DIOMEDES CHARACTER ANALYSIS
From the very start of the Iliad, there is a leadership crisis among the Greeks. Who is really filling the role of leadership in the greek army? A leader is more than just a position of authority. A true leader is a hero among his men, a living example and paradigm of virtue. Throughout The Iliad it is Diomedes who consistently fills this role. By his prowess in combat, his fidelity to the the cause, and his piety to the gods, he shows that he is a man to follow. Although Diomedes is not the leader of the greeks, he is the backbone of the army both on and off the battlefield.
In a time of such corporal warfare, physical prowess on the battlefield, arete, is something much esteemed by men. The exhorts of just one man can stimulate the vigor of the entire army. The Ariseia of Diomedes is an excellent example of this arete. Diomedes enters the realm of godlike when Athene, in order to turn the tides of the greek army, infuses Diomedes with divine ability: There to Tydeus' son Diomedes Pallas Athena
granted strength and daring, that he might be conspicuous
among all the Argives and win the glory of valor.1
He uses this divine strength protect the greek ships, and to combat the Trojan onslaught. “Like these the massed battalions of Trojans were scattered / by Tydeus' son, and many as they were could not stand against him” (5.93-94). During his superhuman rampage, Diomedes pushes back the Trojan army and sustains the vigor of the men at his back.
When the various commanders of the greeks get caught in petty problems, it is Diomedes that stands as the voice of reason and remains faithful to the greek's cause. When Agamemnon gives up hope for the war, and proposes that the greeks abandon the battle and return home, Diomedes is the first to admonish him (9.26-28). “Son of Atreus: I will be the first to fight with your folly, / as is my right, lord, in this assembly: then do not be angered” (9.32-33). Here he...
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