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Iliad and Achilles Dearest Friend

By reregolfer May 17, 2013 1200 Words
The Iliad by Reanna Shah
The definition of a tragic hero was a great or virtuous character in a dramatic tragedy that was destined for downfall, suffering, or defeat. A tragic hero was a literary character who made an error of judgment or had a fatal flaw that, combined with fate and external forces, brings on tragedy. A tragic hero is usually good, but makes bad decisions, associated with a tragic flaw that haunts the character throughout the story. In the Iliad, Achilles played a large role in the battle between the Greeks and the Trojans. In the beginning of the book, Achilles’ prize possession was taken from Agamemnon. For much time, he was being childish, lamenting over his stolen lovely haired women. When the Greeks were in a battle with the Trojans, he was still too upset to come and fight with the Greeks. Agamemnon really wanted him to come, so he bribed him with towns, rivers, and more respect, but he still refused. Later on in the story, Achilles’ friend died, Patroclus, so he came back to battle mainly to kill Hector, a Trojan. Though, Achilles was a tragic hero, he still was a great character who will always be remembered. Swift footed Achilles murdered several Trojans, scared off enemies, and killed Hector, an enemy of the Greeks. Achilles still remained a tragic hero because his flaw was to act selfish, mainly come to war to seek revenge, and didn’t return back to battle for the right, heroic reasons.

Achilles was called a tragic hero because his flaw was to be selfish. A selfish person lacked consideration for others and was concerned with their own pleasure. In the Iliad, Achilles mostly cared about himself. For example, Agamemnon stole Achilles’ prize possession. For this reason, Achilles refused to join the war because he was angry with Agamemnon. Achilles stated, “But listen while I tell you exactly how I want things to be: ‘I want you to win me great honor and glory in the eyes of all Greeks, so that they give my lovely women back to me and provide splendid gifts as well (18:115).’” When Achilles’ dearest friend, Patroclus, went to war with his army, Achilles wanted Patroclus to wear his armor because he would win him honor, glory, and some splendid gifts as well. Achilles flaw was to be selfish because he didn’t care about Patroclus as much as he should of; he mainly focused on winning himself glory and honor. Achilles was suffering from his stolen woman because he didn’t come back to battle to help Patroclus in war. Knowing Achilles, he would’ve been the first one to Patroclus’ aid, but instead he chose to weep and sit at home. Achilles’ flaw interrupted him from doing what he should have been doing. He cared too much about a tragic loss that it got in his way of being a “true hero.” Before Patroclus had left for battle, Achilles mentioned to him that he would be in good hands with his army and they should be ready to battle. Achilles was in a state of downfall because he was suffering from loss or defeat, and let his selfish flaw get in his way from being heroic. Achilles was a still a hero, though a tragic hero, who was respected by the Greeks, yet repeatedly made mistakes. His pride, arrogance, and selfish flaw got in his way of his ability to resolve conflicts peacefully. For example, if Achilles tried to settle a fair agreement with Agamemnon that included Achilles fighting in the war in return for his prized possession, it would have been more “hero like.” Achilles’ stubborn personality, risked lives of other Greeks because Achilles was the “hero” and was not doing “his job” correctly.

Achilles was a tragic hero because he was selfish, and mainly came back to war to get revenge. A Trojan, whose name was Hector, killed Achilles’ friend, Patroclus, in battle. Achilles was devastated and wanted to revenge on Hector by coming into the battle. Achilles strong- mindedly said, “Hector, no doubt you imagined, as you stripped Patroclus, that you would be safe. It was I, and I have brought you down (22:332).” Achilles was trying to say, Hector will not get away from what had done, and would do whatever it took to hunt down Hector until he was dead. If Achilles was not a tragic hero, he wouldn’t have let tragedy get in his way, by not joining the battle from the start because he was whimpering over a loss. Also, he would have showed the Greeks what a great hero he was; in defeat, rise to the occasion to help people in need of support. Although he killed many Trojans, and helped out his peers, his main purpose was to murder Hector. This quote goes relates to Achilles being a tragic hero because he was in a time of downfall and needed a reason to get back up.

Achilles was a tragic hero because he was selfish, mainly came back to battle for revenge, and didn’t come back to war for the right, heroic reasons. If Patroclus had never died, Achilles would have still been weeping over his prize possession and be watching many of Greeks die. Bending over Patroclus’ dead body, Achilles said “So then, Patroclus, since I too am going below, but after you, I shall not hold your funeral till I have brought back here the armor and the head of Hector, who slaughtered you in your greatness.” Achilles wouldn’t give up until he brought back Hector and his armor. He would have him killed no matter what circumstances and would even risk his own life to kill Hector. Achilles was a tragic hero because he was in a time of defeat, and suffered from losses that he wanted to end, but he returned for the wrong reasons; mainly to kill Hector because he murdered Patroclus and to let the Trojans get a taste of their own medicine. Also, he was not standing up for his people when he knew they needed help. If Achilles wanted to kill Hector because he had been killing so many of the Greeks and got in the way of winning the battle, it would make him more of a hero, instead a tragic hero.

Swift footed Achilles was considered a tragic hero. He was selfish, came back to battle for revenge, and didn’t come back to war for the right, heroic reasons. If Achilles was a real hero, he would’ve tried to save lives and protect “his country.” The Iliad shows that there doesn’t always have to be great, heroic heroes, there also are tragic ones too. For example, spider – man is a true hero because he helps save lives of people who are in danger and protects “his town” from monsters. Even though he had a very hard life, he still helped people and wanted to make “his town” proud. This was an example of real hero, and the opposite of Achilles in the Iliad. If you compare spider – man to Achilles, they have a lot of similarities, but different approaches to what a real hero was.

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