Achilles: The Character Of Achilles In The Iliad

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Achilles is a character with a range of emotions. Throughout the Iliad, Achilles’ character did not develop, but rather it unfolded over the course of the war. The epic shows the complexity of Achilles. But he still has flaws, despite his impressive strength, an overwhelming warrior, and knowledge of the gods. Many aspects of Achilles’ character display him as honorable and good. He had respect for the dead and abided by the proper funeral formalities and would spare men in combat and keep them alive as prisoners. This aspect of culture has a heavy emphasis in the epic and helps us notice when he begins to disregard and neglect this culture. Homer wants the audience to witness betrayal and his destructive bereavement breakdown Achilles’ character. …show more content…
However, the death of his closest friend, Patroklos, leads to Achilles’ complete deterioration of character. At that moment his character fully changed. The losses that Achilles encountered affected him severely and it was King Priam that was able to break Achilles’ descent after he desecrates Hektor’s body. It is clear that Achilles’ character has changed throughout the epic as a result of these losses because his earlier actions have him show respect for the dead and always abiding by proper customs. Achilles abided strictly by the warrior culture. Prior to his downward spiral, Achilles had shown involvement and connection with his community. He had a desire to do what is right. When the plague devastated the Achaean army, Achilles adamantly searched for a way to rid them of it. He once showed respect for the dead after combat. The disregard for returning Hektor 's body after their fight shows how much his character had changed. Earlier in the epic Achilles had been mentioned by Hektor’s wife, Andromache, who spoke of the respect that Achilles had for the …show more content…
There was always an emphasis on his gentle nature. Even Zeus, the mightiest god, who had orchestrated Patroklos’ death, acknowledged him as “gentle and strong.”(17:227, Homer) Another god, Athena, called him “glorious Achilles’ faithful friend.” (17:625, Homer) He was a formidable, efficient warrior and a gentle, compassionate human being. Menelaus organized a defense of his body while in combat and the Achaean soldiers fought tirelessly to prevent Patroklos’ corpse from being captured by the Trojans. Menelaus spoke greatly of Patroklos to the soldiers, “Remember poor Patroklos, each of you, His warmth of heart. He had a way of being Kind to all in life. Now destiny and death have overtaken him.” (47, Shay) Upon Patroklos’ death, it was not only Achilles that felt the loss of Patroklos. “Antilokhos, blindsided by the news is momentarily, perhaps dangerously incapacitated by grief.” (47, Shay) Even Briseis, Achilles’ favorite slave, was overcome by grief and broke down over the body of

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