Agamemnon vs. Achilles
During the ancient Greek period the people believed that the gods lived on Mt. Olympus and could do whatever they wanted to. The leader of the gods was Zeus; he was the most powerful god. The gods had the power to intervene with the mortal lives if they felt that it was necessary. The Iliad is an epic poem. In the story of the Iliad the two main characters were Achilles and Agamemnon. Achilles was seen as the great Greek hero, he was the strongest man alive at the time. His father was a god but his mother was only a mortal. He was bathed in the river Styx as a child and he became almost immortal. The only piece of his body that could be injured was his heel. In the beginning of the story we find out that the gods are angry with Agamemnon because he has been mean to a holy man. The gods in turn sent a huge plague down onto the people. The gods Apollo was responsible for starting the plague, he was convinced by the holy man to seek revenge upon the people.
Agamemnon was the King of Mycenae; he was very similar to Achilles. Agamemnon was the leader of his army and was very proud of his army. Although he never took any big risks in battle, he always took credit for everything and wanted the largest share of plunder after it was all over. He shows no emotions, and does not trust his army, and is always testing them. Agamemnon is not well liked by his people, but he is respected. Agamemnon is always trying to get something for himself in any situation. This can be seen when the gods request that he returns Chryseis, a prize from a battle that he won. Agamemnon will not return the girl unless he receives Achilles prize of war, Briseis. Agamemnon says to his two servants “ Go along, both of you to Achilles quarters and take his charming Briseis by the hand to bring to me. And if he balks at giving her I shall be there myself with men-at-arms in force to take her- all the more gall for him” This shows his lack of respect and care for other people. He thinks that he deserves anything that he desires, but he is wrong. Chalcas was a seer to the Greeks. He told Agamemnon that he did not approve of his doings, and that he “brought calamity,” and that Agamemnon was “from the depths of hell.” These word from Chalcas show that the seer did not think that Agamemnon was very good person, and that what he did was wrong.
Everyone on the other hand loved Achilles. Even thought he possessed superhuman strengths, and held a close relationship with the gods he had many character flaws that did not allow him to strive in all aspects that he could have. His flaws did not allow him to act with the nobility and integrity that he could have. Unlike Agamemnon, Achilles shows his emotions, but he cannot control them. He strives to reach glory in every aspects of his life, and when he can’t he becomes angry and cannot control himself. When Agamemnon belittled him by taking his lady away from him, his rage built up inside and he refused to fight anymore. Although Achilles is consumed by the bloodlust, pride and wrath, he also shows that he has emotions in the final book when he allows the desecrated body of Hector to be returned to his family and friends. Even though Hector killed Achilles best friend, he does the noble thing and allows the body to be returned to its original home. Achilles cried with the old man about the loss of loved ones, and he allows the man to take the body. “As you wished, sir, the body of your son is now set free. He lies in state. At the first site of dawn you shall take charge of him yourself and se him. Now let us think of supper.” This quote shows that Achilles believes in tradition, it is Greek tradition to celebrate the closing of a deal by eating food with the people involved. The tradition of honoring a corpse and returning it to its homeland was also shown. The goddess Hera is on Achilles side, and assists him in his life. Agamemnon does not like Achilles because he knows that he is a better fighter but cannot admit it. He holds a personal grudge against him, but he can’t do anything to change it.
I believe that Achilles anger is justifiable because he had something taken from him unjustly. Agamemnon stole Achilles lady because he had to return his. This is highly unfair, and everyone knew this except Agamemnon. When he withdrew from the battle though, it only hurt his own name and reputation. Achilles was supposed to be a great fighter, and a real warrior would never withdraw from a battle over a woman. Throughout his life, Achilles strived to make his reputation strong, and by dropping out of the battle he ruined all that he had done that was honorable. I think that Achilles could have proven his point in a better way, and still kept his honor. Overall I believe that what he did was justified.
In conclusion I believe that Achilles was the better character in this epic. He tried to be a good person, even thought he had many character flaws that did not allow him to be as great as he wanted to be. Agamemnon on the other hand, was a horrible person and extremely arrogant. Agamemnon tries to manipulate people and situations to best fit his personal benefit. Achilles showed emotions and was able to express how he felt to people; this factor alone will make readers like him more. Agamemnon and Achilles both held leading roles in the story, but Achilles was the main character.