A Comparative Analysis of Odysseus and Achilles
The Trojan War was more than a series of battles between opposing forces, it was the climax of an age of heroes. The retrieval of Helen brought together many of the mythological characters of that time onto a single stage. Of the thousands of brave men who fought at Ilion, two men stood above the masses, sharing the title of hero. They were born in the line of those on Mt. Olympus, favored by the gods. Excelling in courage and skill, adored by those who followed them into battle, the actions of Achilles and Odysseus achieved a high place in Greek mythology. Through analysis we see that Odysseus and Achilles were close variations upon the same theme.
The similarities between Odysseus and Achilles begin as they set sail for Ilion. Receiving prophecies of the war leading to unfavorable circumstances, both men attempted to avoid recruitment. Prior to the Trojan War an oracular prophecy foretold of Odysseus being delayed greatly in returning home if he chose to participate. Odysseus feigns madness to avoid the war to no avail. Achilles faces similar circumstances. Thetis, Achilles’ mother, had previously received a prophecy that he would either live a short and glorious life or a long uneventful life. Fearing that the Trojan War would lead him to glory, and thus death, she tried unsuccessfully to hide him. Glory, the very thing that Thetis sought to avoid, eventually pulled Achilles into battle. Kleos is commonly translated as “fame” or “glory,” but these words do not encompass its true meaning. Kleos plays an enduring role in the interactions of Greek patriarchs; it transcends an individual and is passed on to successive generations. Having fathers of fame, both Odysseus and Achilles feel that they must maintain the kleos of their lines and build upon it. Achilles and Odysseus share a similar lineage. Numerous times Odysseus is refered to as “Son of Laertes in the line of Zeus….” Achilles achieves is semi-divine...
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