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'Describe the characters of Agamemnon and Achilleus as they are revealed in Book 1 of The Iliad. Who do you think was more to blame for their quarrel and its immediate outcome?'

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  • Essay length: 795 words
  • Submitted: 17/08/2003
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AS and A Level Classics

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'Describe the characters of Agamemnon and Achilleus as they are revealed in Book 1 of The Iliad. Who do you think was more to blame for their quarrel and its immediate outcome?'

In book 1 of the Iliad the quarrel between Agamemnon and Achilles establishes their characters. We see Agamemnon and proud and authoritative yet often uncaring and uncompromising. Achilles is by contrast practical, powerful, yet deeply and sometimes dangerously passionate.

Agamemnon is repeatedly unreasonable. When Chryses comes for his daughter (an entirely normal and natural request in the ancient world), Agamemnon does not listen, even though "all the other Achaians shouted their agreement". He is rude and arrogant towards the priest and "sent him... on his way", with threats and taunts about Chryseis, who will "serve my bed".

When Kalchas, who has repeatedly stated that Agamemnon will not like what he says blames Agamemnon for the plague among the Greeks, Agamemnon reacts vehemently. "in deep anger... he spoke... 'prophet of evil, you have never told me anything to your liking".

It is this unreasonable and uncompromising attitude that contributes to his quarrel with Achilles. He persists with his demand for compensation for

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