Iliad

1. Achilles’s relationship with his fellow Achaeans was typical of a Greek warrior. He cared and respected many of them, but honor and glory in battle surpassed true loyalty. They were many kings who contended for their own interests, and Achilles was more easily offended and quick to anger than the others. He was also so full of pride (perhaps hubris) and selfishness that he would not aide in battle because he was dishonored by Agamemnon, both when his prize was taken from him and when he was not acknowledged as being the best of the Greek warriors. When his neighbors were being cut down by Hector, he relishes, because it shows that they need him. Even when Agamemnon concedes and offers him a bounty, Achilles is still not satisfied and continues to rage and stoke his hurt pride. He doesn’t come to action until Patroclus dies, then he focuses his rampant emotions into crushing sorrow. I think he is genuinely grieved, but I think in some way exaggerated. His self-centered attitude puts his grief before all others, thinking it is greater even than a father’s grief over his son, or brother for brother. It was not good enough to get revenge; he had to desecrate the body of the warrior, too.

Hector’s relationship with his soldiers is much different. It could be that the Trojans feel more united under the rule of one king, as opposed to the Achaeans who are built of many kings who all want to be in control. There is more camaraderie between Hector and his soldiers; he fights when they fight. When he seeks out Paris, he is eager to get back to the battle field. He tells Helen, “My heart is out there with our fighting men. They already feel my absence from battle,’ (p. 196). Then as he stands alone before the walls of Troy waiting for Achilles, he is so wracked with guilt that he led so many of his men to their deaths that he cannot bear the thought of seeking refuge in the city and facing them. As a prince he has made the effort to prove himself a worthy leader to the people of Troy, training to be the best warrior so he can lead them into battle as opposed to sending them out, and the people love him for it. Achilles is a great warrior, but demands recognition for what was given to him by his birth and that he does not have to work for.

2. After Achilles went berserk, it was the plea of Priam that pulled him out of his sorrow. Achilles saw the love his own father felt for him, as well as the grief that would come when he didn’t return home. Priam moved Achilles in this way, filling him with compassion. It’s also a reminder that there are no definites in war. A father should not kiss the hand of his son’s killer, but he does so out of love for his lost child. Hate for the enemy turns to pity, because they are no different from you and your loved ones.

3. I think the two codes are mutually exclusive, though the final action may be the same. This is truer for Hector, since the war was being fought on his homeland and his family was at a greater risk. Hector exhibits the warrior code by facing off Achilles, too guilty to face his men after leading so many of them to their death. He chose instead to die with honor rather than hide behind the walls. However, he initially fought for his family. As he told his wife, he would rather be slain before hearing her cries as she was taken off to slavery. Though the drive is different, the final outcome, to fight for honor and victory, is the same.

2 thoughts on “Iliad

  1. gpetrie

    I find it interesting that you said the two codes of Warrior and Familial are mutually exclusive because the many posts I read before yours were saying the opposite. I enjoyed reading your take because it was different than most others.

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