Why Was Arête (‘Virtue’) an Important Theme in Homer's Iliad?

Topics: Iliad, Achilles, Trojan War Pages: 4 (1234 words) Published: January 6, 2011
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Why was arête (‘virtue’) an important theme in Homer’s Iliad? Select two characters with which to make your points.

Virtue or arête was an important quality in Homeric society and one which features very heavily in the Iliad. Arête is achieved by one’s actions, generally in battle and is a combination of qualities such as courage, honour (‘time’) and sacrifice.([good] Homeric heroes possessed these qualities and they were recognised by the audience of the epics.( Outwardly, the heroes of the Iliad and the ones who possess arête in the greatest quantities are Achilles and Hector, equal heroes on each side of the Trojan war. In equal measure, although slightly less predominantly, is the arête displayed by Nestor and Priam, King of Troy.(

Achilles was born to an immortal goddess and his fate determined that his was to be a short, albeit glorious life. He had been warned that the war in Troy would spell his doom; however, seeking glory and honour the mighty Achilles went to war and was a force to be reckoned with. His honour is exhibited best by two main instances in this poem: the first, in regards to the war itself. [I think that you are confusing ‘honour/time’ with ‘arete’ ]

Achilles had been offended by Agamemnon who had taken Achilles’ prize (the slave-girl, Briseis) from him; this had offended Achilles because, in a sense, by taking Briseis Agamemnon had also taken [change to ‘insulted’] his honour.([good] In retaliation for this attack on his honour, Achilles refused to rejoin the war for the Greek army. [you could indicate the extent of Achilles’ anger by referring to ‘Iliad’1.407-412 where he begs his mother to ask Zeus to help the Trojans against the Greeks because of Agamemnon’s actions] However, when Achilles saw that the Trojans were gaining headway in the war and gaining ground, he felt that a suitable substitute would be to allow his comrade, Patroclus to don his armour and rejoin the fight to give the Greeks the...

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