Achilles: The Super Yuppie Essay, Research Paper
Achilles: The Super Yuppie
In the beginning of Homer s The Iliad, Achilles is arguing with Agamemnon over a girl. Since Achilles does not get what he wants, he decides to leave the battle that they are in. However, this is no small battle, this is the Trojan War. Achilles action shapes the outcome of the battle, for the next fifteen or so books, with the Greeks losing. One can conclude, after reading The Iliad that Achilles is so self-centered that he kills in battle for glory, not honor; that Achilles is the first yuppie, according to Russell Baker; and that Homer does not like Achilles as much as he seems to like Hector or even other characters in this poem.
Achilles seems to kill for glory and not for honor which is shown through the reasons he decides to leave the battle against Troy. He leaves because Agamemnon does not want to do what he says: Give Chryseis back to her father. Naive as he is, he believes that his word should be law. Then he publicly blames Agmemnon for the destruction that Apollo caused described in lines 1.93-95:
No, it is not for the sake of some vow or hecatomb he blames us, but for the sake of his priest whom Agamemnon dishonoured and would not give him back his daughter nor accept the ransom. (1.93- 1.95)
After doing this, Achilles decides not to fight because he thinks the other soldiers do not believe him to be the greatest warrior of all time. Because he will not gain any glory from fighting, he decides not to fight. Honor is something earned; Achilles believes that Agamemnon has taken away his honor by not listening to him. The opposite is true: Achilles dishonored himself by trying to govern a prize won that was not his but Agamemnon s.
Baker also states that Achilles is the first yuppie. The dictionary definition of a Yuppie is a young middle-class professional person working in a city or a young urban professional . (Oxford English Dictionary) Even though there were very few cities in those time, this definition will still work with Achilles. He was a professional soldier, and a very good one. Baker says, [Achilles] is the yuppie as lean and mean C.E.O. boasting of toughness. This means that Achilles wanted things to be done his way and no other. Achilles believes that the universe revolves around him and that everyone believes that he is the best. Even Homer refers to him often as the godlike Achilles, which reflects on his personality, especially after seeing how the Greek gods acted. Achilles is so vain that he tells one pleading youth he must die without begging to pay for the affronts Troy has done to him – to Achilles! (qtd. from Homer s First Yuppie – Russell Baker)
Homer also seems to play favorites between the characters. Homer always refers to Hector as the Protector of Troy and he says it like people should admire Hector and what he was doing. Whenever referring to Achilles, Homer calls him the godlike Achilles . Baker even goes as far as to call him the monstrous Achilles because he believes that is the impression Homer is trying to give to the listeners/readers. Homer also seems to favor the other characters more than Achilles, depicting them as mature adults and Achilles almost like a spoiled child, having to be told to do certain things and even begged.
Achilles may have been a great warrior but many people do not believe that he was a good person. Russell Baker believes that Achilles was the yuppie of his time. Homer also portrays a dislike for Achilles in his telling of the epic. Achilles can be seen as many different things: a child, a yuppie, a monster, a killing machine, etc. However, Achilles input in the Trojan War, according to Homer, was indeed instrumental in the defeat of Hector and Troy.