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Essay Perdurable Power in a Perpetual War

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Homer’s Iliad can be used as a lens through which to view Rambo: First Blood. The use of the Iliad’s protagonist Achilles as a comparison to Rambo further illuminates the complexities in the character struggle of Rambo. Whereas Achilles has eternal kleos glorified through Homer’s song to gain by taking vengeance and fighting, Rambo will never be seen as an honorable heroic veteran of war. Rambo is an ostracized and disillusioned man who struggles not for honor but for survival in the “civilized” United States just as he did in war torn Vietnam.
In neither Rambo: First Blood, nor the Iliad, are the protagonists compelled into action voluntarily; though by fighting Achilles had more to gain than Rambo. Although, Achilles withdrew from war he was bound to fight for several reason. He had an oath to Menelaus to rescue Helen. He wished for vengeance against the incompetent leader Agamemnon who was responsible for stealing Achilles geras, Briseis. Agamemnon action of taking a geras he did not earn effectively invalidated the entire cultural system of winning time, honor. The final straw that compelled Achilles to fight was the death of his beloved comrade Patrokles. Achilles fought for a personal vengeance against the Trojans. The greatest of the Trojan soldiers and closest match to Achilles was Hektor and thus Hektor became Achilles target. Even as a reluctant fighter Achilles by taking action would receive kleos, eternal glory though song. The price of Achilles kleos, would not be small. Achilles’ fate was decided by his action towards war, as he was destined to live either a long life with no kleos, or a short life with infinite kleos and time.
Whereas Rambo is displayed as reluctant fighter only engaging when others have dr...


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... the Vietnam War was a cold war, in the Iliad, all the men of Greece held an oath to fight. There could be glory won in the Trojan War, but there was only death and destruction to be “gained” in the Vietnam War. After the homecoming from Vietnam the soldiers including Rambo, were spit upon and regarded with disgust. The soldiers did not hold the same honor you would have expected from the homecoming in the Iliad. The differences in the outcomes of their individual war’s, both physical and psychological, effect how the men act during the war. Rambo and Achilles are both victims of war each losing beloved comrades and both overtaken by menus, a divine wrath usually exclusive to the gods. Their menus, is a result of being continuously pushed to the edge. Though Rambo’s and Achilles’ struggles are similar, their dividing destinies define the motivations of each man.




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