Thursday, December 3, 2009

Finally?

Final Exam: The Iliad Criticism
Reference the epic poem The Iliad and respond to the question below.
Wallace Gray writes that, “The Iliad is not about the Trojan War; that war lasted ten years and the central actions of the poem occupy only a few weeks. War brutalizes men and women, wounds their bodies and minds, enslaves and kills them. This is Homer's message as he focuses on one hero, Achilleus, to demonstrate wrath's destruction of self and others. Achilleus' moral journey in the Iliad brings him face to face with his own humanity, leading him to a startling and essentially unheroic act of generosity toward his enemy. When he gives Priam the dead and mutilated body of Hektor, ...”


Is Achilles a hero? Respond to this criticism by: (1) addressing his heroic qualities/ alignment with studied heroic elements; (2) addressing his unheroic qualities (think of the aspects of heroes we’ve studied in class); and (3) compare him SPECIFICALLY to one of the other heroes/heroines in The Iliad or another myth we have studied. Reaction? Thoughts? This makes me think…? Etc…?

29 comments:

MeganOD said...

Overall, Achilles is not a hero. After fighting Hector, he dragged Hectors body behind his chariot, which was not respectful. A trait that Achilles had was hubris, which is included in the heroic code; however, I do not believe that hubris is a trait that a real hero has. Achilles was a talents fighter but his ego was too large; at times he even believed himself better than the king. As compared to Hector, Achilles was much less of a hero.

Tasha P said...

I think that Achilles was a hero at the beginning of the war, but as the years went by the horrors of war and destruction affected him and the heroic elements that he once possessed became shrouded by greed and almost evil sentiments. He went into the Trojan war as the best warrior in all of Greece, and an honorable one too. But it seems that as the war progressed, he got less honorable, like when he disrespected Hector's dying requests and his dead body. He might have too much hubris, and thinks that he doesn't have to follow the heroic code anymore, or perhaps he was just driven by rage to do this. Either way, Achilles's honor lessened with these acts and he ended up being less of a hero than he started with.

danielb2010 said...

I think that Achilles is a hero because he does something heroic in giving back the dead and mutilated body of Hektor. He shows real honor in doing this even though he promised Hektor when he killed him that he would never give his body back. He does however have a bit of a hubris because he gets arrogant when he is fighting him and ends up getting killed by a lucky shot from Paris.

If you compare Achilles to Odysseus it makes you wonder which is the more heroic. Achilles dies for his country while Odysseus sails home after the war to continue his quest for fame and fortune. Achilles quest was completed but he never really got to finish his life because of one stray lucky arrow. I believe that they both have heroic qualities and that they both are true definitions of heros.

NatalieJ said...

1) Achilles definitely shows excessive pride and a desire for something bigger:fame and glory. He takes a journey and faces many trials which he needs to overcome to succeed. I would classify him as a tragic hero. He tries so hard to achieve his goal that he makes choices that ultimately ruin him in the end.
2)Achilles is not heroic in his brutal treatment of Hector. In Greek culture, death is a big deal and the bodies of people who have died need to be treated with respect. Achilles treatment of Hectors body, and refusal of his final requests makes him act in a non heroic manner which ultimately leads to his downfall.
3)Achilles could be compared to Jason in his willingness to do anything to get what he desired. Jason tricked Medea and treated her more like a resource that a lover. His greed not only lead to his demise, but to Medeas as well. This compares to the downfall of both Achilles and of Hector

C to tha OLE Ken said...

Achilles is far from a hero. A hero is a critical thinker and Achilles is not. He makes decisions and acts upon his emotions which can be self destructive, especially during a time of war. At the beginning of the war we see a cowardly attempt to avoid war by Achilles when he disguises himself as a woman. Later in the war we then see Achilles disgrace the code of war when in an emotional rage he drags hectors dead body behind a chariot. Then he "generously" gives the body back to Priam, hectors father. Achilles is not a hero, hes a coward.

Levi S said...

