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Achilles

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Achilles is by far the greatest warrior that is present in the Achaian army. It is as a consequence of this fact that it can be claimed that apart from The Iliad being about the Trojan War, it is far more than that. It is basically built on the events of the war as they are affected by Achilles through his great anger and wrath. The fact that his involvement and also withdrawal from the war are very crucial in determining the plot of the war, Achilles is further confirmed as being the most pivotal character. Achilles can also be termed as a complex character since he does not blindly follow the cultural norms of the society but is very much capable of seeing the fallacies that are present in the culture. The heroic code that is often contradictory and narrow is a perfect illustration of Achilles’ complexity of character. Being the greatest fighter and warrior n the entire setting, Achilles is not subject to any form of vulnerability but is just unfortunate that he was dipped in the River Styx while a baby hence having vulnerability only at the heels. Finally the fact that no warrior can be said to be a match or even a vague reflection to Achilles clearly illustrates the reason as to why Achilles is considered as the pivotal character in Iliad.

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From the start of Iliad, Achilles appears to be the epicenter of all the characters. It is in this regard that a great confrontational stage is set between him and Agamemnon. This is brought about by the fact that Achilles has a very strong sense of order in the society. The deadly plague that is destroying soldiers becomes an alarming issue to Achilles and it is due to his commanding presence that he decides to ignore protocol and immediately attempt to address the issue disturbing the soldiers. Agamemnon who is the king to Achilles is expected to act in response to this plague but he decides to go silent about it. It is at this point that Achilles decides to take matters into his own hands. The very first thing that he dose is to call for an army assembly, an action that is only reserved for the king (Agamemnon). This forms the beginning of an unending disagreement between Agamemnon and Achilles.

In an attempt to bring back order to the society, Achilles succeeds in the first instance where he finds out the real cause of death of the soldiers. This order though lasts only a short while as the fact that the cause if the soldiers’ death is Agamemnon further brings in more disorder. Since failure is destined to restate the order that Achilles is fighting for, he resorts to withdrawing his troops from the Achaian army. This happens to be a huge point in the events in Iliad which only goes further to confirm that Achilles forms the center of events whether he is present or not.

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Despite the fact that Achilles has already withdrawn his troops from the Achaian army, he is still in deep conflict with Agamemnon. This is evident at the point where he remarks that Agamemnon receives the most prestigious war prizes yet does nothing constructive in the wars to earn the prizes rightfully. He has so much range that he even devalues all the prizes that he has personally and justly won and even harbors plans and attempts to kill Agamemnon. He is only stopped form doing this by the goddess.

The internal war that Achilles has with himself also happens to be shaping the events in Iliad in a major way. The main reason as to why Achilles left the army can not be said to be insufficient. The fact that the inner self of him could not let him surrender the prizes that were being demanded by Agamemnon was perfectly enough reason for Achilles to leave the army. Considering the state and character of Achilles, this does not come as a shocker to the reader. Achilles goes a head to argue that by Agamemnon taking away his war prizes, the relationship between the two of them is just very similar to the relationship that he has with the Trojans. The internal war in Achilles is made evident when he refuses to accept back the Braises that Agamemnon had taken away from him. This is despite the fact that the Braises are offered back together with other numerous gifts. Achilles considers this as a public humiliation and the gifts can not at all amount to the intimidation that he has suffered.

The heroic code and the idea of living with the social status is also another aspect that is significant in the life of Achilles. This though seems to be taking a new twist when Achilles is now in isolation and away from the army. He begins to question the reason as to why he should be fighting for glory all by himself since he is now beginning to believe that a man still dies even if he has done nothing. It is as a consequence of these thoughts that Achilles is beginning to appreciate more the idea of family, friendship and even the society as a whole. This begins to be more vivid to Achilles as he relates more with Patroklos. It is more apparent though that after the death of Patroklos that the deeper and emotional issue of love sinks in Achilles. It is due to the new self that he has become that he feels responsible for avenging the death of Patroklos. As a matter of fact, the death lets Achilles realize the pain that was felt by the society when he withdrew from the war. It is during this process of avenging the death of Patroklos that Achilles gets into the confrontation with Hektor.   

It is clear that the anger shown in Achilles is very effective in determining the nature and flow of the epic. This is regardless of whether Achilles is sulking or being violent. This is indicated at its highest level in the battle that Achilles involves with the river. Although the river god has been personified, the scenes at this point are very meaningful and powerful. At this point, we meet Achilles as an individual that has over reached himself. As part of the punishment, Achilles is denying the Trojans the right to bury Hektor and it is in regard to this that the river go is intervening. The river god is aiming at drowning Achilles, burying him in the mud and even denying him the burial rites for his friend. The violence that is seen in Achilles though soon comes to an end. This is achieved with the death of Hektor and most importantly when Achilles decides to mutilate Hektor’s corpse. At this point, the gods on the other hand have returned to their orderly state. They are not impressed with Achilles’ persistence with violence and lack of pity in Hektor’s corpse. The gods intervene and it is through Zeus that Achilles is finally brought to rest in terms of violence. At the end, he is exhausted with violence and continues range. This ends his passion and it is at this point that he gives up Hektor’s corpse.

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