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A Question Of Moral In Iliad

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Achilles is morally superior to Agamemnon

The long narrative poem, Iliad, combines the historical events of two legends of the ancient Greek. The two legends are mentioned to be the Greek king, Agamemnon, and the great soldier as well as Greek prince, Achilles. Homer’s Iliad portrays Achilles as possessing a superhuman strength and a close relationship with the gods. Through his superhuman characteristics, he proves the mightiest man in the Achaean army. He is also mentioned to be proud, similarly to the king and commander in chief of the Achaean army, Agamemnon. The two characters resemble in some aspects though Achilles is still morally superior to Agamemnon in many aspects.

Both Achilles and Agamemnon have a similarly hot temper and a flattering streak while Agamemnon comes out to be more arrogant than Achilles. In the poem, Achilles is portrayed as a character who is driven by a thirst for glory since he finds it difficult controlling his pride. Moreover, he possesses all the marks of a great warrior, proving to be the mightiest man in the Achaean army. Apparently, Achilles is willing to sacrifice everything so that he creates history in the military. On the contrary, Agamemnon over uses his influence to let other people feel the effect of his leadership. His is a character who appears to be very opportunistic and has the intention of acquiring the largest portions of the plunder although he does not take high risks in battle. In Homer’s Iliad, Achilles pride flares up after he is forced to withdraw from the war. On the other side, Agamemnon cannot afford to lose his pride no matter what comes his way. He appears to be a selfish leader who does not intend to hand over power despite the availability of other young people who have the leadership skills and are willing to serve. For instance, Agamemnon does not agree to hand over the leadership of the army despite the presence of his younger brother, Menelaus, whose wife, had been stolen from Paris, and has the real grievance against the Trojans (Homer).

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It can, therefore, be argued out that Achilles shows his personal determination to display good morals despite the many challenges that he comes across as a great warrior. The rivalry between Achilles and Agamemnon, in this case, is indirectly caused by the nature of the traditional oral society. Agamemnon was the leader of the Greeks while Achilles was the great warrior who was the most honored for the virtue of his position and prowess in the job. Although Agamemnon was the leader of the Greeks, he wished to be honored just like Achilles. The nature of the traditional society, therefore, put the two legends in Homer’s Iliad at odds.

Achilles does everything possible to let the coming generation remember his name for doing great things in the Achaean army. He is probably willing to sacrifice everything possible so that his name will be remembered. Agamemnon, on the other hand, does not allow the Achaeans to forget his kingly status. He demonstrates the greed for power by refusing to let his brother lead the Achaean army even though he has the real grievance against their enemy. The failure of Agamemnon to hand over power to a more promising candidate makes his moral status very inferior as compared to that of Achilles. Achilles strives to make a positive history by that would give him all the glory in future.

The statement of moral superiority that tends to favor Achilles and condemn Agamemnon is very acceptable. Anybody who reads the poem could come up with an immediate judgment that tends to identify Achilles as the morally superior legend. The poet also tactically brings out his judgment about the two by dwelling on the standards of ethics and customary law, thus creating no doubt about the point of moral superiority in the poem. Agamemnon does not therefore abide by the standards of ethics and customary law as expected by the society; hence he does not qualify to be morally upright. The opposite is true for the case of Achilles. All his doings are aimed at serving the interest of the society even though he shows some sense of pride.

Achilles is committed to those seem to love him but also nasty to those who do him harm. The other character, Agamemnon, appears to be concerned with himself, having the habit of manipulating those around him to do as per his wish. Agamemnon does not show any sense of appreciation to the people whom he rules. Instead, he is apparently looking for more ways in which he can make the best out of the people. Any reader would feel a lot of sympathy for Achilles because of his guanine emotions that also lead him to reconcile with Agamemnon.

The conflict between Achilles and Agamemnon can inform the reader of the independence of the Achilles from Agamemnon. The poet elaborates on the defiance from the Achilles, making it more morally superior than the mighty Agamemnon. Agamemnon is however very dependent the Achilles ability to do what it claims. For example, he is relying on the Achilles willingness to return to the army (Homer).

Achilles values morality than material wealth, as opposed to Agamemnon, who is apparently possessed of worldly riches. The drama is evident when the king attempts to draw Achilles back into the army without offering an apology. The king instead provides material wealth, but the propasal is turned down by Achilles. In response to the offer, Achilles identifies one thing that seems to be missing from the terms set by Agamemnon. From the poem, it is evident that material things could not lure Achilles back into the army. His value for good deeds is extraordinarily evident in his refusal to begin fighting again. Unlike Agamemnon, his pride is worth more than that. The king was proud for his position and his ability to influence the action of other people for his advantage.

From Achilles’ choices, it is arguable that his acts are propelled by private passions while his individualism alienates him from the society and even human identity. Through his relationship with the community, Achilles shapes the moralist commentary of the narrative poem, creating tension between self and civilization. Achilles, therefore, comes out to be a celebrated hero due to the social structure in which he functions in the narrative. The position of the rivalry between Agamemnon and Achilles also brings up the idea of no party willing to quickly give in. Basically, the life of any human being is governed by time; hence Achilles has to repossess what he had lost initially. On the same note, Agamemnon has to lose what he gained.

In a nutshell, Agamemnon differs from Achilles in many aspects relating to the society’s customary laws. Homer’s poem, Iliad, brings out the feud between Agamemnon and Achilles, highlighting the similarities between the two characters. However, the difference in morality standards of the two characters is surprising since they can simply be judged by the reader.

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