Achilles Essay Research Paper Before it was

Achilles Essay, Research Paper

Before it was written, The Iliad was a poem told orally by the Greeks. The Iliad

presents modern day readers with information about the Greek society many years ago in

the B.C. time period. This poem portrays the important values of the Greek society

during a heroic age. This heroic age is conveyed by one main character, Achilles. Achilles

represents the tragic Greek hero in The Iliad, tragic because he chose his own death.

Achilles knew (because of his mother Thetis), that he could either lead a long and

insignificant life, or die young but glorious. Achilles chose the latter. Throughout The

Iliad, Achilles went through some significant changes that affected himself, as well as the

Achaeans and Trojans. He began a hero and ended a tragic hero.

The Trojan War is vital to Greek mythology and provides a backdrop for

discussion. Before the war even started, however, it was known by all Trojans and

Achaeans that Achilles was the best fighter. He was the hero of all fighters. In a way this

was bad, and in a way this was good. Achilles was overflowing with pride, which built up

his confidence. Consequently, it was his confidence that brought on his early death.

It all began when Agamemnon stole away Briseis, Achilles woman. To ease the

anger Achilles had for Agamemnon, Thetis asked Zeus to provide honor for her son,

Achilles. Zeus granted her request by promising that the Achaeans would suffer enough

losses to force Agamemnon to come begging for Achilles help.

The first major change in Achilles was caused by his rage toward Agamemnon.

Achilles, the great warrior, allowed his wrath to infest his desire to help his own comrades

in the battle against the Trojans. It was his determination to maintain his pride that led

way to his unwavering stubbornness. Because Achilles withheld himself from battle, the

Achaeans and Trojans suffered many losses. Of the Achaeans, many of the best men

were injured or killed. Odysseus, Diomedes, and Agamemnon were all three vital fighters

for the Achaeans that nearly lost their lives in battle. They were not able to participate in

battle for a number of days. The Trojans experienced similar casualties. Even though

Achilles behavior was not centered around concern for his comrades, the Achaeans never

lost respect for him. They continued to honor him, knowing that he was far stronger than

any other Achaean and that they needed his help

A main message portrayed during the continuous battle that took place during

Achilles absence, was that some people are favored and some are not. Regardless of a

Greek or Trojan s reputation, the stronger fighter was always determined by the gods.

For example, when the Trojans reached the Argive gates, Zeus gave Hector the power to

lift a huge boulder. With this boulder, Hector was able to break open and gain entrance.

He then had access to the Argive ships. The intervention of the gods showed many

parallels to human life during the time Achilles was out of battle, this being one of them.

The intervention of the gods affected everyone, whether they were mortal or immortal,

Trojan or Achaean.

Other parallels included jealousy, pride, and anger. All of these human traits that

the gods reflected, were precisely why Achilles had withdrawn from battle. Jealousy,

pride, and anger were all feelings Achilles possessed as a result of Agamemnon stealing


The second major change in Achilles took place when his friend Patroclus was

killed by Hector. When Agamemnon sent his men with ransom to call Achilles back to

battle, Achilles did not accept. The mere request by Agamemnon s messengers was not

enough to lure him back. Achilles should have accepted Agamemnon s ransom and

returned to fight. Instead, he continued to wallow in his own pride and anger. This

continued rage killed his best friend Patroclus because Achilles was not there to protect


The personal affect that Patroclus death had on Achilles caused even more wrath

than before. As a result, Achilles returned to battle for revenge. This late decision would

have been classified by the Greeks as the second largest mistake possible. Achilles

changed his mind, but he changed it too late. Patroclus was dead. In the end, Achilles

received his long sought glory by killing the Trojan responsible for Patroclus s death.

The killing of Hector by Achilles was a pivotal point in Achilles life of heroism.

He moved from being a hero to that of a tragic hero. That single moment of glory

determined his fate to die an early death. The long period of time in which Achilles

groveled in his own anger laid the foundation of his subsequent tragedy. During that

time, his rage built up little by little until he exploded in anger at his ultimate victim.

Achilles went from a hero, to an enraged hero (when Briseis was stolen), to an even more

enraged hero (when Patroclus died), and finally to a tragic hero (when he killed Hector).

. The Trojan War reached its climax at Hector s demise. Therefore, the intensity

of battle could only diminish. The magnitude of both Achilles and Hector s wrath was

irrevocable, and both the Achaean and Trojan societies suffered great losses. However,

the hearts of each were somewhat put at ease.

In the end, Achilles wrath was eased. After Paris came to take Hector s body

away, Achilles realized that his taking of Hector s life was his final moment of glory.

Since Achilles rage was over, the severity of the battle inevitably dwindled. Thus, the

Achaean and Trojan societies were calmed.


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