, Socrates and Glaucon agree that the guardians of their ideal city would put an end to “plundering corpses” (469e). Achilles himself spends a good deal of time stripping corpses. When Hector tries to negotiate with him to prevent this action from occurring, Achilles flat-out refuses, “Hector, you are mad! Don’t talk to me of covenants!” (22.252). This is another episode in The Iliad in which it is well demonstrated why Achilles would make a terrible role model for the young guardians of Plato’s The Republic. Achilles’ vehement refusal of Hector’s request that the victor of their battle not plunder or violate the loser’s corpse would give the guardians a

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