The Iliad Book Analysis English Literature Essay

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In this passage, Book 9 of the "Iliad", we are presented with Agamemnon's council following the alleged order, by Zeus, that the Greek armies should return home. Agamemnon, however, wishes to fight on, and it is apparent to him that Achilles and the Myrmanods are pivotal to the potential success of the Greeks in battling the Trojans. On Nestors advice, King Agamemnon recruits "the royal tactician" Odysseus to lead a group of messengers , whos purpose is to persuade Achilles to rejoin the Acheans in battle. Odysseus employs classical oratory - to which he is famous for- in his elaborate appeal to the vengeful Achilles. In his argument, Odysseus explores the notion of "Kleos" as a driving force; he implements the concepts of guilt, shame, honour and social responsibility in a ominous yet brotherly tone; and finally, highlights the material reward -the "Geras"- to be bestowed upon Achilles, if he so chooses to fulfil Thetis' prophecy and fight on, culminating in a hero's death that will echo on in eternity.

"The Great Tactician" closes the first section of this passage with "and then it will be our fate to die in Troy, far from the stallion-land of Argos". By now Odysseus is well into the second stage of oratory, the Narratio. In this stage he details the serious military situation presenting Achilles with the patriotic argument. In this section Odysseus brings "Kleos" into the light of argument. In the ancinet world of heroes, kings and warriors nothing is held on a nobler pedestal than that of glory. Odysseus is promising Achilles no less. Not only does he attach this concept of "Kleos" and honour to his appeal, but likewise he mentions the concequences of inaction. Had Achilles chosen to leave, Odysseus highlights, he would leave behind him a trail of shame ; an internal tumour of guilt only ripe for manifestation. His failure to live up to his status as a hero would plague him "through all the years to come". Odysseus is confident that this, along with previous and future arguments, will serve to drive "fast running" Achilles back onto the field of battle.

Odysseus presents the third oratorical stage to Achilles, the Confirmatio. This part of Odysseus' speech is employed to establish the proof that Achilles staying besides his comrades is ultimately the right decision. This argument primarily consists of the material reward - the "Geras" - and the moral argument. Odysseus highlights the will of Achilles father Peleus; the hero should control his temper for the sake of his comrades. The "Geras" Achilles should recieve is then listed by Odysseus, offering the warrior a plethora of material gain. The most notable offering is the woman, torn from Achilles bed by Agamemnon, Brieses, to which Odysseus assures Achilles that Agamemon has "never once made love with". The ancients concieved of material possesions, whether won in battle, or awarded by a King, as indicators of personal honour. This tactic is employed to illustrate to Achilles his profound worth to Agamemnon and the Greeks. The bounty offered is fit for only the greatest of Heroes and Odysseus has no uncertaintly about the proposal. Achilles however, remains enraged by King Agamemnon for his previous behaviour and rejects the generous offering with "His gifts, I loathe his gifts". Achilles desire for revenge has begun to overwhelm his better judgement by this point and to he, "no wealth is worth [his] life".

Odysseus reaches a conclusion in his speech by returning to the patrioting argument. Achilles rejection is swift and sure. There has been no preparation for such a situation to arise, whereby the persuasion fails. None the less Odysseus, "the great tactitian" accepts diplomatically and returns to Agamemnon with the ill news; continuation of argument would only serve to further alienate Achilles. What we are offered here, is a glimpse into the talents of Odysseus, and to the rage filled mind of Achilles. In final,?? 'in final what?? the embassy return empty handed; the appeal, led by Odysseus fails to incite desire and agreement in Achilles, much to Odysseus' surprise. Ultimately this passage is important in contrasting the men of Homers epic. Odysseus represents order over disorder (Achilles and Agamemnon) acting as a stabilising force among impulsive and vindictive men. Whereas Achilles is the picture of a man who is run by his emotions, lusting for revenge incapable of being reasoned with. For Achilles, he must choose, "Kleos" or "Nostos", although this decision is essentially made internally, rendering Odysseus, Ajax and Phoenix' appeal futile.

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