Achilles' Heroism in The Iliad

In the 8th century, a Greek poet decided to write a heroic poem named “The Odyssey.” The person who wrote such an epic poem goes by the name of Homer. The Iliad was a sequel to the Odyssey. The Iliad discusses war, the Trojan War because it was around those times, the Trojans and Achaeans, the gods and their goddess, and the violence that was around it. The Iliad portrays the fight by the Greeks to capture the city-state of Troy and to return Helen back to her husband.

Homer introduced a character named Achilles, who was the greatest warrior. Achilles was the son of Nereid Thetis and Peleus. It is shown in the poem that he was known for his rage. But even though he was filled with anger, that didn’t define his character. He was still loyal to his community and its people. This essay will examine the role of Achilles that claims he is a hero. Achilles was a brave hero who avenged his close friend by taking the life of the man who killed him.

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The greatest warrior and for his people, Achilles was astonished and the strongest at what he did. He wanted to protect his precious country and still accomplish his task in the workforce. In fact, his role was very important to the Achaeans. He was admired by many because of his skills but didn’t get rewarded or credited for his bravery. According to the‘ Iliad’ it states, “With Achilles, who is for all Achaeans the great wall of defense against this evil war.

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” (253). Achilles didn’t fight in the evil war because Agamemnon didn’t value his wishes and started to give Achilles anger instead of compassion. Achilles felt insulted by the dishonor from Agamemnon. The Achaeans received a loss after not having Achilles there to fight. A hero fights for their society with honor and respect. Agamemnon dishonored Achilles and angered him. Since he wasn’t getting the same energy in return, he wanted to stand up and fight to be respected and heard. Achilles was not okay with being treated unfairly. He wanted to show that he isn’t going to take dishonorable acts lightly. The war itself didn’t hold any value to Achilles, but not Heroism isn’t only about protecting people or leading the way, it’s also about respect. Respect goes a long way, whether it’s from the hero or the people, respect should in a formal way. It’s clearly evident that the Achaeans needed their powerful warrior to win, without him they are nothing.

Honor and Glory are what it takes to be a hero. To become a hero, you must show others what you are capable of. Capability requires sacrifice, loyalty, respect, heroism, and honors. Heroism includes heroic acts being performed and acts of the deed. Heroism in battle Honor and Glory was taken very seriously in their time. In the Iliad Achilles says, “ If I hold back here and I lay siege to Troy, my journey home is gone, but my glory dies, If I voyage back to the fatherland I love, my pride, my glory dies… true, but the life that’s left will be long, the stroke of death will not come on me quickly.”(499-505). Achilles has a decision to make, to die young with glory or die without any glory but still help his people. Honor and Glory are a sign of respect and shows good leadership in a person. Achilles felt living back home would destroy his glory. No one will take him seriously or respect his sacrifices if he continued to stay and fight for the Achaeans. He knew that his people needed him but didn’t feel comfortable fighting another man’s battle. Heroes decide to do what’s right and what’s right for their people. Achilles decided to return back home and help his society.

Achilles’ rage is a part of the reason he’s become the greatest warrior that he is. At the beginning of the story, it mentions, “Wrath, sing, goddess, of the ruinous wrath of Peleus’ son Achilles, that inflicted woes without number upon the Achaeans, rendered their bodies prey for the dogs”.(1-2).”The rage inside of him helped him gained countless victories for the Achaeans. Rage helps him become a better fighter. With rage, it helps him lash out and gets the job done. It’s got the job done because he uses that rage to exceed in battlefields. He is the glue that holds the Achaeans together. His strength and courage on the battlefield prove his worthiness to society. Honestly without his rage, the war would’ve gone a different way and the story’s conflict would’ve been something else. Homer addresses and centers the poem around Achilles’ rage because most of the events in the war were influenced by his rage.

Achilles’ strength shows how solid his heroism is. His presence alone is intimated by others, and he is by far the strongest warrior. Before the war with Hector took place, Aeneas addresses Achilles and says, “No man may fight Achilles, for one of the gods is always with him.”(215). Aeneas lets Achilles knows that Achilles is even stronger than him. His strength was the strongest out of the Achaeans and no one could reciprocate that. His mindset differed from others, and he knew what he was doing when it was time to fight. Achilles rage made him different from the collective and made him grow powerful as a fighter.

Loyalty and friendship go hand in hand in the Iliad. Patroclus wanted Achilles to come back and help the other warriors in the War. Achilles was still upset with Agamemnon and didn’t feel the need to return home and fight in the Battle. Achilles learned the death of his close friend Patroclus, he wanted revenge and termination on Hector for his death. He says, I do not care whether I live or die, since my anger and pride have brought the death of my dearest friend. My only hope is for revenge. The triggered rage developed and pushed Achilles to fight Hector in honor of Patroclus. The loyalty he had for Patroclus makes him a hero. The focus and anger towards Agamemnon reversed towards Hector. Achilles left the war and his home because he felt that he was dishonored. Now that he has learned his friend has died, and he wasn’t present, his guilt turned into anger, and he doesn’t care if he dies trying to get revenge. Achilles wants Hector to pay for he has done to his closest friend and doesn’t plan on stopping till Hector gets his karma. He’s passionate over his people and Hector killing his closest friend, crosses the line. Heroes get even with the bad guy and don’t care if they’re sacrificing their lives or not. Comparison to Achilles, he didn’t care if this decision ended in death. All he cared about was doing right for Patroclus.

Achilles is a hero for the Achaeans. When it’s time to fight for his people with respect and glory, Achilles is the one to count on. He takes pride in Honor and glory and doesn’t tolerate disrespect. Greatest warrior and powerful in strength, Achilles is in fact a hero.

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Achilles' Heroism in The Iliad. (2020, Sep 28). Retrieved from

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