Theme Of Honour In The Iliad

1325 Words 6 Pages
The issue I would like to address is the relationship between honour and tragedy demonstrated in The Iliad. Agamemnon and Achilles are prime examples in demonstrating that the urge to attain honour can lead to many tragic situations. Their rivalry arises when Agamemnon must return his war prize, Chryseis, and in compensation he demands Briseis from Achilles. In The Iliad, honour seems to be shifted from one person to the next rather than being shared. Thus in regards to the initial incident between both men, Agamemnon tries to regain his dignity by demanding Briseis while Achilles attempts to retain his control of supremacy over him by trying to keep her. Since this incident, the absence of Achilles and the Myrmidons have lead to a disadvantage in the battlefield and therefore unnecessary Achaian casualties. In book nine, Agamemnon had the opportunity to give back Briseis to …show more content…
Agamemnon believes that since he is the “[…] only among the Argives [that loses his prize]”(1.119) he deserves to be compensated for his loss. While Achilles believes that “[…] it is unbecoming for the people to call back things once given.” (1.126) In both cases they have a clear selfish motivation to attain honour and since it requires another man to suffer in order to fulfill their own desire, this leads to a continuing rivalry. As Agamemnon takes Briseis and in turn Achilles’ dishonour by doing so, this results in Achilles refusing to participate in the war thus the Greeks lose of one of their greatest warriors. The absence of Achilles also leads to the loss of all the Myrmidon soldiers. This gives a major advantage to the Trojans, arguably resulting in more Achaian casualties. Therefore the initial conflict between Agamemnon and Achilles sourcing from the desire for honour leads to tragically jeopardizing the Achaian efforts in the

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