Comparing The Speech Of Achilles To Agamemnon To The Speech Of Hector To Andromache Essay

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speech of Achilles to Agamemnon to the Speech of Hector to Andromache

The two speeches, of Achilles to Agamemnon and the one of Hector to Andromache, represent two different types of ethics in regards to rhetoric; this can be seen within the context of the speeches as well as the events. The speech of Achilles to Agamemnon is seen as a type base rhetoric, and the speech of Hector to Andromache is seen as philosophical rhetoric.

The base rhetoric is something which follows a direction of evil; it ends in exploitation and is something condemning. This type of rhetoric hates all which oppose it, and would rather that it were greater than everything else -- it despises anything equal or greater than it. The base rhetoric is something which tries to keep anything from achieving or receiving any types of support which can be seen in the form of noble association, courage, or divine philosophy. The man who holds this is someone who can be said to have the wrong idea of existence and the wrong essences of what is a man. He is one who gives in to the physical pleasures of being a man, and only looks forward to his own personal pursuits, not the interests of others. This type of rhetoric is generally one who sways from the truth and anything good which is of the soul.

The philosophical rhetoric is something which is the opposite of the base rhetoric. As the base rhetoric is everything which is evil and untrue, the philosophical rhetoric is one which constantly aims for the truth and all which is good of the soul, it is something which is totally indifferent to all types of gratifications and pleasures which may be evil. The basic structure of this rhetoric is something which is whole; it is not missing anything in its body and lacks nothing which is necessary. All its functions relate to each other which work together for the structure as a whole. This is concerned with only the truth and its accordance with justice. It is associated with everything which is good of man; it seeks courage, nobility and divine philosophy. It does not seek only the pleasures of itself and looks out also for the interest of others.

"Staggering drunk, with your dog's eyes, your fawn's heart!" (The Iliad Bk 1, 262-263).

You can see the nature of hatred in Achilles' speech towards Agamemnon in his anger and hurtful words. He brings down the essence of Agamemnon, comparing him to animals and degrading his soul by not acknowledging him as a man. This line shows that Achilles truly does not respect Agamemnon, lowering his spirit with words of hatred.

"you lack the courage, you can see death coming.

Safer by far, you find, to foray all through camp, commandeering the prize of any man who speaks against you

King who devours his people! Worthless husks, the men you rule." (The Iliad Bk 1, 269-273).

This line of Achilles tries to reverse the roles. He accuses Agamemnon of being a coward, and hating all which is against him, when it is Achilles who is in fact doing this. His words seem defensive and do not necessarily speak of truth. He is constantly judging Agamemnon and claiming that he is lower than what he really is. This is the characteristics of a 3 base rhetoric person, he who exalts himself above others, even when whom he is addressing is of a far higher status. He brings down not only Agamemnon, but also his people, removing their essence of being a man and calling them worthless. His words are full of pride.

"I tell you this, and swear a mighty oath upon it…" (The Iliad. Bk 1 276).

Achilles shows confidence in his words, he is very sure that what he says is right. His speech is self-seeking and only condemns Agamemnon. He believes that his words have power and they stir anger and strife. It seems as though his words and judgments have been blurred by all this hatred, and he is just saying anything which comes from the top of his head. He goes and finds all words which he believes will bring down any bit of humanity Agamemnon and his men have. He believes that his words are powerful, and he swears in a "mighty" oath. However, it is evident that his intentions are self-seeking and self-righteous.

"…I swear,...
...Bk 1 281-282).

This line of Achilles stirs fear. He glorifies himself and puts himself up on a pedestal. The first line shows that he values his worth as far better than his audience and that he should be awed because he is great. He claims that no efforts from Agamemnon will save them, for it is in the base rhetoric's belief that only he can admit change. This is far from the truth, because it shows nothing but anger and hate. Achilles does not show an ounce of compassion, nor does he speak of anyone else but himself. He comes off as saying that the whole war is in his hands, and so is the fate of everyone else. He has no regard for human life, and does not do anything to which he recognizes other people as men. He compares them to things which are lower, which in turn glorifies him. He shows much hatred for Agamemnon who is of a higher status than he, this is because the base rhetoric hates all which is equal or is above him, thus he tears down Agamemnon's worth by his hurtful and demeaning words.

"Not when your hordes of fighters drop and die, cut down by the hands of the man-killing Hector! Then you will tear your heart out, desperate, raging that you disgraced the best of the Achaeans!" (The Iliad. Bk 1 287-290).

Again, Achilles draws the attention of hatred and anger away from himself, and calls Hector "man-killing," when it is known that Achilles has a reputation for this. He only wishes the worst of his audience and enemies, claiming that they will become desperate. He speaks of their death as a victory for himself, something which he looks forward to, this is a characteristic of the base rhetoric, having no regard for anything else but itself.

"Hector, seeing you want to know the truth," (The Iliad. Bk 6 452).

The philosophical rhetoric seeks only the truth, this is seen when Hector was approached by his servant. His servant knew that Hector had good intentions and will not turn away from what is true and what is good. This is why she states that she knows the truth is what he is looking for. This is the basic characteristic of the philosophical rhetoric.

"…she'd gone because she heard our men are so hard-pressed, the Achaean fighters coming on in sp much force." (The Iliad. Bk 6 457).

The servant here speaks of Hector's wife, who is seen to be very loyal and loving towards Hector. The couple share the same ethics and virtues which can be said is of the philosophical rhetoric. In the servant's words, she states that Hector's wife was concerned because of all the suffering the men of Troy were undergoing. This is a characteristic of philosophical rhetoric; not self-seeking and caring for those around him or her. It wishes the well-being of all men and does not care about status; she has great regard for all men, and values the truth in good of the life of her people. Her distress due to their suffering shows that she is kind of heart.

"There his warm, generous wife came running up to meet him," (The Iliad. Bk 6 467).

This shows that Hector and his wife love each other and value each other. This is the total opposite of the base rhetoric who only cares for himself. The description of their affection for each other shows in how Andromache approached Hector. Their love for one another of course cannot exist without truth, which is what the philosophical rhetoric aims for; all which is true and good.

"Hector's son, the darling of his eyes and radiant as a star…" (The Iliad. Bk 6 475).

Hector not only had love for his wife, he cared deeply for his son. This is the opposite of Achilles, how his only interest was himself; his words were hateful and he showed no evidence of being capable of loving anyone. Hector, on the other hand had so much to live for because he did not focus on himself. He wanted to fight for his son, his wife and his country. He had great love which surrounded him and he did not regard himself as greater than anyone else.

"All this weighs on my mind too dear woman. But I…

Sources Used in Documents:


Homer, Robert Fagles, and Bernard Knox. "The Iliad." (New York: Penguin, 1991). Print.

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