Agamemnon's Leadership In The Iliad

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In Homer’s ancient work The Iliad, there are many forces of leadership at work, both strong models and poor examples. The two focal leaders in The Iliad are Agamemnon and Achilles. Both these characters exemplify leadership, but in drastically different ways. Agamemnon is immediately recognized as an authority because of his political standing; he is the leader in all technical meanings of the word. However, on Achilles part, it is his character and actions that earn him the recognition of a leader.

There is one vital aspect to strong leadership, and that is the relationship that the leader has with his followers; what binds him to them and what binds them to him. On Agamemnon’s part, his only claim to his followers was their civic responsibility
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He was self-aware, where Agamemnon was self absorbed. Achilles acts and speaks in ways that gather forces behind him, even in otherwise selfish acts. For example, in chapter one when he withdrew from battle to protect his injured pride (27). By doing that, he was actually preserving his image. His actions sent a message that he was to be respected no matter what. Also, the fact that he contended with the top man drove his point home: he demanded respect. A man capable of capturing the respect and admiration of an army is a man capable of leading an army; inspiring them, stirring them to bravery, to courage, to wrath, to love, to sorrow, to indignation, to arms, to war. He understood the importance of the way the men viewed him, and knew exactly how to manipulate this to his advantage. Achilles was socially aware, whereas Agamemnon neglected his social…show more content…
He remained headstrong, stubborn and selfish in his actions, even warranting rebuke from the men on certain occasions. This is seen in the very first conflict that is witnessed on the pages of The Iliad. Agamemnon is faced with the request to give up his war prize, and immediately and indignantly decides against all the council of the army in order to keep his prize of a woman (28). With this decision, he sought his own desires selfishly and disconnected himself from the men he was meant to lead. Granted, he possessed a strong will, a thing very necessary for good leadership. He had no problem exercising authoritativeness, yet Achilles beat him in every other aspect, and all but matches his stubbornness and strong will.

Overall, Achilles comes out the true leader, regardless of Agamemnon’s superior rank. Achilles turns the tide of battle where Agamemnon cannot and commands respect when his commander makes a fool of himself. The young Dardan understood the importance of connecting with an audience; an army. He captivated, he manipulated, he stirred up, and he inspired. An important concept can be taken from observing these two examples, and that is that there is more to leadership than securing the office or simply the position. Being a good leader is an art; constantly striven toward, never fully
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