analytical Essay
1317 words
1317 words

Iliad Achilles’ Anger and Unreconciliation: Reassessing the Concepts of Mortality and Honor The subject of Homer’s epic poem, the Iliad, is very clearly stated--it is “the rage of Peleus’ son Achilles.” The reader remains continually aware of the extent of Achilles’ rage, yet is never told the reason why Achilles remains angry and unreconciled. There is no definitive answer to this question. Achilles is not a static character. He is constantly changing; thus the question of why he remains angry solicits different answers at various stages throughout the poem. To find an answer, the reader must carefully examine Achilles’ ever-changing dilemma involving the concepts of mortality and honor. At its simplest, Achilles’ dilemma is that if he goes to war, he will die. But he will die with glory. Achilles’ true nature is that of a warrior. The son of Peleus must fight. When he denounces Agamemnon and the Achaeans, he does not go home. His ship is last in line, near Troy. Subconsciously, he has already made the choice of accepting a short life filled with glory. Subconsciously, he wants to go back to war. He needs to. However, he also needs to insure his possession of glory and honor. But what kind of glory, what kind of honor? He already possesses the honor of the gods. He says, “my honor lies in the great decree of Zeus…” (IX.741.p.272). By book IX, material wealth is no longer what Achilles wants. He spurns Agamemnon’s offers. The typical mortal concepts of heroism no longer concern him; his ideals differ from those of his peers. Phoenix’s Meleager is no example to him. However, at this point Achilles still does not know what he wants. Pride and stubbornness still supplement his rage, but now his anger appears to be a manifestation of his fear and confusion—“Stop confusing my fixed resolve with this…” (IX.745-746.p.272). Achilles knows that he wants honor and glory, but in what form? What Achilles does know, and what he must deal with, is the fact that his life will be short if he chooses to have honor and glory. Thus, the choices he makes concerning his honor are crucial. At this point his life is riding on the decision he makes. It is inevitable that Achilles will choose door #2--to go to war, live a short life, and have much glory.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes the subject of homer's epic poem, the iliad, as "the rage of peleus' son achilles." there is no definitive answer to this question.
  • Analyzes how achilles' true nature is that of a warrior. he denounces agamemnon and the achaeans and wants to go back to war.
  • Opines that achilles must deal with the fact that his life will be short if he chooses to have honor and glory.
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