Achilles Speech In The Iliad

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In the Iliad, Achilles is responding to Odysseus’s speech attempting to convince him to return to the war. Achilles’ main argument against returning is his incalculable rage against Agamemnon for “the prize of honor / The warlord Agamemnon gave me / And in his insulting arrogance took back” which is not only an insult to Achilles’ status, but also to his honor as a warrior (Il. 9.378-379). In addition to focusing on the main argument of Achilles’ speech, it is worth noting the contradictions present within his speech as well. In the first few lines of Achilles speech, he states, “I hate it like I hate hell / The man who says one thing and thinks another” (Il. 9.317-318). The accuracy of this statement comes into question twice within the confines of a few pages. First, Achilles changes his plans for departing with his ships, not once, but twice. At the end of his first speech, Achilles asserts that “Tomorrow / he [Phoenix] sails with me on our voyage home,” but in his next speech in response to Phoenix, he reassures his old friend by saying “At daybreak / We will decide whether to set sail…show more content…
Both of these men are reluctant to go into their respective battles, albeit for very different reasons. In his speech, Nicias is aware that if he were to command the Sicilian expedition, he would “gain honour by it”, but feels that leading the Athenians into Sicily is a mistake, and justifies a loss of honor against certain death (HPW 6.9). This mirrors the statement Achilles makes in his speech, and the reader is reminded of throughout the Iliad, “If I stay here and fight, I’ll never return home, / But my glory will be undying forever. / If I return home to my dear fatherland / My glory is lost but my life will be long,” (Il. 9.325-328). Neither Achilles or Nicias are successful in staying out of battle, both getting dragged into fighting a war they don’t believe
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