Achilles is no hero: "The Iliad" by Homer

Essay by natashiacoppleCollege, Undergraduate March 2007

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Achilles would not have made a very popular quarterback in today’s society. As the ancient Greeks defined heroism, he fits the title of ‘Hero’ perfectly. He is the son of a goddess, the best and most capable warrior in the entire Achaean army, and has conquered many places. However, the actions of Achilles in "The Iliad" by Homer, or rather the inactions, would have ue hero might focus on conquests he has yet to do, where as Achilles seems obsesseerased him from common knowledge, if not opened him to public ridicule in modern times. According to society’s general standards, a hero is someone who is not simply strong and brave, but someone who is humble, self-sacrificing, and capable of many other things, especially forgiveness. Achilles fails to display these essential characteristics in the Iliad. His lack of compassion and stubborn refusal to ignore his wounded pride cancel out his god-given attributes and do not earn him the title of ‘Hero’.

Homer makes it clear from the beginning of the Iliad that Achilles is a matured warrior who has already won renown. A trd with the fame he has already accumulated. Agamemnon’s disrespect to Achilles sparks a rage that develops into a long lasting grudge. It did not inspire him to prove his worth and win back his honor, perhaps making Agamemnon miserable in the shadow of his glory, as a true hero might react. “And you will eat your heart out because you failed to honor the best Greek of all.” (Book 1, line 258-259) Instead Achilles lets his vanity consume him to the detriment of his army.

Comrades in war are what teammates are like to a quarterback in football. Achilles may be the most well-known player, but that doesn’t mean his companions are unimportant. Achilles undermines his allies...