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Achilles' Sacrifices in the Iliad

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Achilles' Sacrifices in The Iliad Traditionally, all great heroes have sacrificed one thing or another. The Greeks, being a very anthropocentric people who worshipped the power and ability of humans, created many great works of literature of heroism, Homer being one of these great writers. In his epic poem, The Iliad, Homer writes of many great heroes and warriors who would sacrifice everything to achieve kleos, immortal glory. One of these ideal, perfect characters is Achilles, a strong, ideal male warrior who seeks to do acts of justice. Achilles sacrifices much of his former personality characterized by arrogance and becomes a new person as a whole in order to fulfill the after-death wishes of his most cherished friend, Patroclus. Near the beginning of The Iliad, after Achilles had been wronged by Agamemnon, Achilles has a deep-rooted antipathy towards Agamemnon and refuses to participate in battle despite the fact that the Greeks may suffer defeat without him. ...read more.


In accepting Agamemnon's gifts, Achilles gives up his dignity by illustrating that he is not above Agamemnon no matter how much it costs. Achilles promulgates that he will not bury Patroclus until he brings back "the armor and head of Hector who killed" Patroclus (Homer 166). With the death of Patroclus, Achilles rids of his pride and his more emotional side shines through. Achilles, by becoming audacious by allowing his emotions to get the better of him, devotes the remainder of his life to slaying Hector and avenging Patroclus. Because of his strong determination to make reprisal for Patroclus' death, Achilles "accepts" his fate "whenever it pleases Zeus" and decides to "lie down in death" (Homer 161). Achilles' acceptance of his fate to die with undying glory (kleos) shows his willingness to defeat the Trojans once more so that Patroclus does not die in vain. Because Achilles accepts his fate, his purpose transforms from one who is selfishly fixated on sustaining his internal pride to being a great, honorable warrior. ...read more.


After receiving the vision from Patroclus about Patroclus' real desire after death, Achilles realizes that the solution to avenging Patroclus' death was not by channeling his menis into the hating of Hector, but to bury Hector and have philotes towards Priam. By honoring Priam and sacrificing his deep emotions of hatred, Achilles carries out his dead friend's wishes despite him not favoring the idea. With the extreme motivation caused by Patroclus behind his back, Achilles sacrifices his entire personality for his dead friend, causing the tables to turn in the war and the peaceful mind of Priam. By renouncing his pride and recanting his ill feelings towards the warrior who had killed his best friend, Achilles fulfills the wishes of many and learns to have respect. Achilles, realizing that fate cannot be changed, chooses to fight and die instead of a less honorable death. In order to be a hero, some sort of sacrifice must take place, whether it be some money, a cherished belonging, or even life itself. ...read more.

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