I think Achilles is a hero because though he killed Hector in a violent way for revenge of his dead cousin, he eventually felt remorse when the Trojan king Priam came and begged him to let him bury his son. many people after suffering that kind of loss would naturally act the same way as Achilles did. Achilles entered the war for the sole purpose of being recognized, an element of the heroic code and also shows compassion for his enemy despite what Hector had done to his cousin. Hector also attempted to show respect for Achilles if the battle had turned out differently offering to give him the proper burial rituals if instead Achilles had been slain. This makes Hector a hero and Achilles ultimately did the same for him making him a hero as well

kaytlinr said...

I think that Achilles fills the requirements of a hero, however, I do not think that he should be considered one. I fully agree with what Wallace Gray said about Homer's hero. Initially I thought that Achilles was a hero, but after I read the part about what he did to the corpse of Hector made me change my mind. I don't think that someone who can treat people in that manner should be allowed to be considered a hero.

alex_a said...

Achilles has many heroic qualities, but they do not necessarily make him a hero. He was extremely brave and went to war even though he knew that he would die if he went, and to bee very courageous is heroic. Also, he was the greatest warrior in all of the world at the time, which is another heroic quality exemplified by Achilles. However he is very unheroic at times as well. When he killed hector, he refused to treat his body in an honorable way, and instead dragged it around the city of Troy behind his chariot. This was a very unheroic act of Achilles because it was extremely dishonorable. Achilles is much more like Hercules than Theseus or Odysseus, because he only uses his brute strength and seeks fights, while many times he doesn't think before he acts, but instead acts without any self control and simply from adrenaline. Achilles is a Greek hero, even though he has faults.

Dalton said...

I think that Achilles is a hero he is a brave warrior and he now shows compassion to the enemy and gives the body back which helps ease the kings and the cities grief so he can have a funeral. i think this makes him more of a hero because he was able to get past his pride and she generosity. i see hektor as some what of a hero in th illiad he stands up for his empire and he knows he is probably going to lose be his pride and love for his empire draw him into battle. the only difference between Hektor and Achilles is that hector died and also if hektor had killed Achilles he would have give Achilles body back.

Tyler M said...

Yes he is portrayed as one of the greatest hero's in the world. He led my Greek's to their victories in battle, a hero trait that Achilles has is Hubris, another great hero that can be compared by him is Hercules. Because he was also one of the greatest hero's ever to live. But compared to Hercules Achilles is nothing.

Tabitha M said...

Yes Achilles was a strong warrior who helped the Greeks conquer the Trojans. However the heroes we discussed in class all killed monsters and were not known for their battles in war. Achilles had no magical items and never fought creatures, his heroism was "real". The hero Theseus kills the minotaur, bands centaurs, saves Aegeus's life and stops Hercules from killing himself. Achilles never fights creatures for all his battles are with men. Also Achilles does not venture to new places seeking answers. Achilles home is the mortal battlefield with some help from the gods. I would more likely believe the story of Achilles over Theseus's story.

kevint said...

I would say that you could consider Achilles a hero. Achilles fights for what he believes in and would willingly die for those beliefs His main goal in life is to be remembered through out all time, and tower over his enemies. I would probably compare Hector to Achilles out of the hero's through out the Iliad. They both were intense warriors and strove to be better in the art of war.

BryceR said...

Achilles proves not to be so much a hero at the end of the Trojan War. Achilles drags Hektor on the back of his chariot and denies Hektors last words telling him to give his body back to his mother and father. Achilles upholds the heroic code by being the best warrior of Greece and he does aspire to be the best in Greece but even the Gods don;t approve his actions after defeating Hektor. In the text, it states that Zeus was even displeased. Connecting to other heroes such as Hercules who defeated many beastly enemies (Hydra, Lion of Nemea, Bull of Crete, etc) who was unbeatable and perfected excellence.

Connor said...

Achilles is a true hero. He went to war, knowing all along that he was going to die. He sacrificed himself for his country and for glory. He had the desire to be recognized and he wished to be immortal.Achilles worked for prizes and fame, and tried not to lose his honor. He also had a lot of Arete.

He did have some unheroic qualities however. From time to time, he let his emotions get the better of him. Heroes aren't moved by their emotions, but by what has to be done. Achilles did not do the honorable thing after his fight with Hector. In stead of giving his body back to his family, he dragged it around Troy. After he calmed down, however, he gave it back.

