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Achilles’ Pride and Hubris in Homer’s “The Iliad”

The Iliad is probably one of the most popular and influential Homer’s works around the globe. This epic poem provides the reader with a variety of images related to Ancient Greece, characters, both heroes and villains, and values that define human qualities. Pride is one of the strongest themes in the chosen story because it influences many military and personal decisions. Pride and its excessive form, hubris, serve the two significant elements of characters’ changes that erase the line between good and bad and make flawed characters interesting. Achilles is one of the most controversial characters in The Iliad, whose actions and thoughts excite and disappoint the reader at the same time.

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His pride leads to a number of negative consequences, including the death of his friend, Patroclus. This essay aims at examining Achilles’ pride and hubris in warfare affairs and the impact of these vices on the development of internal and external conflicts that may be solved with the help of compassion.

The development of human relationships is usually determined by how well people can understand and manage their emotions, thoughts, and knowledge. Pride is one of the most dangerous qualities when an individual feels proud, even if there is no evident reason. In Ancient Greece, pride was one of the reasons for many military and personal conflicts. Homer used pride as a strong incitement for characters to underline the importance of control and fair attitudes. Sometimes, pride is not enough to cover the amount and power of emotions, and hubris properly describes arrogance in such a character as Achilles. Homer preferred such words as “great” and “loved of heaven” to show Achilles’ greatness at the moment when the story begins (4).

The ways of how King Agamemnon (fiercely) and Patroclus (respectfully) talk to Achilles prove his superiority over other characters. His pride was fed not only by the fact that Achilles was a fierce and excellent warrior in battles but because he knew how great he was. Still, his hubris was also his weakness: the higher his ego was, the more fragile it became when his pride was threatened.

The problems associated with Achilles’ pride and hubris included his inability to control his rage, make thoughtful decisions, and evaluate all the situations properly. For example, his rage on Agamemnon resulted in the decision not to be “a mean coward” and “obey no longer” (Homer 8). Achilles was angry with the king, who took his captive, Briseis, as compensation for Chryseis’ returning. He did not want to fight for the Achaeans anymore, even if he understood that his absence on the battlefield caused by his pride could lead to their defeat against the Trojans. His internal conflicts and hubris were more powerful because he asked his divine mother, Thetis, and Apollo to avenge his failure of possessing what he wanted.

He did not think of people who could suffer together with Agamemnon or families who could lose their men. Pride made him blind when he allowed Patroclus to wear his armor and fight against the Trojans. His hubris and rage about Patroclus’ death made him forget all human codes and ethics when he dishonored Hector’s body. Several poor decisions of one person changed the history of Ancient Greece and Troy.

However, Homer did not want to leave Achilles along with his anger and pride that could destroy the character and offered the possibility of overcoming his vices. The author showed how love and compassion affected flawed people during Priam and Achilles meeting. Priam asked, “Fear, O Achilles, the wrath of heaven; think on your father and have compassion upon me, who am the more pitiable” (Homer 239). The old man “clasped his knees and kissed the dread murderous hands that had slain so many of his sons” (Homer 239). This act helped Achilles deal with his emotions and external conflict as he saw how a great king behaved.

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Both men wept for their losses and let their sorrow go. There was no place for pride and hubris anymore because the characters knew that they had already lost a lot. The ability to sympathize and recognize mistakes is not a weakness but a gift that predicts adverse effects.

In conclusion, it is possible to say that The Iliad does not introduce characters who could be purely good or bad. It is a story about heroes who had to deal with their emotions and use their abilities. Some of them, like Priam, Hector, or Achilles, had to resist their pride and hubris to find peace and solve their internal and external conflicts. Still, many characters did not achieve similar goals, which led to failures and losses.

The vice of pride is complex and unpredictable due to its evident benefits in warfare and dramatic challenges in personal life. Achilles suffered from his internal and external conflicts and was trapped by pride to find a solution. Developing this character, Homer sent a significant message to the reader not to neglect the opportunity and deal with inner demons for good, relying on compassion and respect.

Work Cited

Homer. The Iliad. Translated by Samuel Butler, The Project Gutenberg, 2021. The Project Gutenberg E-Book. Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2023, January 6). Achilles’ Pride and Hubris in Homer’s “The Iliad”. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/achilles-pride-and-hubris-in-homers-the-iliad/

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StudyCorgi. (2023, January 6). Achilles’ Pride and Hubris in Homer’s “The Iliad”. https://studycorgi.com/achilles-pride-and-hubris-in-homers-the-iliad/

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StudyCorgi. "Achilles’ Pride and Hubris in Homer’s “The Iliad”." January 6, 2023. https://studycorgi.com/achilles-pride-and-hubris-in-homers-the-iliad/.

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StudyCorgi. 2023. "Achilles’ Pride and Hubris in Homer’s “The Iliad”." January 6, 2023. https://studycorgi.com/achilles-pride-and-hubris-in-homers-the-iliad/.

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StudyCorgi. (2023) 'Achilles’ Pride and Hubris in Homer’s “The Iliad”'. 6 January.

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