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Realism is one of the most important writing styles that entails bringing out characters in literary works as close to human beings as possible in terms of their character as well as behavior in day to day life. This method has been applied by several great writers, such as Homer, among them. Major themes in The Iliad by Homer spun around Achilles who is considered as the greatest fighter and warrior in the Achaean army.
The author uses Achilles as a bold character for building all the major themes in the poem; hence he is the most realistic character in The Iliad. From the text, Achilles is presented as a character with a lot of rage and anger, a pattern of behavior common for many people in the real world. As Agamemnon, commander-in-chief of the Achaean Army exchanged harsh words with Achilles, the king declared to take Breseis who was Achilles’ prize away.
The King’s words triggered Achilles’ anger, and the warrior thought, “Should he draw out the sharp sword on his thigh, incite the crowd, kill Atreus’ son, or suppress his rage, control his fury? As he argued in his mind and heart, he slid his huge sword part way from its sheath” (Homer 210). However, due to the intervention of Athena who had to descend from heaven to make Achilles calm down from his rage, the fight did not happen.
The author brings out Achilles’ rage so clearly because he got angry because of Agamemnon’s words to a point where he went for his sword, ready for a fight. Anger is a negative human emotion, and many people when they are angry start fighting to deal shortly with the person who made them angry. As the author describes the anger of Achilles, the character becomes more real for it is common that people engage in fights as a way to express their anger.
A very important part of humanity is love, which is an emotion of strong affection and personal attachment. Everyone who loves feels good if he/she is loved in return. Love is a part of survival instinct as a means to bring people together, hence promoting the continuation of human species. Achilles’ realistic nature as a character is evident when the author shows how much he loved the girl, Breseis. King Agamemnon sent his men to Achilles’ hut to bring him Breseis; as well he offered Achilles to give the girl himself (Homer 360).
Achilles chose the send option, he led Breseis out of the hut and gave her to the king’s messengers, but he did so against his will. And after that, he sat by the shore and stared at the sea with his eyes full of tears (Homer 350). The fact that Achilles cried after giving away the girl is a clear sign of love. Achilles loved Breseis, and that’s why the warrior was so emotional, such behavior is so conspicuous in humans. It is common for people who love to express their emotions in such a way, especially after losing the beloved done as this is a part of humanity that cannot be removed or overlooked.
Being able to fall in love and expressing one’s grief reinforce the fact that Achilles is the most realistic character in the poem as he has the same emotions and feelings as real human beings have. Achilles also loved his mother very much. The author reveals to us that after losing the girl, Achilles went to his mother and explained to her everything as he wept (Homer 390). Filial love is the love a child feels towards his/her parents, and this type of love is shown in Achilles because the first person he went to for assistance when troubled was his mother.
Achilles is also depicted in the poem as a religious person despite his anger and rage. This is evident as after releasing Breseis to Agamemnon’s messengers, the pain on his heart was so great that he lifted his hands and cried loud several times as he was praying to his mother, Thetis (Homer 350). Achilles felt alone, and the best answer he had at the moment was to seek assistance from the gods.
Knowing the relationship between his mother and Zeus, the main god, he asked his mother to talk to Zeus so that he may have regained his honor. (Homer 410). Religion includes beliefs and cultural systems that are very much related to humanity. Through religion, humans believe in the existence of supreme beings from whom we seek assistance when in trouble. In the ancient Greek world, as shown in The Iliad, gods and goddesses are present in people’s everyday lives, and people (mortals) honor the gods and expect to get favors in return.
The author presents people’s belief in a supreme being not only as a theme in the poem but also as a part of Achilles’ character. This emulates our real everyday life as humans making Achilles a more realistic character in the poem while reading the poem. Being religious and god-fearing, Achilles obeyed Athena’s words when she stopped him from fighting Agamemnon and returned the sword in its scabbard. (Homer 240).
The characteristics seen in Achilles are more or less evident in a lot of people, and the author uses Achilles to show human nature. Human nature refers to the ways humans naturally think, feel, and act. Human happiness is strongly related to having close friends, family and, most importantly, a partner. The urge to have a partner is very strong in humans. From this paper, the characteristic feature of humans to be able to love is seen in Achilles as he clearly loved Breseis and his mother.
This paper also shows Achilles’ anger as he got angry to a point of fighting Agamemnon despite the fact that Agamemnon was his king. Many people would be equally angry if put in the same position. This adds on to the thought that Achilles is the most realistic character in the poem. As shown earlier in this paper, humans tend to believe in some Supreme Being, and it results in creating some religion. The paper shows how Achilles prayed to Zeus when troubled, meaning he believed in Gods just as other humans do. This paper depicts Achilles having attributes that make him more human hence more realistic than the other characters in the poem
Fisher, Helen. Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2004. Print.
Homer. The Iliad. Trans. Chapman. Hertforshire: Wordsworth Editions. 2003. Print.