In many ways, Achilles was similar to the greatest hero, Hercules. Both were strong and let their emotions get the better of them. Also, both try hard to do what is right and what is needed to be done.

TrevorRo said...

I'm behind on my reading, but in Gray's quote he states Achilles is unheroic by being generous to the enemy which is interesting because a personality of a hero should be generally generous and kind. A hero should also be moral. He doesn't conduct a whole lot of moral actions. He changes after all the death and destruction which is good, but his "moral" status doesn't show one of being a hero like Theseus and Perseus and killing Medusa and such.

Overall, If Achilles was a true hero he would have done his tasks with respect which he did not.

Andrewg said...

Although Achilles does not exemplify all of the elements of the heroic code, he still a great hero of the Greek time. The heroic code includes things such as sustaining a good guest/host relationship. A hero also seeks hubris and arete. Achilles fulfills most of these qualities. A rare expression of mercy was shown after he killed the prince Hector, that went against the heroic code. This one act alone does not take away his hero status. Achilles is often a lot like Hercules throughout the Illiad. He never backs down from a challenge, and lets emotion get the best of him. Particularly when his best friend is killed by Hector in battle. Achilles and Hercules are not perfect heroes, but the certainly are great Greek heroes.

JR_Hanson said...

I dont think that Achilles is a hero in an overall point of view. But to the Greeks i think that in a way he would be looked at as a hero. hector said he would give back his body to his family if he won, and Achilles refused to do that for him as well. In this way Hector seemed more like an honorable hero.

mattw said...

I believe Achilles is a hero, because he has many heroic qualities; the most obvious being his supernatural strength and fighting ability, not to mention his near immortality. He also faces danger and suffering, even though it is arbitrary and unfruitful. He is told by a prophet before he ever even enters battle, that he WILL be killed, and yet he fights anyway. He has a large amount of heroic pride, and plays the role of guest. His only non-heroic act was dragging Hector behind his horse after Achilles won their fight.

Mphair said...

Achilles refuses to give Hector's body to his people after he has killed him. Further more I feel he violates...something...by so completely and extremely destroying Hector's body. Hector is already dead, already had the armor stripped from him. What else should be done? They both showed bouts of great honor, and moments of weakness. I feel that Hector would have (ok, MAYBE) shown Achilles respect for the great warrior he is, and should have received the same in return.

Despite my dislike of his reactions/actions concerning Hector, Achilles shows many qualities of a hero. He searches for his place among warriors, does not want to loose face amongst his comrades, yet follows what he believes is the best route. It's hard to argue his search for immortality due to his knowledge of his impending death in this war.

He also avenges Patroclus who fights in the beginning of the final battle in Achilles' place.

ShelbyG said...

There are various qualities that could and don't make Achilleus a hero. Some heroic elements that he has are: the desire to be recognized, part of a warrior society, Arete, his quest for immortality (he wants his name to live on forever), and he may (or may not) be accused of Hubris. However, he defies the guest and host relationship, which is a quality that does not make him a hero. He refuses proper burial rights for Hector providing no compassion. He eventually releases the body in the hands of King Priam, but even if he redeemed himself is that something to look over when calling Achilleus a hero? Theseus accused his son of killing his wife and had his son exiled. He had all of the qualities of a hero that Achilleus had as well until they both hit a downfall. Theseus's host killed him (King Lycomedes) and Achilleus's host killed him in his city (Paris).

CamilleH said...

Achilles has heroic qualities such as hubris and will to be the best fighter. Achilles also has some very unheroic qualities and he is incredibly full of himself. He even believes himself to be equal to the king. He begins the war as a hero but as the war rages on his ego becomes greater and greater and he goes as far as not granting Hector's dying wish. Instead he mutilates Hector's body which is not heroic by anyone's standards. Achilles is less heroic than Protesilaus. Protesilaus steps onto shore first although he knows it will end in his death. He is willing to die for the rest of the warriors in his country. Achilles dies in battle, but he is very unwilling to die for his country and doesn't believe that he can be defeated.

ChristinaC said...

