Achilles: a Tragic Hero Essay example

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Achilles as Tragic Hero

In his classic work "Poetics" Aristotle provided a model of the tragic hero. According to Aristotle, the tragic hero is more admirable than the average person. This results in the tragic hero being admired by the audience. For the audience to accept a tragic ending as just, it is crucial that the tragic hero be responsible for their undoing. At the same time though, they must remain admired and respected. This is achieved by the tragic hero having a fatal flaw that leads to their undoing. One of literature's examples of the tragic hero is Achilles from Homer's The Iliad. However, Achilles is different from the classic tragic hero in one major way - his story does not end tragically. Unlike the usual …show more content…

This illustrates that Achilles can be considered as being more admirable than the average person. This is also expressed in the poem, such as where Apollo refers to Achilles saying, "Let that man beware, or great and glorious as he is, / We mighty gods will wheel on him in anger - look, / He outrages the senseless clay in all his fury!" (Homer, XXIV 58-60). This passage recognizes Achilles as great and glorious.

This passage also mentions the fatal flaw, which is the second requirement of Aristotle's hero. Achilles fatal flaw is his tendency to go to extremes out of anger. Apollo recognizes this where he refers to Achilles' fury. This fatal flaw is also expressed in the opening lines of the poem, "Rage - Goddess, sing the rage of Peleus' son Achilles, / murderous, doomed, that cost the Achaeans countless losses" (Homer, I 1-2). The rage that is spoken of first causes Achilles to react and refuse to join the battle. When Patroclos is killed, it then causes Achilles to react again, with his rage driving him too far. This allows the audience to see that Achilles is a great man, while having a fatal flaw that leads to his own undoing.

The final aspect of the tragic hero is that his life ends tragically because of his downfall. If Achilles fit with this model perfectly, he would become aware of his excessive rage at the end of the poem. However, while he did become a better person

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