Achilleus: An Evolving Character

During the first 125 lines of Book 18 in the Iliad, the character of Achilleus undergoes a metamorphosis as he responds to the death of his beloved friend, Patroklos. Tragically, Achilleus finally finds his role in the Trojan War just as he accepts the imminence of his own death. It is a decisive moment in the whole of the Iliad and especially in the evolution of Achilleus' character. The Myrmidon hero seems to age suddenly as the pain of his companion's death makes him realize the gravity of both his past faults and his destiny. Fundamentally, he recognizes his mistake in nursing his anger so unreasonably, and he submits to authority for the first time in the epic by recognizing the reality of his own death. The reader can also appreciate the loss of much of Achilleus' selfishness, the sorrow that motivates his desire for revenge, as well as the misfortune of youth cut short after being blighted by rage.

At line 109, Achilleus' description of anger "that swarms like smoke inside of a man's heart and becomes a thing sweeter to him by far than the dripping of honey" perfectly captures his own behavior in the Iliad up to that point. Despite the requests, apologies, and gifts that were offered to him...

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