In Homer’s epic “The Iliad” the main character, Achilles, is not really the typical run of the mill hero. Even though he is a great warrior he doesn’t come off as one in the epic. His rage constantly comes up when his feelings get hurt or someone insults him. Because of this he stops fighting with his own people all because he has been offended by his commander, Agamemnon. It is not till after his friend gets killed in battle that he re-enters the war, only again because of his rage has overtaken him. This rage continues on after he avenges his friend’s death but his anger is finally resolved when Hector’s father Priam comes asking for his dead son’s body. Even though Achilles was a very swift tempered man, in the end he did finally show some sympathy for another.
In the beginning of the epic Achilles was not in the battle because of his anger. As Fenno (2008) stated that Athena urged him to not go into battle while he was angry against Agamemnon (para. 6). Because he felt slighted by Agamenon he just sat by the ships for most of the epic. Lombardo (2009) also stated that just to spite his commander he withdrew from battle due to his anger (p. 1790). Again one can see that his anger was the root cause of why he did not enter into battle.
After finding out that Achilles’ friend, Patroclus, was killed in battle his rage again then took over and he entered the battle. Fenno (2008) quoted that “Hector will not cease from fighting until such time as Achilles rouses himself on the day when battle rages around a slain Patroclus” (para.7). This shows the rage that Achilles brought up inside of him due to his fallen friend. Lombardo (2009) also stated that because of Achilles’ wrath and withdrawal from entering into battle, caused a heavy consequence upon the Achaeans but more so upon Achilles himself (p. 170). Here you can see how he probably felt guilty of his friends’ death in battle and how this rage was a way to make amends....
References: Lombardo, S. (2009). The Iliad. In S. Lawell and M. Mack (Ed.), The Norton anthology of American literature (2nd ed.). New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
Fenno, J. (2008). The wrath and vengeance of swift-footed aeneas in iliad 13. Phoenix, 62(1), 145-161,241. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/232012812?accountid=34741
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