Achilles’ Decision on the Embassy
An extremely large problem in the world today and in Homeric times as well, is people not knowing how to set their pride aside and clean up their own messes. In Book IX of The Iliad, we see Agamemnon’s struggle with war and Achilles personal war in his own head. Achilles is not a door mat for Agamemnon, nor should he be; Achilles is a great warrior. Book IX truly illustrates what kind of men they both are. Achilles is right to refuse the embassy in Book IX because he keeps his honor as a man and a warrior intact.
Agamemnon is a man of terrible character and he does not understand what honor is at all. Sending others to do his dirty work is morally wrong. He has shamefully treated Achilles as if he is a second-class citizen, and he always has. Agamemnon barely makes an attempt to win Achilles, the greatest warrior Homeric times have ever known, over. He offers Achilles many women and gifts, including “the one he took away at first, Briseus’ daughter, and he [swears] a solemn, binding oath in the bargain he never mounted her bed” (332-334). Agamemnon offers everything in the book to Achilles begging him to come back, but what really shows his character is that he sent others to propose the deal. Even worse, he says if Achilles accepts he can come back if Achilles would “bow down to [Agamemnon] I am the greater king, I am the elder-born, I claim-the greater man” (192-193).
Achilles is a remarkable warrior and an honorable man. He has been treated as second-rate to Agamemnon for a long time. Agamemnon needs Achilles on his side if he wants any hope of defeating the Trojans and even he admits it through Odysseus in multiple pages of Book IX. If he honestly thought winning the war without Achilles leading the Achaean troops he would not have even bothered sending Odysseus, Ajax, and Phoenix. Agamemnon may be a better king and war strategist than Achilles would be, but he is not the warrior that Achilles is, he could never...
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