Achilles: A Character Study
The Iliad is the famous epic poem written by Homer. While it depicts the ruthless war of Troy, the actual war itself serves as the backdrop used to propel the story of Achilles forward. As the central character of The Iliad, it is his story that is the main focus of the war. Homer presents the story of a man who transforms from a fiercely savage warrior in the beginning to a more mature, sympathetic man by the end of the poem.
Homer begins his story by presenting its readers with the central theme of the poem: Achilles' Rage.
Rage-Goddess, sing the rage of Peleus' son Achilles,
murderous, doomed, that cost the Acheans countless losses,
hurling down to the House of Death so many sturdy souls,
great fighters' souls, buy made their bodies carrion,
feasts for the dogs and birds,
and the will of Zeus was moving toward its end.
Begin, Muse, when the two first broke and clashed,
Agamemnon lord of men and brilliant Achilles (1. 1-8).
These first eight lines of The Iliad introduce the man that is Achilles and foreshadow what will ultimately become of him. Here, Homer provides a brief synopsis of things to come in this ancient epic poem. Through this introduction, readers know there will be consequences to Achilles' actions, which are linked to the gods' will, and are given an important point in time when two of the poem's main characters, Agamemnon and Achilles, begin their feud. The childish feud, which begins after Agamemnon steals Achilles' prized possession, Briseis, illustrates Achilles immaturity. He runs to his mother, Thetis, and asks her to have Zeus, the god of gods, return a favor owed to her by making the Trojans start winning the war. This is done in much...