A Character Comparison of Achilles and Agamemnon

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One of the prevailing themes in the Iliad is the quest for honor and glory. Based on the narrative, a hero is roughly defined by how he performs in battle and upholds his greatness.


The story begins in the midst of war between the Achaians (Greeks) and Trojans. The tale's main character is Achilles, the greatest of the Greek warriors. The Achaians are led by Agamemnon, the army's leader, one who has ushered them to success, Trojan city after Trojan city. Both Achilles and Agamemnon enjoy considerable fame and glory and are regarded as formidable warriors in battle. Consequently, as Greek attitudes go, both heroes also possess excessive prides and explosive tempers. Both are proud and obstinate, and in their argument in Book I, they stubbornly hold on to their wishes--For Agamemnon, to keep his prize in order to not lose face, and for Achilles, that the wrath of the gods be put to a stop. But while Achilles' pride rages after he is slighted, Agamemnon makes every instance a show of his power and kingness. Agamemnon's gall made Achilles very angry, and even contemplated killing the king right that very instant if not for the goddess Athena's intervention. Feeling that his honor has been trampled upon, Achilles decided that he will no longer fight for the Achaian army. He nurses his anger, and asked his mother Thetis to request Zeus to help the Trojans defeat his former comrades. His prideful nature surfaces, but on the other hand, he was treated unjustly by Agamemnon and felt it would be unbecoming of him to continue to fight for such a man. ...
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