The Iliad, written by the ancient Greek poet Homer, is an epic poem that tells the story of the Trojan War. The central theme of the Iliad is the anger, or wrath, of Achilles, a great warrior in the Greek army. In this essay, we will discuss the causes of Achilles’ anger, how it affects the story, and what it reveals about ancient Greek society.
The Wrath of Achilles is the main driving force behind the events of the Iliad. Achilles is a skilled warrior and a leader among the Greek forces, but his pride and sense of honor are wounded when his commander, Agamemnon, takes away his prized possession, a young Trojan woman named Briseis. This insult to Achilles’ honor causes him to withdraw from the battle and refuse to fight for the Greek army. This decision puts his fellow soldiers at a disadvantage, as they are now missing their greatest warrior.
Achilles’ anger is not just directed at Agamemnon, but also at the gods themselves. When his best friend Patroclus is killed by the Trojan prince Hector, Achilles is consumed by grief and seeks revenge. He turns to his mother, the sea goddess Thetis, who helps him to get new armor and weapons from the god Hephaestus. With this new equipment, Achilles re-enters the battle and slays Hector, exacting his revenge.
The impact of Achilles’ wrath on the story is significant. His decision to withdraw from battle creates a power vacuum within the Greek army, and the Trojans are able to gain ground. The death of Patroclus, and Achilles’ subsequent revenge, lead to a turning point in the war, as the Trojans begin to lose ground and are eventually defeated. The events of the Iliad, and the anger of Achilles, set the stage for the fall of Troy and the end of the Trojan War.
The wrath of Achilles also reveals important aspects of ancient Greek society. Honor and pride were highly valued in ancient Greek culture, and insults to one’s honor could not be ignored. Achilles’ anger at Agamemnon’s insult to his honor reflects this cultural value. Additionally, the gods played an important role in ancient Greek society, and their influence is felt throughout the Iliad. The intervention of Thetis and Hephaestus in helping Achilles to obtain new armor and weapons underscores the belief that the gods could intercede in the affairs of mortals.
In conclusion, the wrath of Achilles is the central theme of the Iliad, and its impact on the story is significant. The causes of Achilles’ anger, his withdrawal from battle, and subsequent revenge all drive the events of the epic poem. The story also reveals important aspects of ancient Greek society, including the value placed on honor and the influence of the gods. The Iliad remains a powerful and influential work of literature, and the wrath of Achilles continues to capture the imagination of readers today.