Honour In The Iliad

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The Iliad which was composed by Homer is about an incident of destructive violent rage that occurred in the Greek camp in the ninth year of the Trojan War which lasted for ten years. This rage is invoked by the conflict between Achilles, son of Peleus and Agamemnon son of Atreus. Agamemnon is the son of King Atreus of Mycenae, the brother of Menelaus and the husband of Clytemnestra with whom he had four children namely :Orestes, Iphigenia, Electra and Chrysothemis. Agamemnon inherited the title of king from his father. As he is the king, he is expected to excel in tasks like stabilising the society, settling disputes, calling council meetings and assemblies. He is also the commander of the Greeks in the war. Book 1 begins with Agamemnon…show more content…
Agamemnon felt his personal honour was greater than that of the army, but Achilles calls him out as “ shameless, self-centred…” (Homer,2003, Book 1, 150, 8). Both of the heroes see their women as a sign of status and honour, but voluntarily giving up the symbol of honour for the sake of the army, as in Agamemnon’s case, does not necessarily diminish his personal honour which comes from his status as a king. Agamemnon’s leadership skills are shown in Book 2 where he raised a powerful army and a catalogue of over a thousand ships to win back Helen with strength of arms. In contrast to that he is often shown as an unsteady king, weighed down by the responsibility of his position as he expresses regret over his previous quarrel with Achilles, but he does not do anything to make amends (Homer,2003, Book 2, 376-381,31). Homer thus shows us two instances where Agamemnon is not capable of apologising. It is also shown that it is Odysseus and not Agamemnon who answers and humiliates…show more content…
Initially, Agamemnon fights very well but tragedy soon follows as all the major fighters except Ajax are found wounded. As he is wounded, Agamemnon in Book 14 once again is paralysed by the burden of leadership. He lays out a plan for retreat as he fears that Hector’s forces will prevail and also fears that the defeat of the Achaean army would be his fault (Homer,2003, Book 14,76-82, 241). During periods of depression and discouragement, Agamemnon makes wrong decisions, and is sometimes unfair. His impulse to preserve the life of his men shows that he takes his responsibility seriously. Odysseus harshly criticises Agamemnon as the decision retreat would mean a loss of glory. Eventually, Poseidon comes to Agamemnon’s side and reassures him that the Trojans will be turned
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