Iliad 21.70-135 (Lykaon supplicates Achilles, Achilles kills him) Consider Achilles’ response to supplication in this passage. How does this compare to his attitude in the extracts from the Iliad in your lecture/tutorial readings?
The cruel rejection by Achilles to the supplication of Lykaon in Book 21 represents a fundamental transformation in the attitude of Achilles. Achilles has become full of anger and self-loathing following the death of Patroclus. Achilles answers Lykaon’s supplication by stating, “I reject this childish plea for mercy, and I will accept no ransom. Until Patroclus died, I often spared suppliants, and sold them abroad; but now all Trojans I catch will die, especially all sons of King Priam!” (Graves 1960 21:99). Achilles blames himself for the death of Patroclus, his wrath is now deeply personal and he is now intensely brutal in combat. Achilles has become a tortured soul overwhelmed by guilt and grief. In Book 1 we witness the wrath of Achilles towards Agamemnon. As 9 years of warfare precede the opening of The Iliad we can only assume (at this point) that the grudge between Achilles and Agamemnon has a long history. We do learn that Achilles considers Agamemnon, “Son of Atreus, most lordly, greediest for gain of all men” (Lattimore 2011 1:120). Achilles believes Agamemnon fights merely for power and riches and that he has no compassion for the countless lives lost or those left behind to mourn. We also learn that Achilles fights for personal glory of which he has obtained as he is much loved by the Achaeans. But Achilles is also fighting for the shared purpose and this shows that whilst Achilles has his own personal objectives he also has a heart. Achilles “cares about the whole army, not only himself and his Myrmidons; he is known for his medical knowledge; he respects the dead; he ransoms or sells prisoners rather than killing them. We certainly know that he is brave and unsparing of his own efforts on behalf of the...
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