’ Heroism Essay, Research Paper
Achilleus Heroism Thesis: Achilleus is the incarnation of hybris, the arrogance that almost automatically brings retribution and ruin, because he seems to think of himself as above all other mortals. Now they came beside the shelters and ships of the Myrmidons and they found Achilleus delighting his heart in a lyre, clear- sounding, splendidly and carefully wrought, with a bridge of silver upon it, which he won out of spoils when he ruined Eetion s city. Illiad (Book IX, Lines 185-191, Page 203) Achilleus illustrates his arrogance by his vigorous playing of the lute made out of silver that he took from a city he sacked. A true hero wins his battles and moves on without gloating. Achilleus, on the other hand, wants to show his trophy of silver to all his men while he sings songs of glory. But I will speak to you the way it seems best to me: neither do I think the son of Atreus, Agamemnon, will persuade me, nor the rest of the Danaans, since there was no gratitude given for fighting incessantly forever against your enemies. Illiad (Book IX, Lines 314-317, Page 206) Arrogance prevails in Achilleus statement about the lack of thanks for his fights for the Achains. Achilleus assumes that he should be thanked more than other soldiers for his service to the Greeks, when in fact a true hero would expect nothing in return for his good favor. ;let him pick some other Achaian, one who is to his liking and is kinglier than I am. Illiad (Book IX, Lines 391-392, Page 208) Achilleus will not humble himself to Agamemnon for anything. Achilleus arrogance leads himself to believe that he is a higher authority than Agamemnon, even though Agamemnon is the king and Achilleus is a mere soldier. Thesis: Achilleus is a victim of ate, blind folly, who makes a decision that must bring disaster for himself and others because the will of Zeus has pre-determined what will happen in his life.
For my mother Thetis the goddess of the silver feet tells me I carry two sorts of destiny toward the day of my death. Either, if I stay here and fight beside the city of the Trojans, my return home is gone, but my glory is everlasting; but if I return home to the beloved land of my fathers, the excellence of my glory is gone, but there will be a long life left for me, and my end in death will not come to me quickly. Illiad (Book IX, Lines 410-416, Page 209) Achilleus states clearly in this passage that his mother Thetis has already informed him of the two possible outcomes of his life. Achilleus is therefore doomed to a life of ate that will either lead him to much glory or a long life. Fate is the same for a man who holds back, the same if he fights hard. We are all held in a single honour; the brave with the weaklings. A man dies still if he has done nothing, as one who has done much. Illiad (Book IX, Lines 318-320, Page 206) Achilleus believes he is fighting for basically no reason. He thinks that no matter how hard or how much he fights, ate will lead him to the same fate as another man whom hardly fights at all. For there are also the spirits of prayer, the daughters of great Zeus, and they are lame of their feet, and wrinkled, and cast their eyes sidelong, who toil on their way left far behind by the spirit of Ruin: but she, Ruin, is strong and sound on her feet, and therefore far outruns all Prayers, and wins into every country to force men astray; and the Prayers follow as healers after her. If a man venerates these daughters of Zeus as they draw near, such a man they bring great advantage, and hear his entreaty; but if a man shall deny them, and stubbornly with a harsh word refuse, they go to Zeus, son of Kronos, in supplication that Ruin may overtake this man, that he be hurt, and punished. Illiad (Book IX, Lines 502-512, Page 211) Phoinix tells this detailed description of ate to Achillues in order to tell him that he must ought to help the Achaians now, because ate will catch up to Achilleus eventually. This technique is used by Phoinix because it is known by him that Achilleus is aware of the fact that ate will determine his fate.