The act of sacrifice is a very important event in literature. Often, it can define and shape a character's life and personality. The ancient texts discussed in class contain many diverse, yet equally meaningful examples of sacrifice. Even though these acts of sacrifice can occur for different reasons, each one has a similar purpose. The characters that perform such sacrifices are required to give up something they love, cherish or own in order to serve a greater purpose. Achilles from The Iliad must sacrifice his physical possessions to appease his gods. Gilgamesh is unwillingly forced to sacrifice his beloved brother. Cain from The Bible also forfeits material possessions, but he also gives up his own integrity, as well as eternal life in his Heaven. These sacrifices appear to differ in the severity of what is given up, but they are actually alike in the way each is used to accomplish certain goals.
Achilles is an excellent example of one who performs sacrifice. In The Iliad, Achilles is a supreme and god-like warrior, but his many character flaws hold him from achieving his full potential. His rampant pride and unharnessed rage overtakes his other good qualities and causes him many hardships. Achilles hopes to reduce these flaws by sacrificing numerous possessions to the gods. He believes, as did most other Greeks of the time, that thee gifts would urge the gods to look favorably upon the givers. Objects, such as cows, pigs, and wine, were cooked in an extremely orderly manner. Any deviations from the proper method of offering the gifts would be seen as a sign of disrespect. Sacrifices are made to obtain or achieve something in the future. In the case of Achilles, his sacrifice was made in hope that the gods would control and possibly eliminate his rage and pride. Achilles' gifts of animals and drink to the gods were viewed by the Ancient Greek public as normal, honorable, and religious. Most citizens made some kind of offering to the gods,...
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