Essay about Achilles' Influence and Morality in "The Iliad"

Essay about Achilles' Influence and Morality in "The Iliad"

Length: 1230 words (3.5 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

From the first few lines of the Iliad, Achilles’ influence is evident; the poet describes “…Achilles’ rage, / Black and murderous, that cost the Greeks / Incalculable pain, pitched countless souls / Of heroes into Hades’ dark, / And left their bodies to rot as feats” (1.1-5). The extremity of the chaos described is suggestive of the level of power only a god would have, which immediately distinguishes Achilles from ordinary mortals. In the first book alone, Achilles is visited by Hera, Athena, and Thetis, and through Thetis is able to bring a message to Zeus himself, who respects his honor and grants his prayer. Epithets set Achilles apart: he is “godlike Achilles,” the “beloved of Zeus,” and the Greeks’ “most formidable hero” (1.8, 82, 156). From his superhuman strength in battle to his overwhelmingly influential emotions, Achilles is essentially a god, except for one vital quality: he is mortal.
Achilles is constantly anticipating his own death, for he knows he must choose between two fates: “My mother Thetis ... / Tells me two fates sweep me on to my death. / If I stay here and fight, I’ll never return home, / But my glory will be undying forever. / If I return home to my dear fatherland / My glory is lost but my life will be long” (9.423,424-28). Not only is Achilles mortal, but he is forced to perpetually dwell on his own mortality and try to make sense of it, since he is ultimately granted the power to choose his own death. This choice is a contradiction: determining fate is a godly ability, but death is solely experienced by mortals.
Achilles’ impending death is his defining characteristic, the fatal flaw that separates him from both the gods and the humans. He recognizes his tremendous strength and his resulta...


... middle of paper ...


...melus / Something else from my hut, I will do so’” (23.572-73,575-76). With his godly rage calmed, Achilles naturally slips into the character of a respected leader. His identity seems to finally settle into that of a leader among men, relating to his peers while remaining distinguished. The peaceful, admirable Achilles that surfaces at last is perhaps the most tragic identity of the poem. For Achilles has already chosen his fate by killing Hector, as prophesized earlier by Thetis: “Hector’s death means yours” (18.101). In an ironic twist of cruel fate, Achilles adopts the role of diplomatic leader – the role he could have chosen if he had returned home – immediately after he chooses the alternate fate. It is the death of Hector that returns him to a humane state; it is the death of Hector that eliminates all options, leaving only an inevitable imminent death.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Free Essays - Achilles' Moral Dilemma in Homer's Iliad

- Achilles' Moral Dilemma in Homer's Iliad The question "was Achilles' anger justified" brings up issues that seem to have little or no relevance to the war. In time of war I would expect the leaders to prioritize the groups interest for the sake of unity and cooperation rather than being entrenched in achieving their own personal goals. But my expectations are those of a modern day literature student, I'm inclined to think that the Greeks who first read this epic valued different things than myself....   [tags: Iliad essays]

Free Essays
532 words (1.5 pages)

Gilgamesh Morality Essay

- The Epic of Gilgamesh, the Iliad, and Oedipus Rex all center on morality in terms of each character’s social behavior from the beginning to the end of the story. Gilgamesh, Achilles, and Oedipus are three central characters that embody strong qualities of strength, however carry different experiences of morality. Furthermore, all three characters hold different moral codes that are dependent on their ability to resolve the unique situations that they are in. Nevertheless, morality has ultimately impacted the character’s perception of their role in society in terms of whether or not their actions benefit someone or something....   [tags: Morality, Greek mythology, Iliad]

Strong Essays
1507 words (4.3 pages)

The Role of the Gods in Homer's The Iliad Essay

- The Role of the Gods in Homer's The Iliad "We everlasting gods....Ah what chilling blows we suffer-thanks to our own conflicting wills-whenever we show these mortal men some kindness." This exert clearly states what kind of authority Homer has bestowed on his Gods. John Porter said," their constant interference in the lives of the mortals, which seems to cast them in the role of malicious puppeteers, while reducing Homer's heroes to mere pawns in a selfish and often rather petty divine game of one-upmanship." I found it to be quite disturbing imagining these characters fighting in such a mercilous war, giving every ounce of strength they had, and in an instance, all of their efforts could...   [tags: Iliad essays]

Strong Essays
536 words (1.5 pages)

