Achilles

The greatest warrior of all time ?

Every man has a Vunarbility

Achilles sacrificing to Zeus, from the Ambrosian Iliad, a 5th-century illuminated manuscript

Homer's Iliad is the most famous narrative of Achilles' deeds in the Trojan War. Achilles' wrath is the central theme of the poem. The Homeric epic only covers a few weeks of the war, and does not narrate Achilles' death. It begins with Achilles' withdrawal from battle after he is dishonored by Agamemnon, the commander of the Achaean forces. Agamemnon had taken a woman named Chryseis as his slave. Her father Chryses, a priest of Apollo, begs Agamemnon to return her to him. Agamemnon refuses and Apollo sends a plague amongst the Greeks. The prophet Calchas correctly determines the source of the troubles but will not speak unless Achilles vows to protect him. Achilles does so and Calchas declares Chryseis must be returned to her father. Agamemnon consents, but then commands that Achilles' battle prize Briseis be brought to him to replace Chryseis. Angry at the dishonor of having his plunder and glory taken away (and as he says later, because he loved Briseis),[13] with the urging of his mother Thetis, Achilles refuses to fight or lead his troops alongside the other Greek forces. At this same time, burning with rage over Agamemnon's theft, Achilles prays to Thetis to convince Zeus to help the Trojans gain ground in the war, so that he may regain his honor.

As the battle turns against the Greeks, thanks to the influence of Zeus, Nestor declares that the Trojans are winning because Agamemnon has angered Achilles, and urges the king to appease the warrior. Agamemnon agrees and sends Odysseus and two other chieftains, Ajax and Phoenix, to Achilles with the offer of the return of Briseis and other gifts. Achilles rejects all Agamemnon offers him, and simply urges the Greeks to sail home as he was planning to do.

The Trojans, led by Hector, subsequently push the Greek army back toward the beaches and assault the Greek ships. With the Greek forces on the verge of absolute destruction, Patroclus leads the Myrmidons into battle wearing Achilles' armor, though Achilles remains at his camp. Patroclus succeeds in pushing the Trojans back from the beaches, but is killed by Hector before he can lead a proper assault on the city of Troy.

Triumphant Achilles dragging Hector's lifeless body in front of the Gates of Troy (from a panoramic fresco on the upper level of the main hall of the Achilleion).

After receiving the news of the death of Patroclus from Antilochus, the son of Nestor, Achilles grieves over his beloved companion's death and holds many funeral games in his honor. His mother Thetis comes to comfort the distraught Achilles. She persuades Hephaestus to make new armor for him, in place of the armor that Patroclus had been wearing which was taken by Hector. The new armor includes the Shield of Achilles, described in great detail in the poem.

Enraged over the death of Patroclus, Achilles ends his refusal to fight and takes the field killing many men in his rage but always seeking out Hector. Achilles even engages in battle with the river god Scamander who becomes angry that Achilles is choking his waters with all the men he has killed. The god tries to drown Achilles but is stopped by Hera and Hephaestus. Zeus himself takes note of Achilles' rage and sends the gods to restrain him so that he will not go on to sack Troy itself before the time allotted for its destruction, seeming to show that the unhindered rage of Achilles can defy fate itself. Finally, Achilles finds his prey. Achilles chases Hector around the wall of Troy three times before Athena, in the form of Hector's favorite and dearest brother, Deiphobus, persuades Hector to stop running and fight Achilles face to face. After Hector realizes the trick, he knows the battle is inevitable. Wanting to go down fighting, he charges at Achilles with his only weapon, his sword, but misses. Accepting his fate, Hector begs Achilles, not to spare his life, but to treat his body with respect after killing him. Achilles tells Hector it is hopeless to expect that of him, declaring that "my rage, my fury would drive me now to hack your flesh away and eat you raw – such agonies you have caused me".[14] Achilles then kills Hector and drags his corpse by its heels behind his chariot during Patroclus' funeral games.

With the assistance of the god Hermes, Hector's father, Priam, goes to Achilles' tent to plead with Achilles for the return of Hector's body so that he can be buried. Achilles relents and promises a truce for the duration of the funeral. The poem ends with a description of Hector's funeral, with the doom of Troy and Achilles himself still to come.

Penthesilea[edit]

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