Seminar Summer Assignment 2014
Word count: 981
Chryses Ultimate Revenge
In the epic The Iliad, translated by Robert Fagles, an assortment of vengeful events are painted in the reader’s mind, events such as treacherous battles and vivid details of demise. Many events occur to bring the downfall of the Greeks, but the event that starts it all is that of Chryses praying to Apollo, asking for a plague to be placed on the Greeks. This epic begins about nine years into the war with the Achaeans attacking a Trojan-allied town. The Achaeans’ king is Agamemnon and one of his most valuable warriors is Achilles. When attacking this town they both claim beautiful women as their prizes. Agamemnon’s prized maiden is Chrysies, daughter of Chryses who is a priest of the god Apollo. Chryses offers to pay a vast ransom in return for his daughter. When Agamemnon refuses, Chryses prays to Apollo for help. Apollo recognizes Chryses and places a plague on the Greek camp, which leads to the deaths of many soldiers. A seer is called to divulge what is causing these deaths. The seer discloses that the plague is a vengeful move on Chryses behalf. Agamemnon still refuses to give Chrysies back unless he is given Brysies in her place. Even though it's Agamemnon’s fault for refusing to give up Chrysies, it is the revenge that plagues the heart of Chryses, which engenders a domino effect of horrible events that the Greeks experience. If it were not for Chryses seeking revenge on Agamemnon for purloining his daughter, there would be no plague. Chryses scrounges Apollo to place a plague on the Greek camps, if it were not for this plague then Agamemnon would have not felt at fault for all the deaths of him men. Pressured by what is left of his men, he feels forced to give up his prized beauty. But this will not do as this would dishonor him; instead he decides to state that he will not give up Chrysies unless Briseis was given to him. This insulted and outraged Achilles. But it did not end there; revenge is a plague placed in these men and Chryses was the person to spark it in Achilles heart.
The epic starts right off the bat with a battle between Agamemnon’s egotistical assertion of his superiority and Achilles’ honor. As said in The Iliad translated by Robert Fagles, “No – if our generous Argives will give me a prize, a match for my desires, equal to what I’ve lost, well and good. But if they give me nothing I will take a prize myself – your own” (Book 1, ll. 159-162). To get back at Agamemnon for his deeds Achilles chooses to pull back from the battlefield, which nearly allows the Trojans to win. Revenge is one of the main themes in The Iliad that drives men to take hasty actions. Chryses valued his daughter’s life more than the Greek soldiers’ life, not only because she is his daughter but also because he is allied with the Trojans. This leads him to not think twice about revenge against Agamemnon and his armies. Which then results in Agamemnon abusing his superiority. Agamemnon’s inequitable insult to Achilles leads to an extremely pernicious vengeance. The outcome of this vengeance is masses of the innocent allies of these men being killed without necessity. This is not in Achilles character, he as the most valuable warrior is usually ready to fight, but instead he chooses to pull back and do nothing. Agamemnon did try to change this but no matter what Agamemnon had offers Achilles, no matter how sincere or striking his offers are, Achilles is too far down the road of madman to accept. Achilles’ only desire is to get revenge for what has been done. It is not until the…