Achilles, from Homer’s The Iliad, is a tragic hero. Achilles’s quick rage coincides with a key characteristic of a tragic hero. Agamemnon, the king of Mycenae takes Briseis, Achilles’s prize, or woman. This act is an insult to him, as it is betraying Agamemnon as a more powerful figure, which makes Achilles seem like less of a man. Achilles is enraged by this act of self-righteousness; Homer writes, “Should he draw sharp sword at his hip, thrust though the ranks and kill Agamemnon now? - or check his rage and beat his own fury down?” (371) Achilles’s rage, or hamartia, is very apparent within his thoughts. Just being told that his prize was taken brought out a monstrous rage in him, a rage that contemplated killing Agamemnon because it made Achilles seem helpless. His arrogant temper, his tragic flaw, per Aristotle’s Poetics, can classify him as a tragic hero. Another factor of a tragic heroism that is present in Achilles is his noble stature. His mother, the sea goddess Thetis, has gone to Olympia on the behalf of Achilles to persuade Zeus, the king of the gods, to help the Trojans defeat the Achaeans. Achilles’s demigod standing is revealed when Homer writes, ...
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...status. Sophocles’s titular character Oedipus is also a tragic hero because of his hamartia that causes his undeserved downfall. These two Grecian literary legends can be defined as Aristotelian heroes. Though Aristotle’s ideas of tragic heroism have been disputed and expanded, his notion of tragic heroism has left its mark some of the world’s most renowned literature.
Aristotle. Poetics. Tans. S.H. Butcher. The Internet Classics Archive. Web Atomic and Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, 13 Sept. 2007. 4 Nov. 2008
Calvin Coolidge. 2001-2013 brainyquote.com. November 7, 2012
Homer. The Iliad. Prentice Hall Literature: World Masterpieces. Boston: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2007. Print.
Sophocles. Oedipus the King. Prentice Hall Literature: World Masterpieces. Boston: Pearson Prentice Hall,
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