Iliad: Achilles Hero Essay

1604 Words Oct 20th, 2010 7 Pages
Mitchell Williams

TA: Kevin Lord

HIST 1010

Paper I: The Iliad and the World of the Ancient Greeks

To have the utmost strength and courage in times of adversity and despair is to possess the Greek ideal of arête. This is a notion of excellence ultimately connected with the fulfillment of purpose. In Homers epic, The Iliad, Achilles embodies the arête trait very well. Achilles is referred to as strong, swift and god like, he is the great runner and most powerful warrior of the Achaeans. Homer introduces his subject with the first word, in the first sentence, “Rage—Goddess, sing the rage of Peleus’ son Achilles, 
murderous, doomed, that cost the Achaeans countless losses,
hurling down to the House of Death so many sturdy souls,
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He is promised if he goes back home he will have gifts of cattle, stallions and fat sheep. He could live a nice, relaxing, wealthy life and he decides to take that path. Through this decision he has challenged the ideal of arête. He has turned his back on his army and he had prayed to his mother the sea-nymph Thetis, to ask Zeus, king of the gods, to punish the Achaeans. Zeus in return convinces Agamemnon that he can take over Troy and he takes his men to do so. Zeus has lead him into trouble and Achilles abandoned the army. He is not fulfilling his purpose and is not living up to his potential of being this almighty warrior now. Achilles has chosen a path that does not lead to fighting till death. However he is now challenging the arête and the voice of a Greek, he is showing there is more to this life than just blood and warfare. This is convincing because of the fact that such an avid warrior can branch out of warfare and do this. There is a life out there where you can practice arête without warfare. In addition Achilles is branching out but isn’t portraying heroism until his sense of pride kicks in yet again. Achilles is tested a second time when the Trojan War starts to get real heavy. Patroclus has an idea of taking Achilles armor and scaring the Trojans by posing as Achilles. Patroclus proposes to Achilles, "Give me your armor to put on your shoulders;
The Trojans might suppose I was you,
Hold back, and give the

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