Iliad: Iliad and Honor Essay examples

Submitted By palmeridian14
Words: 688
Pages: 3

Iliad Homer’s the Iliad is an epic of Greek heroes and fair maidens, of honor and obligation, of hatred and love. But most importantly, it is about destiny, especially the destiny of Achilleus. Achilleus is the greatest Greek hero in history, however he is destined to die young and in battle. Yet, this does not bother him because he is respected by the Greek army in the Trojan War and is their greatest inspiration. King Agamemnon, the commander of the Greek army, however despised him and went out of his way to humiliate and dishonor Achilleus. One example of Agamemnon’s exploits can be seen in Book One when he forcibly takes the woman Briseis, Achilleus’ lover, for himself on the grounds that he had to give up his own lover for another injustice. This action caused Achilleus to withdraw all his troops from combat until Briseis is returned to him and Agamemnon makes a public apology. Yet, the loss of his woman was not the main reason why Achilleus withdrew from the war. In reality, Achilleus’ biggest concern that motivated him is that Agamemnon deprived Achilleus’ of his honor and destiny through the act of taking his woman and placing himself above Achilleus. One of the main motivations for Achilleus to fight in the Trojan War was that his destiny was either to live a long, peaceful life and be forgotten to history or live a short, bloody life and be honored throughout history. He chose the life of honor, which guaranteed that he will die by the sword in the Trojan War. That was the bargain that he made with the gods. However, when Agamemnon took Briseis, he not only deprived Achilleus of his prize, but he also impugned his honor as well, which can be seen in the following excerpt: “I shall take the fair-cheeked Briseis…that you may learn well how much greater I am than you…” (1: 184-186) To Achilleus, this insult hurt him more than the actual act of losing Briseis because honor is the most important thing he had, and Agamemnon actively challenged it. In addition, Achilleus did not like how Agamemnon thought that he can walk upon the honor of his generals and lay claim to their property for if Achilleus rejected the order, than Agamemnon would take another man’s woman. It concerned him that the king had such hubris and disrespect for his generals. Once, Achilleus was so incensed that he was about to kill the king until Athena stopped him and advised him to withdraw from fighting (1: 204-214), which will hurt