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In Homer’s book the “Iliad” lays an epic conflict between a man and his inner self that ultimately leads to great loss on a wider scale and not just to himself. Achilles is a man with a superpower but has a severe problem when his ego is insulted. Achilles is driven by rage and anger and will do everything in his power to seek vengeance on anyone whom gets in the way of his pride whether it is friend or foe.
One might argue whether Achilles is an epic hero but this answer lies within the reader.
Achilles is one man who has the greatest fighting abilities as well as the greatest military prowess of any of the Achaean ranks. The only downfall for Achilles is that his inner force is driven by rage and proves to be devastating to his Achaean comrades. In the first book of the “Iliad”, Achilles pride was hurt when Agamemnon takes Achilles prize, Briseis, from him after Agamemnon’s prize, Chryseis, was demanded back from the Greek god Apollo.
This began the rage inside Achilles and with this he refused to continue fighting with the Achaean army and took his men back home. Achilles also pleaded his story to his mother, Thetis, and asked her to talk with Zeus to punish the Achaean’s. Even though Apollo lifted the plaque he casted over the camp after Chryseis was returned, Achilles request from Zeus was now in place and with Zeus now on the Trojans side, the worst was yet to come.
Even though the Trojan War has been going on for nearly ten years, Achilles decision to refuse to fight alongside Agamemnon cripples the Achaean army and ends the ten year battle within a matter of a few days after his return. On the other hand the conflict that arose between Agamemnon and Achilles was started by the Greek God Apollo whom casted the plaque in the first place which in turn tipped off the conflict between these two men. The following phrase provides the bases of the Achilles antagonist: “Sing, O goddess, the anger of Achilles son of Peleus that brought countless ills upon the Achaeans.
Many a brave soul did it send hurrying down to Hades, and many a hero did it yield a prey to dogs and vultures, for so were the counsels of Jove fulfilled from the day on which the son of Atreus, king of men, and great Achilles, first fell out with one another” (Sylva). During the war, with Achilles absent and refusal to fight, the Achaean have a hard time keeping the Trojans at bay and with the gods involved on the Trojan’s side it is even harder for the Achaean army to with stand the Trojans.
The gods give Diomedes supernatural powers and the ability to harm a god in hopes that he will even out the war and the absence of Achilles. Unfortunately this is not enough for the Achaean army to defeat the Trojans without Achilles and his men. Achilles rage towards Agamemnon is what the Achaean’s need to defeat the Trojans. The Achaeans try bribing Achilles for his return and to stand and fight with them but Achilles rage towards Agamemnon is so strong that he refuses. It is not until Patroclus, Achilles best friend, dresses in Achilles uniform and returns to battle.
In doing so this brings upon Patroclus’ fate in the hands of Hector, which was stated by Homer that as soon as Patroclus is called to talk with Nector his doom is sealed. Patroclus’ death is the turning point for Achilles to rejoin the battle. He only does so to avenge his friend’s death by vowing to kill Hector. Achilles rage towards Agamemnon has been refocused onto avenging Patoclus’ death and he stops at nothing until he slays Hector. He goes on slaying Trojans by the numbers just to get to Hector. Eventually he slays Hector and drags his body all over the city.
Achilles is an epic hero in the “Iliad” and his antagonist is himself. His inability to not be able to rationalize situations and to be driven by rage and anger is the cause of such a brutal war in his absence. His rage caused a mass amount of deaths to the Achaean army as well as the fate of his best friend Patroclus. Yet still at the heart of the “Iliad” lies fate, which Achilles knows will either be a short but heroic life with Troy or a long life back at home. His driving force, “rage”, is what drives his fate to return to battle and his anger is what drives the happenings to Achilles after Hectors death.
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