Achilles' Speech

In: English and Literature

Submitted By ndell
Words 1133
Pages 5
Nicholas Dell
Professor Daniel Richter
CLAS 150g
10 October 2012
Achilles’ Speech
What makes a hero exceptional? What separates heroes from the people around them? Achilles, Agamemnon, Odysseus, and their companions believed in a heroic code of sorts that defined how one should act in order to prove their honor and glory. In the eyes of the ancient Greeks and Trojans, there were two things that defined a hero: the quest for glory and the duty to protect. In Achilles’ speech to his companions Achilles attempts to hold up his own honor while shying away from his duty to protect. This juxtaposition of heroic and anti-heroic behavior creates an internal conflict within Achilles that causes the reader to question how heroic Achilles truly is. By abandoning his duty, Achilles also raises questions about his loyalty to his brothers, companions, society, and his own King. Achilles’ speech raises the question whether certain parts of the heroic code can be ignored or to what extent the code among heroes is actually followed.
Arguably the most important part of the heroic code is kleos. Kleos is glory, prizes, and fame earned through fighting in battle. Achilles deeply desires everlasting kleos, but at what cost? Achilles has two choices according to Thetis, he says,
“Either, if I stay here and fight beside the city of the Trojans, my return home is gone, but my glory shall be everlasting; but if I return home to the beloved land of my fathers, the excellence of my glory is gone, but there will be a long life left for me, and my end in death will not come to me quickly” (9. 411-416).
He makes it clear that he is not willing to fight in the battle, no matter how many gifts he is offered. He would rather remain proud and stay true to his beliefs rather than letting Agamemnon buy him, he even says “not if he gave me gifts as many as the sand or the dust is, not even so…...

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