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The Metamorphosis of Achilles in Homer’s The Iliad Essay

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The Metamorphosis of Achilles in Homer’s The Iliad

Dr. Frost’s comments: With his clear explanation, illustrative quotes, and logical organization, the student easily proves his thesis, recapped and affirmed very well in the final paragraph.

From the first pages of Homer’s The Iliad, Achilles is portrayed as vengeful, proud, and petty. As the book progresses, the image of Achilles as a spiteful child is sharpened dramatically. Towards the end of the epic; however, Achilles begins to exhibit qualities that are considered heroic even in today’s society. Once his loyal and trusted friend Patroclus dies, Achilles undergoes a drastic change in character. When he confronts the true horror of death, Achilles puts aside his immature
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Even this early in the epic, it is difficult to believe Achilles would ever settle for a long life without glory. Somewhat later in the epic; however, this is precisely what Achilles intends to do. When Agamemnon sends an embassy to entreat the swift runner, Achilles tells them:

“...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) Achilles then proceeds to urge the rest of the Greeks to sail home and abandon the war in Troy. Although this seems to imply that Achilles has given up his youthful brashness, he also mercilessly insults Agamemnon in the same book. His refusal to let go of his anger and his concern for his own future indicate a more adolescent or young adult viewpoint, rather than his previous childishness.

The three ambassadors, Odysseus, Telamonian Ajax, and Phoenix, all appeal to Achilles to release his anger, implying that they look at him as a youth raging at worldly injustices. When Odysseus tells Achilles “Fail us now? What grief it will be to you / through all the years to come. No remedy, / no way to cure the damage once it’s done” (9.301-3), and when he
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