Yes I do think that Archilles is a hero because he had to face humanity. "...brings him face to face with his own humanity..." and so facing what's within yourself is a step closer to becoming a hero. Compared to Theseus, Archilles isn't that great of a hero. Theseus had many great adventures and has done many heroic deeds. Such as sailing on the Argo to find the Golden Fleece, he took part in the great Calydonian Hunt to kill the terrible boar which was laying waste on King Calydon's land. So compared to Theseus, Archilles didn't do as much or as many great deeds Theseus has done. Archilles knows from what is right and wrong, he saved Chryseis but with that Agamemnon took away his prize of honor, the maiden Briseis. It shows that he wanted to do what's right even if it meant giving up something of his.

ElizabethG said...

I believe Achilles is a hero. He was the best warrior in the Greek ranks and many men looked up to him. I do believe though, that he committed some irresponsible actions that caused his downfall, and eventually his death. By sitting out and fighting with Agamemnon, he demonstrated that he had a tremendous ego and he wasn't willing to accept Agamemnon's flaws where other hero's were more willing to accept other peoples' flaws in their characters; such as Theseus. Theseus was willing to work with Hercules even though Hercules's character was flawed with the thoughts of suicide. Achilles also defaced his idleness when he dragged Hector's body around the walls of troy. It demonstrated weakness. However; many other heroes demonstrate weakness, such as Hercules when he fell for Hera's magic and killed his family, as well as falling to his inner emotions by wanting to commit suicide. Achilles eventually died like all the other heroes, and accepted his death.

Coleh said...

I believe that at the beginning of the Trojan War, Achilles was a hero because he was willing to die for his country. Though through the years he was reluctant to fight against the Trojans because he was too ashamed of his own wrong doings, which made him less of a hero. He also was not respectable to Hecotr's body after his death and did not follow the heroic code in that manner.

Nickp said...

Achilles is a hero, he directly characterizes almost every part of the heroic code: In his warrior society, he is the greatest warrior in history. He desires to be recognized, using his fighting prowess and eccentricity to gain fame. He has nearly gained immortality in body, and in word he has come to live forever in our minds. Though his idea of honor may have been skewed, for him to feel as though he lost it would be worse than death. And through war and its spoils, Achilles pursues fame and fortune. But as an honorable man Achilles is much less "heroic" than Theseus who risked his own life to save others.

MikeW. said...

Achilles is a hero because his actions were just and reasonable. He is faithful to his companions and military partners. Achilles is humble and very powerful so he has the true attitude of a hero. Achilles annihilated Hektor and meets his father Priam. He does not humiliate the dead body but instead gives it back to Priam. This shows respect and nobility in Achilles which a true hero must have. Achilles follows his own rules and does not completely obey orders, but that's just a part of being a hero. A hero usually works alone and does not need the assistance of others.
Achilles is not like Odysseus at all in the story, the Iliad. Odysseus is obedient and very well balanced, while Achilles is unique and unbalanced who does not obey orders. Odysseus was the only chieftain to return because the rest did not choose to leave. Achilles was one of these chieftains which shows that he is more of a 'free soul' than Odysseus. Achilles is not loved like Odysseus is. Odysseus has a wife named Penelope, Achilles is alone. Odysseus is a great leader and depends upon his army, Achilles is a great soldier alone and does not require the help of his comrades. Achilles is a true hero because of

LauraM said...

1) Achilles displays the qualities of a hero that include, his desire to be recognized, having his identity be part of the warrior society(as he is the best warrior of that time), and he displayed excessive hubris, which eventually led to his downfall. He also gained immortality as we have all at least heard of Achilles.
2) After killing Hector, Achilles has no respect for the body and mutilates it by dragging it behind his chariot around the city of troy. This kind of blatant disrespect in not honoring the deceased last wishes is very unheroic.
3) Achilles is much like Hercules, in that they were both known to be great warriors. Both Achilles and Hercules have a great weakness; Achilles with his heal, and Hercules in that he could not overcome his own feelings and that he killed his family on the trickery of Hera. Achilles name is immortal, and more often than not he is considered a hero. Maybe we just decide to remember the good things?

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