Self-Interest In The Iliad

1128 Words 5 Pages
In Homer’s Iliad and Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War, those in power did not have the luxury of expressing any form of pity (philotes), as long as they wanted to maintain their statuses in the eyes of others. The focus is always on one’s self-interest, whether it be through the maintenance of pride and honor, as seen in Homer’s Achilles, or for the security of a state’s position of power over others, as demonstrated by Thucydides’ Athenians. Unfortunately, as depicted in both texts, a loss of pity in order to protect one’s self-interest always yields the same fatal result: the demise of the party lacking pity and those around them.
Within Homer’s Iliad, Achilles lives, eats, and breathes war. As a respected warrior, he relies on maintaining heightened levels of glory (kleos) and honor (timê), which usually manifest themselves in physical war prizes (geras). For Achilles, a physical manifestation of high status
…show more content…
Since Achilles basically asked for the Greek army to suffer, he feels personally responsible for the death of Patroclus; yet, instead of learning from his mistakes, Achilles once again reverts to his heartless ways, seeking to destroy all those who dare cross him. All he could think about was “killing, and blood, and men in agony” (Il. 19.226) in an obsession to selfishly satisfy his own personal revenge. This fixation ultimately leads him to participate in the war. He does not join the war in order to help his people—he only joins as he considers himself personally involved after the death of Patroclus. Achilles’ self-interest, this time in the form of physical revenge, once again turns him into a pitiless beast as he works to murder Hector and all other Trojans in his path. Achilles becomes so emotionally distanced that Homer does not even portray him as human anymore, but instead “Like a spirit from hell bent on slaughter” (Il.

Related Documents