Achilles Vs Odysseus Essay example

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Achilles Odysseus

Homer's two central heroes, Odysseus and Achilles, are in many ways differing manifestations of the same themes. While Achilles' character is almost utterly consistent in his rage, pride, and near divinity, Odysseus' character is difficult to pin down to a single moral; though perhaps more human than Achilles, he remains more difficult to understand. Nevertheless, both heroes are defined not by their appearances, nor by the impressions they leave upon the minds of those around them, nor even so much by the words they speak, but almost entirely by their actions. Action is what drives the plot of both the Iliad and the Odyssey, and action is what holds the characters together. In this respect, the theme of humanity
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In the latter, however, some of his more ignoble traits are revealed: he is a braggart, he almost dishonorably uses poisoned arrows, and he shows conceit in his victory over the Cyclops. It is sometimes difficult to reconcile this man with the one who willingly gives up eternal life for the moral condition and the chance to return to his wife. Largely, the problems with understanding the moral position of Odysseus stem from his immense experience and cleverness, which make him at once mortal and fantastic.

Achilles, on the other hand, can almost be fully comprehended from his initial disagreement with Agamemnon. Agamemnon's unreasonable actions seem to justify Achilles' refusal to engage his men in battle, primarily, because his pride will not allow him to act. Achilles believes himself to be the most important man in the army and the injury cannot be forgiven. Even when a diplomatic escape is contrived by Agamemnon, Achilles sees his position as unchanged-doubtlessly, Odysseus would have relented but Achilles is unable to forget past grievances.

Despite these initial differences, one of the central themes to all of Homer's writings is revealed when Odysseus encounters Achilles' ghost in the Odyssey. Achilles says, "I would rather serve as a hired laborer in the field of another, a man without his own portion who has a meager livelihood, than be lord over the dead corpses." (Odyssey, 11. 489-91). Thus, the
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