Ancient Greek / Iliad Paper term paper 11996

Ancient Greek term papers
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How does Achilles change? Why does the change take place? Which personality is the true Achilles?

Initially, Achilles is selfish and petty. He refuses to fight in the war because Agamemnon takes Briseis. His selfishness causes the death of many Argives. Without the strength and power of Achilles, no other Greek warrior is able to repel the powerful Hector. Achilles understands this and refuses to fight unless the Greeks recognize him as the supreme commander. When Agamemnon offers Achilles a plentiful amount of elegant gifts, Achilles says, “ No, not even then could Agamemnon bring my fighting spirit around until he pays me back, pays full measure for all of his heartbreaking outrage”(264). Because Achilles refuses to fight, Patroclus decides to lead Achilles’ troops in honor of him.

After the death of Patroclus, Achilles’ personality changes. He begins to feel remorse because he allows his friend to go to battle without considering the major risk that he takes. The death of Patroclus indicates to Achilles that he has been acting immature and inspires him to go to battle. His presence is very useful in the battle, and Achilles slays Hector. After slaying his friend’s killer, he goes back to the Argive camp to lead the funeral games in honor of Patroclus. Achilles rewards the contestants by giving them prizes, which come from his most treasured possessions. Described in the book: “ He had them sit in a great and growing circle- now for funeral games- and brought from his ships the trophies for the contestants” (567). When the funeral games end, Achilles continues to grieve for Patroclus, and torture the body of Hector in honor of him. Surprisingly, Achilles agrees to return body of Hector back to Priam. He says, “So be it. The man who brings the ransom can take away the body, if Olympian Zeus himself insists in all earnest” (593). This statement comes as a shock to the reader, who expects Achilles to insist on keeping the body.

Achilles matures throughout the book. Initially, he chooses not to fight for a selfish reason, but eventually he fights and saves the Argives from total destruction. If it had not been for Patroclus’ death, the reader would not get to see the kinder version of Achilles. Achilles seems to change his entire personality after the death of Patroclus, which makes the reader ponder whether it took the death of a loved one for Achilles to change his behavior. The true Achilles is the one at the beginning of the book, but slowly he progresses into a kinder version toward the end.

Word Count: 432


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