Achilles: The Tragic Hero Essay

Achilles: The Tragic Hero Essay

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The Iliad, the Greek epic documented by Homer that describes the battles and events of the ten year siege on Troy by the Greek army. Both Trojans and Greeks had their fair share of heroes and warriors, but none could match the skill and strength of the swift runner, Achilles. Achilles had the attributes of a perfect warrior with his god-like speed and combat abilities. However, even though he was Greek’s greatest warrior, he still possessed several flaws that made him fit the role of the Tragic Hero impeccably. Defined by Aristotle, a Tragic Hero is someone who possesses a high status of nobility and greatness, but must have imperfections so that mere mortals cannot relate to the hero. Lastly, the Tragic Hero’s downfall must be partially their own fault through personal choice rather than by an evil act, while also appearing to be not entirely deserved of their unfortunate fate. Achilles is a true Tragic Hero because he withholds all of these traits. Achilles proves to be a good man that puts his loved ones first, reveals his tragic flaws of pride and anger, shows dynamic qualities as a character when his flaws are challenged, and has a moment of clarity at the end of his rage. Achilles truly exemplifies the qualities of a Tragic Hero.
Achilles is introduced into The Iliad getting into a debacle with the leader of the Greek army, Agamemnon, during the last year of the Trojan War. Achilles starts a quarrel with Agamemnon because he has demanded possession of Achilles’ woman, Briseis, in consolation for having to give up his woman, Chryseis, so that the gods will end their plague upon the Greek soldiers. Achilles does all he can to get his loved one back, but he knows that nothing will waver Agamemnon’s decision. This is when Achil...


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...les obtains the flaws of a Tragic Hero with his anger and pride issues. The fact that he won’t fight for Agamemnon because he stole his woman shows that his pride was hurt and when Achilles fights in a pure wrath upon hearing about Patroclus’s fate shows his flaw of anger. The transition from having to overcome his hurt pride after hearing about Patroclus’s death reveals his adaptability as a character with his change in behavior from being passive at the Achaean ships to violent in war. Lastly, Achilles solidifies his position as a Tragic Hero when he finds his moment of clarity with King Priam as he gives the body of the fallen Hector back in an act to finalize and end all conflicts Achilles and Troy. Achilles undoubtably symbolizes Aristotle’s definition of the Tragic Hero.



Works Cited

Homerus, and Robert Fagles. The Iliad. New York, N.Y: Penguin, 1998. Print.

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