Analysis of Achilles' Personality Growth in Homer's the Iliad

1900 Words Mar 4th, 2007 8 Pages
Achilles, the famous mythological war hero, is the central character in The Iliad. It is his storyline that creates the essence of the epic war written by Homer. Although it may seem that the main theme is about the dominance, gruesomeness, and destruction of Troy when the poem is first read, this is not the main focus. It is in The Iliad, that we see how Achilles transforms from youth to maturity; and grows through undergoing permanent and fundamental personality changes from a ferocious warrior in the beginning to a more reserved and hospitable man by the end of the poem. Homer constructed the epic story of Troy as a representation of proper behavior. As a result, he wrote and composed the type of literature where people could refer …show more content…
Since Achilles chose not to live a long, lusterless life and went against his mother's suggestions, Achilles is doomed to death, but with the high probability of becoming a glorious war hero after his time. Afterward, Achilles begins to grow out of the child-like guise by telling the embassy sent by Agamemnon, "...two fates bear me on to the day of death. If I hold out here and lay siege to Troy, My journey home is gone, but my glory never dies. If I voyage back to the fatherland I love, My pride, my glory dies... True, but the life that's left me will be long, The stroke of death will not come on me quickly." (9.499-505)
This particular passage implies that young Achilles has given up his youthful days and is after a merciless revenge on Agamemnon. His immediate refusal of rejoining the battle is a indication of a more mature viewpoint in comparison to his childish tactics in the beginning of The Iliad. Achilles first shows signs of experiencing a sense of obligation towards the Greeks several books later when Patroclus implores Achilles. Achilles still refuses to enter combat, but the reason he gives is "Still, by god, I said I would not relax my anger, / not till the cries and carnage reached my own ships" (16.71-2). This statement shows that Achilles desired to take part in the war, but he the stubborn attitude was unwilling to admit that he was wrong