Achilles, Aeneas, and Roland

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Imagine living in a turbulent world, where people lived their day to day lives praying that they would see the next sunrise. That was life for villagers that lived during the times of the ancient Greeks and Romans, as well as during the medieval period when Germanic tribes ruled Europe. To help them get through their very insecure days, people would tell oral stories of great heroes, like those of Achilles, Aeneas, and Roland. Achilles was a Greek war hero who fights in the Trojan War, a ten year long war between Greece and Troy (present day Turkey). Aeneas was an epic hero in ancient Roman folklore. He was a soldier who fought in the Trojan War and after surviving the destruction of Troy, he later founded the city of Rome. Roland was an epic hero of the Franks, a Germanic tribe in present day France. All three of these heroes played vital roles in giving strength and hope to the peoples of their respective cultures. The Illiad was an epic written by a Greek poet named Homer. It takes place in the last days of the Trojan War. Achilles was an integral part of the war. He helped raise the Greek soldiers’ moral, he was an excellent fighter and swordsmen, and he killed Hector, who was the leader of the Trojan forces and son of the King of Troy. It is said that Achilles was half man and half god. He is the offspring of Peleus, King of Thessaly, and the sea nymph Thetis, who had dipped her infant son in the river Styx, thus making him invulnerable except for the hell by which she held him. In the epic, Homer gave Achilles many human characteristics, including revenge, anger, and love. He even gave him many challenges to overcome. In the beginning of the war, he did not fight because of an affront to his honor that angered him. However struck with grief when his dearest friend Patroclus is killed by Hector, he in revenge joins the war. Throughout the Illiad, this male protagonist is on a quest to reconcile selfhood and communal responsibility. After killing...
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