Achilles Ethos In The Iliad

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Andrew Neely IPHS: Odyssey of West Professor Hawthorne September 21, 2009 With reference to his speeches in Book IX, why do you think Achilles rejects the three envoys? Does his rejection suggest that Achilles has come to have doubts about the heroic life and ethos? Please support your answer with textual evidence. The most powerful warrior in Homer’s Iliad, Achilles has all the necessary arête (skills) that embodies the traditional Greek hero. In ancient Greece, skill in battle was valued over any other quality and it defined the Greek man. Honor was gained on the battlefield, the more one fought, the greater their rank in society was. And at the tenth year of the Trojan War, Achilles was at the height of this social class. He had proved…show more content…
Honor no longer means the same as it did for when he first set out to Troy in hopes of eternal glory, knowing full well his mother’s prophecy. “Mother tells me the that…if I hold out here and I lay siege to Troy, my journey home is gone, but my glory never dies. If I voyage back to the fatherland I love, my pride, my glory dies.. true, but the life that’s left me will be long, the stroke of death will not come so quickly” (Iliad 9.497-505). Achilles chooses glory when he first sets sail but in the tenth year of the war he starts to realize the pointlessness in his effort if another is taking the glory. He knows death awaits him but he can decide when. Agamemnon has taken the glory from Achilles and with it he no longer sees the value in honor through combat. Achilles believes now that honor is only found in death. “One and the same lot for the man who hangs back and the man who battles hard. The same honor waits for the coward and the brave. They both go down to Death” (Iliad 9.385-387). He chooses a longer lifer over s short one, because he believes now that the honor is the same no matter how hard one fights. This war has taught him that and in his realization, Achilles the greatest of heroes breaks the heroic

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