Achilles ' The Iliad Of Homer Essay

- At its core, the epic poem, The Iliad of Homer, is a story about a hero’s rage and how it affects the war that is taking place around him. This hero is Achilles and he shapes the epic through both his actions and inactions during the Trojan War. Achilles is the most powerful warrior among the Achaians and this is shown during his battles. In fact, his power becomes so great at times that he abuses it and wreaks havoc unjustly. This is the case with Achilles’s murder and subsequent treatment of the likewise powerful warrior Hector....   [tags: Trojan War, Iliad, Achilles, Hector]

Strong Essays
1672 words (4.8 pages)

Essay on The Iliad : The Rage Of Achilles

- Many people know that the “second name” of The Iliad is “The Rage of Achilles”. This is because Homer wrote The Iliad in a way that it focuses mostly on Achilles and all his decisions rather than any other character. His actions, and the consequences of all the said actions, are the overall topic for this great epic. The Iliad can be accurately described as a measurement of how much Achilles’s wrath affects the destines of the many warriors who fought and died in the Trojan War (Champagne 2). After reading this great epic twice, I have decided that a better “second name” for The Iliad could be “The Tragedy of Hector”, seeing as how the Trojan leader suffered the most, and was, in my opinion,...   [tags: Trojan War, Iliad, Achilles, Helen]

Strong Essays
1495 words (4.3 pages)

Essay on The Iliad : Achilles ' Faults

- The Iliad: Achilles’ Faults The Iliad, is one of Homer’s greatest novels ever written and is considered the oldest work in the western world is still being read in today’s age. The Iliad was written in 750 B.C. and is a tragedy about the Trojan War in 1150 B.C. The war is between the Trojans and the Greeks. Even the Gods have a role in the war too. “Homer was a Greek epic poet that flourished in 750 B.C. (“Homer”). Being a genius in his time, Homer was skillfully able to write about the events that take place and create depth in his writing....   [tags: Achilles, Iliad, Trojan War, Greek mythology]

Strong Essays
1423 words (4.1 pages)

The Iliad, By Hector And Achilles Essay

- 1. In the Iliad, both Hector and Achilles show heroic stature. Achilles was exalted in Greece because of his furious fight skills and was assisted by Athena with killing Hector. Hector was the Trojans best fighter and lacked the strength that Achilles had. Gods played a key role in the deciding factor between the Trojans and the Greeks. Achilles mother Thetis talked to Zeus to persuade him to allow the Trojans to have the upper hand in the war during the suffering Achilles faced due to losing his war prize since to Agamemnon had to sacrifice his war prize back to Chryses (one of the many revered priest of Apollo)....   [tags: Iliad, Achilles, Trojan War, Greek mythology]

Strong Essays
717 words (2 pages)

Achilles Anger And Its Effects On The Iliad Essay

- Achilles anger was a predominant theme in the Iliad. It led to Patrokolos, death, Hektor’s death and a great many other Trojan deaths. Achilles was a very powerful Greek warrior, he had many faults but one of his most prominent was his uncontrollable anger. Multiple times throughout the Iliad his anger had for reaching effects on the war and people around him. These effects were not usually favorable to anyone. There are three main occurrences that led Achilles’ anger down devastating paths. The first was when Agamemnon took Achilles’ girlfriend....   [tags: Trojan War, Iliad, Achilles, Paris]

Strong Essays
1005 words (2.9 pages)

Chryseis And Achilles : Loss And Loss In The Iliad Essay

- Not every time that you win you fully win you may still lose some. When you lose there may still be something to be won or accomplishment to complete. When you win you typically feel accomplished and a sense of fulfillment, but when you win you may lose respect, honor, friendships, or even a sense of purpose. When one loses they in theory have won something even if it’s not what you may have intended to win. When you lose you may have obtained a life lesson, a better way of accomplishing such task, or possibly even a new goal or item to strive for....   [tags: Iliad, Achilles, Hector, Patroclus, Troy, Priam]

Strong Essays
1281 words (3.7 pages)

Essay on Achilles, By Homer 's Classic, The Iliad

- Humans inherently change and evolve, rather it is for better or for worse. Such an obvious theme in human existence is unsurprisingly evident in many works of literature, in which protagonists are prone to development and complex arcs. However, many may argue that certain characters in prose or poetry, in fact, do not undergo this aforementioned transformation and rather stay stagnant, never evolving past their current form. For instance, such debate surrounds Achilles, the famous Greek hero, who is one of the main characters in Homer’s classic, The Iliad....   [tags: Iliad, Achilles, Trojan War, Greek mythology]

Strong Essays
1283 words (3.7 pages)