Achilles, the grandson of Aeacus was regarded as the greatest and primal character in Homer's Iliad, the ancient epic of Greek mythology. Even though Achilles is the central character of the epic, he is considered to be an unsympathetic character. Achilles was the son of the king of Meymidouns in Phthia, Pelues, and sea nymph Thetis. As the legend goes, Achilles made invincible by his mother Thetis by dipping him in the river Styx, however, ignored to wet his heel she held him by and made him vulnerable to be killed by a blow to that heel. (Achilles [Categories: LGBT mythology, People who fought in the Trojan War]) Homer's Iliad, develops around the Trojan War that spans for ten years between Greeks and the Trojans. Illiad depicts the involvement of gods and goddesses in the lives of mortal beings. (Troy Movie Review: Warner Bros. Troy vs. The Trojan Legend) The story of Iliad develops as a clash between honor and power. King Agamemnon represents the power utilizing the cuckolding of his brother Menalaus, whose wife Helen is stolen away by the Trojan Prince Paris, he attacked Troy. However, his imperial intentions are superseded the pride of his brother in such attack. Achilles represents honor, he is prepared to fight for his family and friends but fed up with the imperial ambitions of Agamemnon. ((Trojan) Horses for courses)
The war occurred as a result of the irresponsible activities of Paris who was the son of Priam, invited to judge a beauty contest between the goddesses Aphrodite, Hera and Athena. Paris adjudged Aphrodite to be the winner since she assured him of the beautiful Helen, the wife of Menelaus. Menelaus was an Achaean chieftain and the Achaean expedition in order to recover Helen's escalates into a full-fledged war waged against the city of Troy. There existed great conflicts among the Achaean hierarchy. A dispute occurred between King Agamemnon and the great warrior Achilles while the Agamemnon puts the Achaean force in danger by disregarding the priest of Apollo. Agamemnon took the daughter of the priest Chryseis as a prize. Chryseis offered a good ransom and appealed return of his daughter that was denied by Agamemnon and accepted to ask Appollo to cut down the Ahaeans with a plague instead. (The Iliad: Character Summary of Homer's The Iliad)
Achilles was greatly hurt by Agammemnon's selfish behavior and stresses upon return of the girl and threatened not to participate in the war of Menelaus. Agamemnon agrees to return Chryeseis however, in return takes away Briseis the wife of Achilles. Achilles was emotionally broken of this event and appeals his mother- the sea nymph Thetis, to intervene in his favor by reminding of an old debt owed her by Zeus and asking him to obstruct the progress of Achaeans in order to punish Agamemnon. Thetis approached Zeus to satisfy the appeals of her son and Zeus assured against the will of his wife Hera, who has a soft corner of Achaean cause. The war continued while Achilles was brooding at home. Achaeans could succeed in bringing down hard upon the Trojans even without the Achilles.
The Trojan leader Hector had to return and pray and offer sacrifices to gods for shifting their luck. Soon there is a turn in the Trojan War in favor of Trojans. The Achaeans had no other alternatives but to request Achilles to join the war. Achilles refuses, however, allows Patroclus his dear friend to lead the army on his behalf, being dressed with his own personal arms. Patroclus fighting bravely could succeed in turning the battle in the Achaean's favor however, with interferences of Appollo he was killed by Hector. The death of his friend impelled Achilles to return to the battle so as to inflict retribution upon Hector. However, Achaean had no arms, as Hector had stripped them off the body of Patroclus. His mother Thetis had to beg the smith of the gods, Hephaestus to prepare a new armor and mighty shield for Achilles. The revengeful Achilles at last returned to the battle, ruthlessly slaying several Trojans. At last two arch-foes met face-to-face and Achilles succeeded in piercing the throat of Hector by his spear. (The Iliad: Character Summary of Homer's The Iliad)
Disregarding the last wishes of Hector not to defile his corpse, Achiles drags the body from the back of his chariot that disappointed Appollo. Zeus recommended for a ransom in exchange of the body and Achilles surrendered the body to Priam, the father of Hector most reluctantly. The shield of Achilles with blazoning emblems marks a sharp contrast between war and peace. The emblems on the shield of Achilles depicted symbols representing the Greek Ethos and its sharp contradictions. The city at peace represented to be prosperous that restores joy, love, sexuality, continuance of the species, law and justice, festivals and harvest all life in perfect equilibrium. The contradiction is the city at war, giving room for hate, chaos, death and destruction. This depicts fully the dual character of Achilles. His love for the country, righteousness morality, and sympathy towards women led him to struggle against the King Agamemnon that appealed the king to return Chryseis.
The selfishness of King Agamemnon that led to prefer cutting down the Achaeans with a plague instead of returning Chryseis impelled her patriotism and sympathy towards the country that made him decide not to support King Agamemnon. Simultaneously Achilles becomes heartbroken with kidnapping of his wife and become revengeful goes to the extent of not participating in war in national interest. Though he is sympathetic towards his wife, he is revengeful and ruthless towards a greater interest. He was sympathetic towards his friend patroclus by granting permission to fight on his behalf and allowing him his own armory. Still become revengeful with his death. He ruthlessly had slained a great number of Trojans in his pursuit of Hector. His anger and ruthlessness goes to extreme when he disregards the death wishes of Hector not to the defile his corpse and drags the body of Hector, unsympathetically from the back of his chariot. He even unsympathetically, disregarded the claim of the Priam, the father of Hector on the body of his son initially and reluctantly surrenders the body at last. (The Iliad: Character Summary of Homer's The Iliad)
Achilles was portrayed to be the boisterous self-centered character that finally broke down with meeting of Iphigenia and vows to defend her. Achilles in the play was represented to demonstrate the courage that made Achilles the most feared warrior of his time. (Reviews: Iphigenia at Aulis) Hector on the other hand has been represented as an extremely sympathetic character in Iliad rather than Achilles. This made the slaughter of Hector by Achilles difficult to justify. (Troy: Directed by Wolfgang Petersen) Hector played the role being torn between his piety, his family and his country. When at the first moment he is captaining a ship back from Menelaus to Troy carrying the kidnapped bride Helen of his son he was sympathetically and honestly thought of returning her but for the wishes of his brother. Achilles on the other hand is moved by love of glory and understands that he will die young if he pursues it; however his reputation is all that matters since all he is a warrior and considered to be the best one. His intense desire to become the greatest warrior of Greek Mythology, he preferred to be honored than survive for long. He fought ruthlessly, and became an unsympathetic character. His ruthlessness and revengefulness is depicted by his behavior of dragging the corpse of Hector at the back of his carriage not regarding his last wish not to defile his body. (Troy Movie Review: Warner Bros. Troy vs. The Trojan Legend)