Essay about Characteristics of Human Greatness

980 Words Nov 24th, 2005 4 Pages
The Iliad by Homer is about characteristics of human greatness. In this epic poem, characters vie for greatness and the thought of being remembered by all. By encountering many different warriors, kings, gods and goddess', the reader becomes familiar with both vice and virtue. In The Iliad there are many characteristics that could distinguish a warrior. The three most important of these traits are courage, honor, and determination, none of which may be lacking in a person who is ‘great.'
Courage is the most important quality of the three necessary for greatness. Courage is present in a person when they prove it is possible for them to overcome a perceived danger. Achilles displays courage when he is faced with the news of his own
…show more content…
Achilles states that "the same honor waits for the coward and the brave. They both go down to Death, the fighter who shirks, the one who works to exhaustion (p. 262)." Achilles recognizes that the one who works the hardest is the one who will rise in the end, while the coward faces death. Every "soldier wants to tower over the armies, he wants to rule over all, to lord it over all (p. 87)," they want respect and they want it to be known by all. However, being remembered is not only limited to honor. Diomedes states that "the glory goes to him [Agamemnon] if the Argive fighters lay the Trojans low…but immense grief is his if comrades die in droves (p. 159)." A mans honor is acquired through both his possessions and his actions in battle. Honor is a characteristic that must be awarded to a person for some apparent reason. In this time period, honor on the battlefield was the only feat that would ensure his place in history.
Determination is another quality essential to human greatness in the Iliad. Achilles seems to portray this virtue as well. The best warriors are those who are the most determined and understanding of the situation of battle. Even after failure or struggle, a great warrior will persist until he has attained victory. They will return to their ships "clutching some scrap, some pittance that I [they] love, when [they] have fought

Related Documents