Characteristics of Human Greatness

Topics: Iliad, Achilles, Trojan War Pages: 3 (975 words) Published: December 10, 2005
The Iliad by Homer is about characteristics of human greatness. In this epic poem, characters vie for greatness and the thought of being remembered by all. By encountering many different warriors, kings, gods and goddess', the reader becomes familiar with both vice and virtue. In The Iliad there are many characteristics that could distinguish a warrior. The three most important of these traits are courage, honor, and determination, none of which may be lacking in a person who is ‘great.' Courage is the most important quality of the three necessary for greatness. Courage is present in a person when they prove it is possible for them to overcome a perceived danger. Achilles displays courage when he is faced with the news of his own death from his mother Thetis. She states, "You're doomed to a short life, my son, from all you say! For hard on the heals of Hector's death your death must come at once-(p.470)." Yet when Achilles hears of this, he still decides to return to the battlefield and avenge his friend Patroclus' death. This is a courageous gesture by Achilles because at this point he is aware of the danger that lies in going back to the war. A warrior however, would not be courageous without a notion of fear. Achilles knows that "…a man's life breath cannot come back again-no raiders in force, no trading brings it back, once it slips through a man's clenched teeth (p. 265)." Here he shows signs of fear or in the least acknowledgement of a perceived fear in death itself. Remove fear from any soldier and his courage will be questioned. Without fear, there is no need for bravery. In one instance Diomedes notices Glaucus "charging out infront of all the rest with such bravado-daring to face the flying shadow of my spear (p. 199)." Glaucus shows no fear towards Diomedes powerful army, which in this case is not bravery but stupidity. It is important to differentiate courage from a total lack of fear. The ultimate goal of every warrior is to be...
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