The Battle Of Achilles : The Swift-Footed Achilles

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The 5th century BC would have been a perilous time for a citizen of a Greek state. Not only did Greece defend herself from an external threat but her very own clans warred against themselves. In this chaotic climate, the theatre became an outlet for Athenians to flesh out the underlying themes of war, conquest and their very own humanity. There could be no better setting for such a quest than one intertwined in the very fabric of Greek consciousness. The Homeric tradition itself is not a simple self-congratulatory tail of Achaean triumph. Both sides are united by the tragedy of a city under siege (Miles 1986, 189). Epic tradition deals with mortality and the human condition in an unexpected way; at its core, it sees the enemy as an extension of itself (Dué 2006, 3). Achilles (Hom. Il., 9.323–27) and Odysseus (Hom. Od., 8.521–31) invoke the laments of Trojan women for their husbands, the very soldiers that might have fallen by their own swords (Dué 2002, 5-11). Specifically, the swift-footed Achilles relates to a woman at a visceral level with a simile of a mother bird that has toiled to raise her young only to lose them (Dué 2006, 3). Hektor’s death should be a clear Achaean highpoint in the narrative but it is immediately dampened by the following scenes of a despairing father, mother and wife (Hom. Il., 22.404-515). Finally, the closing stages of the Iliad does not leave the audience with the funerary scenes of Achilles’ inevitable end but of his nemesis Hektor
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