Achilles is One of the Greatest Greek Warriors
Achilles is one of the greatest Greek warriors, as the Iliad, which is based on the Trojan War, brings out the anger that arises within Achilles. Achilles’ anger comes from Agamemnon, who took Briseis away from him. This action of Agamemnon has provoked Achilles as his pride is being taken away from him, and Achilles would now rather see the Greeks lose the war than to get insulted by Agamemnon. This results in Achilles’ logic behind all his decisions. As Agamemnon humiliates Achilles, resulting in Achilles’ threat in withdrawing from the war and calls upon his mother, Thetis. Achilles demands to his mother, who is a goddess, to ask Zeus to punish the Achaeans, in order for him to gain the honor he had lost from Agamemnon. Throughout the book, Achilles kept the same mindset in order to gain the most pride he can. Achilles’ stubbornness is one of his biggest flaws which will end up leading to his own breakdown and downfall.
As the Greeks continue to lose their battles and are in desperate need of Achilles’ help, the great Nestor talked some sense into Agamemnon that he needs to make peace with Achilles in order to win the war. Agamemnon replies with the following “ As it has here, and the army has suffered for it, But since I did succumb to a fit of madness, I want to make substantial amends. I hereby announce my reparations” (9.123-125). As shown, Agamemnon realizes he needs to do whatever it takes to get Achilles to fight, in order to do this Agamemnon offers material gifts. His material gifts include tripods, golds, cauldrons, racehorses, women, Briseis back, and even his own daughter in the hands of marriage. These material gifts aren’t promised, instead, they’re conditional, where Agamemnon expects Achilles to submit to his power and ruling, and accepting this offer will only make Achilles the subordinate. Nestor’s proposes to send envoys to send the message to Achilles. At Achilles’ camp, Achilles is happily singing alongside his friend, Patroclus. Both welcome the embassy that was sent by providing food and drinks for the men.
The first embassy was the great Odysseus, who makes his proposal to Achilles. Odysseus argues that the Greeks are in big trouble and they need their greatest warrior, Achilles to fight for them. He continues to repeat the offer that Agamemnon has offered Achilles, leaving out the part that about Agamemnon dominance over Achilles. To Prove his final point, Odysseus continues on that even though Achilles may still hate Agamemnon, he should still rejoin the war and fight, not for Agamemnon, but for the pity for his friends and other soldiers. Achilles responds by questioning everything Odysseus has told him, as he states “Why do Greeks have to fight the Trojans Why did Agamemnon lead the army to Troy if not for the sake of fair-haired Helen?” (9.345-347). Achilles clearly states to Odysseus that he will not return, as he states that these gifts aren’t worth his life. Achilles further questions the reason for fighting the war and the idea about the honor that the soldiers will receive. Achilles’ views death as being the same, so, at the end, it doesn’t matter how it happens. Furthermore, Achilles recalls the two choices his mother had proposed to him, where he can either fight and gained great honor and glory or he can return home and live a long sought out life. With these two choices, Achilles makes his final remarks as he rather returns home and lives out his life.
Next, Phoenix attempts to convince Achilles not to return home. Phoenix pushes Achilles to accept Agamemnon’s forgiveness, even though Agamemnon hasn’t asked for forgiveness. To begin, Phoenix bonds with Achilles over Achilles’ father, Peleus, this way Phoenix appeals to Achilles’ emotions in an attempt to make Achilles forget about his pride. After gaining Achilles’ attention and trust, Phoenix proceeds onto telling the story of Meleager, where Meleager was a man that was wronged, so he decided to take his anger out on his country, and leave the fight. Meleager took the route that Achilles is about to take, and returned home to his wife. Meleager thought this was a safe route until the enemies started closing in on his own home, where he realizes the importance of him rejoining the fight, or else his own wife’s safety would be in jeopardy. Eventually, Meleager defeated the enemy, but it cost him his honor. Phoenix explains to Achilles how he shouldn’t make the same mistake as Meleager made, but Achilles still isn’t moved by Phoenix argument and responds back that he doesn’t need any honor, but instead all of his honor comes from Zeus. Achilles knows that if he agrees to Agamemnon’s offer, then he believes he will be sealing his fate for a fight that isn’t worth it. In addition, because of Phoenix and Achilles’ shared past, Achilles urges Phoenix to stop running Agamemnon’s errands for him, instead, Achilles offers Phoenix to stay with him and share the title and honor of being king.
The last messenger, the great Ajax attempts his try at convincing Achilles to return to the war. With the previous fail attempts, Ajax argues “ I do not think we will accomplish what we were sent here to do. Our job now is to report this news quickly, bad as it is” (9. 644-646). Ajax’s approach was different from the others as he directly states what needed to be said. Ajax also then appeals to Achilles by using friendship and how he’ll lose the respect of the other soldiers. Ajax’s speech was most effective as his speech was straight to the point and related most to Achilles’ desire by heart, which was the trait of glory. Even Achilles has responded that everything Ajax has mentioned correlates to his own thoughts, but he still isn’t convinced enough to fight. Instead, he modifies his plans, and will only fight when Hector, himself reaches his own ships.
Overall, Agamemnon and Achilles are both stubborn as they both want things to happen in the way they want. Even though Agamemnon has offered countless amounts of treasures to Achilles, Agamemnon still hasn’t apologized for his actions, and never admitted to his wrongdoings. Without apologizing, Achilles feels as he would simply be admitting Agamemnon’s actions was fine. The gifts and riches that Agamemnon offers will only be giving glory to Agamemnon himself, furthermore, Agamemnon has even commanded that Achilles will yield to him as he is in command. Even though Phoenix’s story foreshadows what will happen to Achilles and shows the parallel in Achilles’ current situation, Achilles’ stubbornness shows as he still wouldn’t fight. Achilles doesn’t know that the story of Meleager foreshadows Achilles’ return to battle because of Patroclus’ death. Achilles takes his pride and honor very seriously even after the hearing about the suffering of his fellow soldiers, Achilles still wouldn’t budge as he puts his pride above all.
The embassy returns back empty-handed, as they gave the news of Achilles’ refusal. This only shows the desperation of how the Greek army needs Achilles, which only proves Achilles’ position as a hero. Diomedes surely states that Achilles will return to fight, as he is a warrior and can’t hold back his anger forever.