Achilles...A True Epic Hero
In defining the "Greek hero" in Monday's lecture, I found that there was a certain heroic characteristic missing from the group, and if we are to assume that Achilles is a true epic hero, than this characteristic must be noted. Before I go any further, I have to mention that upon reading blogs by those in Prof. Kuin's tutorial, I came across Maya's blog, which happened to cover the same missing heroic quality. Maya stated that....
"...a very important part of being a Hero (possibly more so in the 21st century) is having human qualities, particularly faults and shortcomings. At times these larger-than-life heroes can make very mortal, human mistakes; they are victims of fate and chances as well (Oedipus). At times, these mistakes have grave consequences (death in the most honorable cases). However, it is this element of human imperfection and fate that make heroes, well, heroes. Their ability to overcome and supersede these human follies further establishes their enigma. "
Therefore, as Maya so cleverly explained, a hero is not a hero unless he has a fault that he must overcome, and it is how he overcomes this fault that makes him memorable and epic. Achilles possesses superhuman strength, has a close relationship with the gods, has all the marks of a great warrior, and indeed proves the mightiest man in the Achaean army, but his innate character flaws constantly hinder his ability to act with nobility and integrity. He cannot control his pride or the rage that surges up when that pride is injured. This attribute so poisons him that he abandons his comrades and even prays that the Trojans will slaughter them, all because he has been slighted at the hands of his commander, Agamemnon. Achilles is driven primarily by a thirst for glory. Part of him yearns to live a long, easy life, but he knows that his personal fate forces him to choose between the two. Ultimately, he is willing to sacrifice everything else so that his name will be remembered, and it is this eagerness that makes him a heroic figure.