Essay on Achilles as the Hero of Homer’s Iliad

1592 Words 7 Pages
Achilles as the Hero of Homer’s Iliad

When Homer lived, the stature of a hero was measured by the yardstick of fighting ability. In Homer's Iliad, the character of Achilles represents the epitome of the Greek 'heroic code'. Only Achilles fights for pure heroics, while the characters of Diomedes and Hector provide good contrasts.

"Prowess on the battlefield was ranked supreme, high above any considerations of morality"(Martin 26). Nestor, for example, tells Agamemnon and Achilles that he has known much "better men than them" meaning men who are better at fighting. Achilles refuses Lycaon clemency because Patroclus. who is dead. was a much better man than he is by far i.e. a much better fighter. Achilles urges Hector to show
…show more content…
Diomedes suggests to Sthenelus that they should attack Aeneas with the hope of 'covering ourselves in glory': they want to eclipse all of their companions in arms.

This desire is more apparent in Achilles than in anyone else. He will not let even Patroclus. his loved friend. diminish his glory. He warns Patroclus not to be too successful while wearing his armour. In the York Notes is a useful description of how Achilles' motivation for fighting is a pure and simple embodiment of the heroic code. In all of the other heroes it is complicated or diminished by their characters in some way: in Agamemnon , for example, it is inseparably linked to a desire for revenge and to reclaim what is his: in Diomedes it is moderated and restrained: in Odysseus and Nestor it is amenable to practical and political considerations: in Aias it is largely unconscious to the extent that it is comic brute force: in Paris it is set aside for a desire for pleasure: and in Hector it is complicated by the needs of others.

Thus Achilles is the only character with a great love of battle and glory. He is just about the only great hero who is on the trip for heroics.

His decision to return and fight and accept early death, moreover, is most admirable, rather than stay out of the battle and live long. In the heroic world life expectancy was much shorter than it is today. Of course , especially
Open Document