The Iliadpresents modern day readers with information about the Greek society many years ago inthe B. C. time period. This poem portrays the important values of the Greek societyduring a heroic age.
This heroic age is conveyed by one main character, Achilles. Achillesrepresents the tragic Greek hero in The Iliad, tragic because he chose his own death. Achilles knew (because of his mother Thetis), that he could either lead a long andinsignificant life, or die young but glorious. Achilles chose the latter. Throughout TheIliad, Achilles went through some significant changes that affected himself, as well as theAchaeans and Trojans.
He began a hero and ended a tragic hero. The Trojan War is vital to Greek mythology and provides a backdrop fordiscussion. Before the war even started, however, it was known by all Trojans andAchaeans that Achilles was the best fighter. He was the hero of all fighters. In a way thiswas bad, and in a way this was good. Achilles was overflowing with pride, which built uphis confidence.
Consequently, it was his confidence that brought on his early death. It all began when Agamemnon stole away Briseis, Achilles woman. To ease theanger Achilles had for Agamemnon, Thetis asked Zeus to provide honor for her son,Achilles. Zeus granted her request by promising that the Achaeans would suffer enoughlosses to force Agamemnon to come begging for Achilles help.
The first major change in Achilles was caused by his rage toward Agamemnon. Achilles, the great warrior, allowed his wrath to infest his desire to help his own comradesin the battle against the Trojans. It was his determination to maintain his pride that ledway to his unwavering stubbornness. Because Achilles withheld himself from battle, theAchaeans and Trojans suffered many losses. Of the Achaeans, many of the best menwere injured or killed.
Odysseus, Diomedes, and Agamemnon were all three vital fightersfor the Achaeans that nearly lost their lives in battle. They were not able to participate inbattle for a number of days. The Trojans experienced similar casualties. Even thoughAchilles behavior was not centered around concern for his comrades, the Achaeans neverlost respect for him.
They continued to honor him, knowing that he was far stronger thanany other Achaean and that they needed his help A main message portrayed during the continuous battle that took place duringAchilles absence, was that some people are favored and some are not. Regardless of aGreek or Trojans reputation, the stronger fighter was always determined by the gods. For example, when the Trojans reached the Argive gates, Zeus gave Hector the power tolift a huge boulder. With this boulder, Hector was able to break open and gain entrance. He then had access to the Argive ships.
The intervention of the gods showed manyparallels to human life during the time Achilles was out of battle, this being one of them. The intervention of the gods affected everyone, whether they were mortal or immortal,Trojan or Achaean. Other parallels included jealousy, pride, and anger. All of these human traits thatthe gods reflected, were precisely why Achilles had withdrawn from battle. Jealousy,pride, and anger were all feelings Achilles possessed as a result of Agamemnon stealingBriseis.
The second major change in Achilles took place when his friend Patroclus waskilled by Hector. When Agamemnon sent his men with ransom to call Achilles back tobattle, Achilles did not accept. The mere request by Agamemnons messengers was notenough to lure him back. Achilles should have accepted Agamemnons ransom andreturned to fight. Instead, he continued to wallow in his own pride and anger. Thiscontinued rage killed his best friend Patroclus because Achilles was not there to protecthim.
The personal affect that Patroclus death had on Achilles caused even more wraththan before. As a result, Achilles returned to battle for revenge. This late decision would have been classified by the Greeks as the second largest mistake possible. Achilleschanged his mind, but he changed it too late. Patroclus was dead. In the end, Achillesreceived his long sought glory by killing the Trojan responsible for Patrocluss death.
The killing of Hector by Achilles was a pivotal point in Achilles life of heroism. He moved from being a hero to that of a tragic hero.