The Anger of Achilleus

"Sing, goddess, the anger of Peleus' son Achilleus and its devastation, which put pains thousandfold upon the Achaians ...and the will of Zeus was accomplished since that time when first there stood in division of conflict Atreus' son the lord of men and brilliant Achilleus." - (1. 1-7)

Thus begins Homer's Iliad, a narrative, on certain levels, of the anger of Peleus' son Achilleus. This anger, divine wrath, of Achilleus is at the center of the epic, an element that drives the action forward. With the opening lines of the poem, one can already distinguish that the focus Homer intended was upon human emotions, the consequences of Achilleus' anger, caused by the conflict between himself and Atreus' son, Agamemnon. Only near the very end of the Iliad does the anger finally dissolve, and a necessary transformation takes place to ensue a comfortable (though not completely comfortable) closure to an otherwise uneasy story.

To examine more closely this transformation, we will focus upon the first and last books of the Iliad, Book One and Book Twenty-Four, in hopes that the similarities and, more importantly, the differences will reveal much about the transformation of the hero Achilleus.

Firstly, the...

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