Achilles and the Trojan War

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Many people have heard of Achilles, whether in Greek Mythology or when referring to the tendon in their foot. He is well known in the Iliad as the main force for the Achaeans in the Trojan War, dubbed the “swiftest warrior,” “Achilles dear to Zeus”, and “brilliant runner.” However many do not know the story of Achilles when he walks away from the Achaean campaign over a scuffle of war prizes. His action cripples the Achaean army, costing the lives of many. The story of the Trojan War is one where Achilles ultimately leads the Achaeans to Troy and kills Hector outside Priam’s walls. However, it was Patroclus, Achilles’ brother-in-arms, who should be accredited with the Achaean victories and know for his success against the Trojans in the War.
When the Achaean commander, Agamemnon, “graciously” returns his war prize Chryseis to her father in order to stop Apollo’s plague on the Achaean camp, he turns to Apollo’s war prize, Briseis, to compensate for his own loss. This angers Achilles, causing him to march off, declaring, “I [Achilles] would not relax my anger, not till the cries and carnage reached my own ships” (Iliad Book 16 Lines 70-71). Achilles is portrayed as a child who lost his toy, storming away in anger and begging his mother to fix the problem, not as a heroic commander of the Greek army. While it is understandable that Apollo would want his share of war prizes, it is extreme to abandon the crusade while knowing that he is the greatest fighter and a key member in the Achaean success. Without Achilles gone, so too are his men. Furthermore, to plead to his immortal mother, Thetis, to convince Zeus to allow the Trojans to gain ground, is erroneous and outrageous. Being upset with Agamemnon does not justify the loss of Ac...

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...any others could have been avoided. Warriors should fight to protect their brothers in arms, instead of seeking revenge. Killing Hector does not bring Patroclus back to life, but Achilles presence on the battlefield from the beginning could prevent Patroclus’ death. Patroclus should have done more to emphasize the importance of protecting those fighting along side them.
While Achilles is the one who kills Hector and leads the sack of Troy, it is Patroclus’ actions that allowed for these events to occur. Patroclus and his desire to fight for the cause and his country led to the wearing of the armor and halting the Trojan offense. It was his death which drove Achilles to reenter the fray and fight without mercy. Had it not been for Apollo’s intervention, it would have been Patroclus who sacks the city of Troy, not Achilles, dear to Zeus.

Works Cited

Iliad Book 16
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