Essay about Kleos in the Iliad

1053 Words Jun 6th, 2010 5 Pages
Kleos in the Iliad

When we consider the Hero in ancient Greek culture, we must forget our notion of what a hero is. The ancient Greek concept of a hero was different from our own culture's. The motivation for any Homeric Greek is glory, or "Kleos", that is to be honored and respected among their people. Not only does kleos imply being honored and respected, it literally means ‘to be heard.’ Achieving kleos entails that your tale and ultimately you will live on forever. Kleos is essential to the Greeks and life would not be worth living without it. When a warrior or hero is advised to avoid risking their life in battle it almost drives them even further towards the deed. It is better to be killed in action rather than to live
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568 – 574). The Greek’s ultimate goal was to achieve immortality despite being mortals. Hector tries to achieve this by fighting for his kleos, and by praying that his son will achieve his very own kleos as well.

While Hector fights to protect his country so that he and his son may one day achieve kleos, Achilles is much more selfish. He fights only to quell his own rage. While a Greek’s ultimate goal was to achieve immortality, Achilles postpones this quest because of Agamemnon. The Iliad starts with the word ‘menin’ which means cosmic rage. This cosmic rage is so powerful that even the gods themselves feel it. This menin is so powerful that it even overpowers Achilles’ desire for his kleos. Despite his rage, Achilles still acknowledges kleos; he states “that two fates bear me on to the day of death. If I hold out here and I lay siege to Troy, my journey home is gone, but my glory never dies…” (Iliad IX. 500-502). Achilles’ rage for Agamemnon is only surpassed by his rage when Patroclus is killed by Hector. Achilles’ rage goes from being directed from a Greek to the Trojans. Through this change in rage, Achilles returns to battle and ultimately reclaims his kleos. Achilles has to choose between nostos (homecoming) and kleos. When Achilles first experiences menin, he chooses a nostos. After the shift in his menin, he shifts from choosing a nostos to

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