ReviewEssays.com - Term Papers, Book Reports, Research Papers and College Essays
Search

Achilles: A Hero No More

Essay by   •  December 26, 2010  •  Essay  •  1,054 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,338 Views

Essay Preview: Achilles: A Hero No More

Report this essay
Page 1 of 5

ACHILLES: A HERO NO MORE

In the introduction of the Essential Illiad given by Sheila Murnaghan, Achilles is labeled as "the greatest of the Greek heroes". In classic mythology a hero is a person of great strength and courage celebrated for bold exploits and is often the offspring of a mortal and a god. Achilles was the greatest fighter among the Greeks or Trojans and feared no man in battle. He was also the offspring of a mortal and a god so by classic mythology definition, Achilles was indeed a hero. A hero is defined by the present day Websters Dictionary as: "one who inspires through manners and actions; an individual who leads through personal example and accomplishments requiring bravery, skill, determination, and other admirable qualities." Achilles, in no manner, fits this definition. By contemporary standards, he is instead a pathetic villain. Aside from being a kidnapper, rapist and murderer, Achilles proves to be emotionally weak, selfish, and malicious. Many times throughout the Illiad, Achilles is also referred to as "godlike". The gods of Greek mythology were subject to the same emotions and character flaws as humans, and though privileged to some foresight, the gods had similar mental capacities as humans. What really set the gods apart were their powers (controlling the elements, changing their appearance, etc.), great strength, and immortality. Because of his great strength and apparent invincibility, it is easy to see why Achilles would be called "godlike". In the context, such a reference applies to physical stature and not character. In the Judeo-Christian world, God is all knowing, all powerful, and nothing short of perfect. To a Christian, "godlike" would imply perfection of character and would have nothing to do with ones physical stature, and therefore would not apply to Achilles.

Achilles was beyond emotionally weak. He was a whiner, he had a famous temper, he was spiteful, ungrateful, greedy, unreasonable, selfish, arrogant, and disrespectful. During the initial confrontation with Agamemnon, Achilles slams the sacred golden scepter to the ground and just before doing so, refers to himself as the "best Greek of all". At many other times in the story, Achilles calls himself the "greatest" or the "best" and he never takes advice from the elders or his dearest friends. This shows just how arrogant and disrespectful he really was. At the beginning of the story, Agamemnon takes Briseis from Achilles and not until book 18 does he finally stop crying about it. During that entire time, Achilles' justification for wallowing in self-pity is that he has been "dishonored". This argument becomes null and void when Agamemnon offers lavish compensation for the affront. In addition to returning Briseis, Agamemnon offers Achilles seven unfired tripods, ten gold bars, twenty burnished cauldrons, a dozen horses, seven beautiful women from Lesbos, twenty Trojan women, his daughters' hand in marriage along with a rich dowry, and the ownership of seven populous cities. Any reasonable person would have taken the offer but not prideful, bitter Achilles. Instead he continues on with the same old rhetoric and refuses to fight. As if standing idly by while his countrymen were being killed was not enough, Achilles has his mother call in a favor to Zeus asking him to help the Trojans so that even more Greeks would die during his absence. Not only did he abandon his comrades, he actually prayed for them to die because his pride had been hurt.

In addition to the previously mentioned character

...

...

Download as:   txt (5.9 Kb)   pdf (86.6 Kb)   docx (11.1 Kb)  
Continue for 4 more pages »
Only available on ReviewEssays.com