The Iliad Essay
By permitting his beloved friend Patroklos, whom he knows to be a lesser warrior than himself, to reenter the battle, Achilleus is consequently responsible for the death of this gentle warrior.
However, according to a widely accepted theory, Achilleus feels no guilt, as this Homeric society is not a guilt-culture, but rather a shame-culture in which man does not consider himself responsible for his own behavior. Shame-cultures attribute human imperfection to external causes, such as failure to make proper sacrifices, or accidentally slighting the gods in some other way. These heroes do not yet understand that character is fate, and they project onto external forces whatever ills happen to them. Guilt and a sense of sin (a word not in the Homeric vocabulary) develop as societies grow older and men replace gods as the instruments of cause and effect.
But Achilleus is undoubtedly displaying all the signs of guilt in his behavior after the death of Patroklos, and he does feel responsible. Perhaps the most reasonable attitude to take is that shame-cultures and guilt-cultures are not mutually exclusive, and that it is possible for a Homeric hero, as well as for a contemporary person, to feel both shame and