Achilles: a Hero No More

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In the introduction of the Essential Illiad given by Sheila Murnaghan, Achilles is labeled as "the greatest of the Greek heroes". In classic mythology a hero is a person of great strength and courage celebrated for bold exploits and is often the offspring of a mortal and a god. Achilles was the greatest fighter among the Greeks or Trojans and feared no man in battle. He was also the offspring of a mortal and a god so by classic mythology definition, Achilles was indeed a hero. A hero is defined by the present day Websters Dictionary as: "one who inspires through manners and actions; an individual who leads through personal example and accomplishments requiring bravery, skill, determination, and other admirable qualities." Achilles, in no manner, fits this definition. By contemporary standards, he is instead a pathetic villain. Aside from being a kidnapper, rapist and murderer, Achilles proves to be emotionally weak, selfish, and malicious. Many times throughout the Illiad, Achilles is also referred to as "godlike". The gods of Greek mythology were subject to the same emotions and character flaws as humans, and though privileged to some foresight, the gods had similar mental capacities as humans. What really set the gods apart were their powers (controlling the elements, changing their appearance, etc.), great strength, and immortality. Because of his great strength and apparent invincibility, it is easy to see why Achilles would be called "godlike". In the context, such a reference applies to physical stature and not character. In the Judeo-Christian world, God is all knowing, all powerful, and nothing short of perfect. To a Christian, "godlike" would imply perfection of character and would have nothing to do with ones physical stature, and therefore would not apply to Achilles.

Achilles was beyond emotionally weak. He was a whiner, he had a famous temper, he was spiteful, ungrateful, greedy, unreasonable,...
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