Socrates And Achilles

Good Essays
Socrates and Achilles: the Martyr Heroes
Madelyn Vogel
ILS 205

By comparing himself to the Greek hero Achilles before the jury in Plato’s Apology, Socrates attempts to portray himself as a hero of equal merit to Achilles and others of similar standing. By selecting the greatest of the Classical Greeks to compare and contrast himself to in his argument, Socrates surreptitiously urges his audience to view him as being of the same caliber as Achilles. This not only authenticates Socrates’ claims, but also exhibits his disconnect from earlier forms of thought. Essentially, Socrates attempts to display himself in the same light as his predecessor Achilles through their shared aspiration to do what they deem to be right in addition to their
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At the battle of Troy, Achilles chooses almost certain death in exchange for the honor of avenging Patroclus. As Socrates paraphrases, “when his mother said to him, as he was eager to slay Hector, ‘My son, if you avenge the death of your friend Patroclus and kill Hector, you yourself shall die; for straightway, after Hector, is death appointed unto you,” (The Apology, 28c). However, Socrates is relatively loose in his representation of Achilles. Homer’s Achilles is focused primarily on private affairs as seen when he only agrees to return to battle to avenge personal loss in the form of his “beloved” Patroclus (The Iliad, book 18, 120). Contrastingly, Socrates represents the Greek hero as being much more absorbed by the necessity of attaining honor and justice for both himself and his peers. Through this specific example, Socrates makes it apparent that, he, like Achilles before him, is both willing and able to die if that is what it takes to find truth. He will under no circumstances condemn any of his actions just to save his life. Socrates’ primary motivation for comparing himself to Achilles, the best of all the classic heroes, is to convince the jury of his Achillean heroism. One attribute of a hero according to the events of the Iliad is that one must either kill or be killed in the pursuit of honor. Correspondingly, the Iliad chronicles Achilles’ life and death on the natural path to heroism. Despite the
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