Achilles, the greatest warrior of the Greeks stands next to the sea while reminiscing of the past. After his mother’s death he had ‘entered the rough world of men’ [pg 6] where wars and battles prevail. Every morning, he feels the need to ‘tramp to shore’ [pg 10] since he is haunted by the death of his ‘soulmate and companion’ Patroclus, and his raging hatred towards Hector, killer of Patroclus and thus, the ‘implacable enemy.’
When Achilles was a child, his cousin Patroclus, came to live with the young Achilles since the former had killed the son of a high official of the royal court due to a ‘quarrel over a game of knucklebones’ [pg 11]. In need of an asylum, Patroclus came to live with Achilles’ family. As the years passed, the pair grew closer to the extent where Achilles believes that ‘he had mated with Patroclus’ [pg 15].
When the tide of the battle was against the Greeks, Patroclus disguises himself in Achilles’ armour in order to instill fear in the Trojans and cause them to return to the safety of their walls, thus providing temporary relief for the Greeks. In his last act for his closest friend, Patroclus is killed in battle*. The death of Patroclus left Achilles with an overwhelming sense of loss and also burning animosity. Achilles whispers that he will join Patroclus soon, but firstly, he has to avenge Patroclus’ killer, Hector.
Hector, the son of Trojan king Priam and leader of the Trojan army, wore Achilles armour as a sign of triumph and disrespect for the Greeks. In a dramatic battle between Hector and himself, Achilles was successful in killing his enemy. Achilles’ Myrmidons then stripped Hector of his armour and ‘without pity…plunged their swords into Hector’s unprotected flesh’ [pg 24]. For Achilles however, this was not enough. Still fuelled by his pain, Achilles ties Hector’s body to a chariot and drags it ‘up and down under the walls of Troy’ [pg 26] as the dead warrior’s royal family devastatingly watches on. Achilles feels like ‘dead man…feeling nothing’ [pg 26], unable to seal the void left by his beloved friend.
The next day, Achilles is furious to find Hector’s body ‘smoothly sealed and the torn flesh made whole again.’ His men cannot bear to look at him as he drives the chariot with Hector’s body along the walls of the Trojans once again. Afterwards he quickly falls asleep, into ‘oblivion’[pg 35] as he struggles with his shame and guilt of his actions. He is ‘waiting for a break…something new and unimaginable’ in his life.
Eleven days after Hector’s death, king Priam grieves in his city of Troy. The city is at the breach of ruins since he can only provide ‘weak protection’ [pg 40] due to his old age. He believes that he is the target of the gods’ mockery since he has lost the heir to his throne. Priam then envisions the goddess Iris, who informs Priam that it is not mockery, but chance since the events are ‘not the way they must be, but the way they have turned out’ [pg 46]. Amazed by the fact that chance is a factor in the events that have occurred in his life, he then sees himself dressed as plain man in a plain cart, with an unfamiliar man who draws two coal-black mules.
Inside the cart is an abundance of gold. He realises that the gods have provided him the vision to create a plan to save Hector’s body from Achilles’ hostile forces. Resolute, he heads to his wife, Hecuba to share the plan. Inside her sitting room, Hecuba suffers from a cold and is deprived of sleep. His wife is distraught that she cannot properly grieve because of Achilles’ disrespect for Hector’s body. Taking this queue to introduce his plan, Priam expresses that all his life he has never been a warrior, and always had Idaeus, a herald who speaks on behalf of the king. Priam wishes to change his ways, to do something extraordinary that will be remembered by others. He shares his vision about dressing plainly, sitting in a cart full of treasure while guided by a man and two…