Achilles: God or Beast?

1170 Words5 Pages

Joel Abudarham

World Views-Ancient Greek Civilization
Marie Michelle Wilband

“He who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a god.”

Tuesday October 2nd, 2012

Achilles is the main character, and, without doubt, the most complex character in Homer’s famous poem, The Iliad. Son of the goddess nymph Thetis and the king of the Myrmidons, Peleus, Achilles is a semi-god, known throughout and beyond Greece for his strength and fighting abilities. Stories on the epic hero Achilles are numerous, like the legend of Prometheus’, the fore thinker, prophecy regarding the birth of Thetis’ son, or the legend of Achilles bathing in the Styx River.
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‘Hubris’, considered as the only sin for ancient Greeks, is trying to break the holy and sacred order of the cosmos. For Achilles, his arête consists of attaining his maximum potential, a potential he believes to be grater than a simple mortal; therefore he acts as a god. By thinking he is a god, Achilles attains ‘Hubris’, and the consequence for the act of ‘Hubris’ is ‘Nemesis’. Achilles’ Nemesis, a deep and hard pain, is the death of one of the few men he shared compassion and true friendship. At the battlefield, Patroclus has been killed by the Trojan prince Hector. Achilles’ nemesis, the death of Patroclus, is a significant pain for Achilles because he realizes that he is responsible for his friend’s death. In addition, Achilles’ nemesis reminds him of a fundamental truth: He is not a god. Achilles realizes that he is dependent on the men who surround him, and he accepts his own death. In fact, by heading back to the war and deciding to revenge his friend’s memory by killing Hector, Achilles faces his own death. However, his rage and anger remain; in fact it is only transferred from Agamemnon to Hector and the Trojans. So, Achilles heads back to the battlefield and his strength is now greater than before, causing the gods to intervene in the war because “he (Achilles) will raze the wall against the will of fate” according to Zeus.

Achilles mission is to slaughter Patroclus’ killer, prince Hector. After a game of ‘hide and seek’, Hector decides to confront
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