Comparison of the Figure of Achilles with Odysseus and Gilgamesh - Research Paper Example

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Aristotle once said that “the man who is incapable of working in common, or who in his self-sufficiency has no need of others, is no part of the community” (Homer), and is like a beast or a God. Self-sufficiency can be defined as the ability to maintain oneself without dependency on others…
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Comparison of the Figure of Achilles with Odysseus and Gilgamesh
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Download file to see previous pages In Edel’s view, the definition of self-sufficiency cannot be limited with a mere reference to the 'self' of a man. It also involves the society in which he lives that comprises his parents, children, wife, friends and fellow citizens, "since man is by nature a social and political being" (Johnston par. 8). This paper is an attempt to compare and analyze the heroic figures Achilles and Odysseus, in the light of Aristotle’s statement. The thesis statement of this paper is that Achilles is a self-sufficient god-like figure, when compared to Odysseus, who constantly fights to reach his homeland and reclaim his family and home. Homer is the author of the 'Iliad' and the 'Odyssey', the two major Greek epic poems that form a significant part of ancient history and classic literature. The Iliad deals with the incidents that take place in the tenth year of the Trojan War, with special emphasis to the famous Greek warrior Achilles.Odyssey, on the other hand, deals with the return of Odysseus, the King of Ithaca, in post-Trojan War. Achilles and Odysseus are considered as the greatest Achaean heroes of Trojan War. Odysseus is a great leader, orator, and tactician; whereas Achilles is a daring warrior, who is proud of his abilities. Homer does not portray Achilles and Odysseus in generic human forms. His heroes are men who are warriors, consistently indulging in activities that require unique traits and qualities, beyond the deeds of normal human forms. Homer portrays Achilles and Odysseus as men possessing different distinguishing qualities that make them absolutely fit for the ancient Greek notion of 'heroes'. According to Lash, a hero possesses "a consistent capacity for action that surpasses the norm of man or woman" (Lash 5). Lash also states that a hero is not superior to human norms. A man is defined 'hero' with regard to his “traits and unique style of action [that]mark him as having 'arete', excellence. In excelling and exceeding himself, the hero becomes a model of higher potential for his clan, his race, his nation, and even for humanity at large" (Lash 5). Homer’s heroes are therefore males of exceptional abilities, with a great potential to excel a range of activities, and in doing so, become a source of inspiration to others. Achilles, the son of Peleus and Nereid Thetis, is a mighty warrior with god-like rage, which is uncommon among human forms. Homer mentions Achilles as god-like many a times and attributes the appearance of a God to him. Achilles is a self-sufficient man, as explained by Aristotle, except for his need for women. He is aware of his destiny that the city of Troy cannot be taken without his help, as prophesied by the seer Calchas. Achilles also knows that he is destined to die in the Trojan War. When Agamemnon offers material benefits for his participation in the Trojan War, Achilles replies that his life is more worth than these benefits. The sole aim of Achilles is to become an excellent warrior. He prefers death to dishonor, and yearns for a glorious death in the battlefield. When Agamemnon, takes away Achilles’ war-prize Briseis from him, Achilles turns against Agamemnon and refuses to fight for the Greeks. Achilles of The Iliad, on the other hand, is an archetypal hero who is in charge of the Myrmidons. He becomes arrogant and selfish, and turns against Greek forces. He asks Thetis to plead with Zeus, to bring failure to the Greeks, so that Agamemnon would realize his value. When Briseis is returned to Achilles, he with draws from fighting. Later, he is filled with rage, when Hector kills Patroclus, his friend, who fights in his place. Achilles returns to the fight and kills Hector. In rage, he desecrates the body of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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