Achilles Essay Research Paper The concept of

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Achilles Essay, Research Paper The concept of heroism is a central theme in Greek mythology. Achilles, the main character in Homer’s The Iliad, accurately depicts the concept of a tragic hero. Throughout his many experiences during the Trojan War, he reflects heroic qualities, and earns his name as the purest, the highest and “the best of the Achaians.” Similar to Achilles, Socrates demonstrates several heroic characteristics, in Plato’s work The Trial and Death of Socrates. Through his trial, apology and death, Socrates shows that his heroism and his commitment to his society are genuine. The Iliad confirms that a warrior lives and dies in the pursuit of honor and glory. Achilles place as a hero depended upon the understanding of his place in society, and performing

with the expectations society had for him. He freely accepted the natural pattern of a hero, consisting of a hero’s suffering and a hero’s death. In Greek mythology there is no concrete concept of afterlife, so winning and glory then becomes the way to a meaningful life. To Homeric Greeks, death symbolized the loss of all things that were good, but there was one thing that would have been worse for Achilles: dying without glory. As a result, becoming a hero means to either kill or be killed in the pursuit for honor and glory. In order to conform to the ideals of society, Achilles becomes a tragic figure, and ultimately dies to uphold his heroic ideals. Achilles consistently reflects his overwhelming tragic flaw of pride, throughout The Iliad. His choice to not fight for the

Achaians resulted in his and Patroklus’ death. Achilles freely accepted this fate. Although, his decision to kill Hector and to mutilate his body drastically opposes heroic ideals. Socrates views are in complete opposition with those of Achilles. Socrates accepts the community’s unjust actions. He believed that, “acting unjustly, returning injustice, and harming someone in self defense is never right.” This belief is completely foreign to Achilles view of the world, because the majority of his actions in The Iliad are centered on his pride, anger and revenge. Similarly, The Iliad and the Trial and Death of Socrates both have heroic characters that stray from the norms of society. Achilles and Socrates examine and question the prevalent ideas in their own societies.

Achilles was a complex warrior who often ignored the cultural norms of society because he saw through their fallacies, particularly in the contradictory heroic code. In the beginning of the Iliad, Achilles questions King Agamemnon’s involvement of the plague. This inquiry lead to his ultimate rebellion against the King and all social norms. Achilles’ actions were uncommon because honor within the community was vital to Homer’s concept of a hero. The hero’s whole world revolved around his relationship to his family and the city. If this personal honor awarded to him by the community was compromised, he felt life had lost its meaning. For example, Achilles felt he had lost his honor when Agamemnon takes Briseis away from him. Later, he even refuses Agamemnon’s gifts to

compensate for his previous actions because he feels it will be even more detrimental to his honor. Achilles also centers many of his actions around his utter fear of disgrace. Although, he breaks the heroic code of society by threatening to kill Agamemnon, and by showing disrespect for his superiors. For the main part, Achilles’ actions revolve around his pursuit for honor and glory, and for his sense of loyalty to the community and to the society in which he lives. He is even forewarned by his mother that if he kills Hector his “fate will stand ready.” When he hears this he made little out of death and danger, and possessed a much greater fear that he would have to live the remainder of his life as a coward. Achilles said, “May I die straightway when I have penalized