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What do we learn from this passage about the character of Achilles? Support your arguements with references from the text.

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Introduction

What do we learn from this passage about the character of Achilles? Support your arguements with references from the text. From this short extract from Homer's Iliad we, the audience, are allowed an insight into the mind of Achilleus and his relationship with other characters, both mortals and gods. Lines 84 to 87 describe Achilleus' parentage; we discover he is the product of a marriage between the sea-nymph Thetis and the mortal Peleus. His link to the gods through his mother automatically grants the hero an unusual relationship with them. In the first four lines of this extract (70 to 74) we witness a scene where Achilleus laments the death of his friend, Patroklos. According to line 71 Achilleus sighed and, "cried out shrill and aloud". The language Homer uses conveys a sense of utter misery and regret. Throughout the poem we witness numerous examples of Achilleus' rage or pride resulting in an outburst from the hero. The intensity of these emotions is matched by that of his despair at the death of his comrade. It is unusual in works of this time for a hero, such as Achilleus, to have this side of his character revealed. ...read more.

Middle

Achilleus realises that he is but a mere mortal and a pawn in the games of the gods despite his parentage. He is happy to accept his fate not only because he realises there is nothing he can do to prevent it, the gods being all powerful, but also because he hopes to die a glorious death. Another part of Achilleus character is coming forth from the text at this point. He is trying to satisfy his desire for honour and eternal glory by dying a hero's death on the battlefield. This mixture of pride and bloodlust combined with his desire for revenge are what drives Achilleus to put his armour back on and rejoin the fighting. This is confirmed in the line, "Now I must win excellent glory". Ultimately he is willing to sacrifice everything including his life so that his name might be remembered. To conclude, Achilleus is a great hero who places great emphasis on his honour and pride. He has very intense emotions, Achilleus cares deeply for those whom he counts as friends but is completely without mercy to his enemies. Achilles is the greatest Homeric hero. How does he differ from a typical 21st century AD hero? ...read more.

Conclusion

Modern heroes are more likely to be found on the sport field than the battlefield. If Achilleus and the Iliad were to be transported through time into a modern setting it is most likely that the Greeks and the Trojans would be opposing football teams with Hector and Achilleus and their star players. It should not be said that modern society does not need or have a taste for heroes. Heroes are the people we look up to and idolise as perfect human beings. Heroes, or to use a more modern term, role models are an essential part of society as they give the remainder of the population a goal to achieve and someone to emulate. The Myceneans would have all wished to be as glorious as Achilleus and die in battle whereas we would all wish to be as famous as Michael Owen and score the winning goal in a world cup final. To conclude, the development of civilisation has bought with it a more developed and different set of moral values. These have meant that it is no longer considered noble to slay large numbers of people and die on the battlefield, the noble people of today's society prevent wars and death. The attitudes have so far changed that the character Homer wrote of as a hero would now be thought of as a threat to civilised society and would be tried for war crimes. ...read more.

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