Achilles, Warrior Hero
“Oh, brave Achilles” is a common refrain throughout the first book as Agamemnon speaks to Achilles. From the beginning, the audience is led to believe that Achilles is a brave warrior, especially since he appears to be so revered from the way that Agamemnon speaks to him. The question remains, is Achilles meant to be a hero for all time or is he nothing but a glorified savage? As we begin our journey through the Iliad, Homer would have the audience see Achilles as a warrior, no doubt, but through to the end, Achilles has succumbed to his rage and proves to have lost his heroic status as Homer completes the Iliad. Achilles embodies and challenges both the Greek concept of arete or excellence as a warrior hero. The definition of arete is more specifically the idea of living up to one’s full potential or fulfilling their purpose or function in life (Arete). Achilles does hold many qualities that would deem him heroic such as incredible strength and a close relationship with the Greek gods. He proves himself to be the strongest and most powerful man in the Achaean army, but what he has in strength, he lacks in integrity, which is ultimately the cause of his perceived downfall as he instead becomes laden with pride and rage. Upon beginning the Iliad, within the first five pages, it is clear that Agamemnon has such a reverence for Achilles. He even goes so far as to refer to Achilles as “godlike,” conjuring an image of a man that seems impermeable as the gods were seen (Caldcleugh, 13). This paints Achilles in such a light that he does seem to be heroic, especially since Agamemnon does not show anything but respect towards Achilles. The mere idea of a king showing respect and awe to another man that is not of royal stature, but a man of battle, brings the audience to believe that Achilles is aligned with the ranks of heroes. As the Iliad continues, however, the impressive view...
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