Writing Assignment – Week 5

The embassy to Achilles in Book 9 marks our first encounter with the hero since he departed the fighting in Book 1. In his reply to Odysseus (9.307-429), Achilles sets out his rationale for refusing the gifts and promises offered by Agamemnon. Through a careful reading of this speech, discuss the arguments that Achilles puts forth and elucidate what it is, exactly, that Achilles identifies as his reason for not returning to battle. As you consider your response, pay close attention to the structure of Achilles’ speech as a whole and the rhetoric he employs throughout, keeping in mind how other characters (and especially Phoinix) react to what the hero says. You might also consider how this Achilles is or is not like the Achilles we meet in Book 1 (i.e. how he has or has not changed since the argument with Agamemnon?) and if his reasoning changes between his answers to Odysseus, Phoinix, and Aias. As you think through this passage and Book 9, it might be helpful to consider other instances in the Iliad in which a character (mortal or immortal) changed his or her mind, and why. Be very careful to cite your evidence from the text.

4 thoughts on “Writing Assignment – Week 5

  1. Rachel Altier

    Achilleus lists several reasons for not wanting to return to the fighting, the main one being that he does not feel as if he is being appreciated in the battle. Agamemnon does not give him the credit and praise that he feels he deserves for taking part in the fighting (315-317). Achilleus feels as if he is being ignored and underappreciated by the people who are in charge. He has fought for ten years against the Trojans, and he does not think that he has gotten the proper respect for doing so. He is saying that, unless he knows that he is going to be treated correctly for rejoining the battle and doing what he is supposed to, then he does not see the point. While Agamemnon is still in charge, however, he does not feel that he will be able to get this praise and honor that he thinks he deserves.

  2. Nakia Browner

    Achilles is not much different from the Greek leader Agamemnon. Both men are have too much pride and take too many ego trips. Achilles feel under appreciated for his efforts in the war and although he is a huge asset to the Greek army he also needs to reminded that he has superiors and to respect them. As well as Agamemnon , who needs to recognize when he has a great soldier as such. Achilles won’t return the war unless he is sure that he will praised and honored by Agamemnon, but honestly I believe Achilles ego is still bruised from the quarrel from book 1.

    1. Rachel Altier

      That’s a really good point, Nakia. Both of them want to be seen for being skilled warriors, and they both want to get the honor that they feel they deserve. The main difference between them is a disagreement as to who deserves the honor and why they deserve it. Agamemnon, as the one who makes the decisions and gives the orders, feels that he deserves it, while Achilleus, the one who is doing the fighting, feels that he should deserve it.
      I do think that Achilleus is still upset about what happened back in book 1. He hasn’t changed that much since then– he still feels that he is not getting the attention and glory that he believes he deserves, and that is still the driving force behind his tantrum.

  3. Dannielle Forrest

    There is a stark contrast between the initial and current mentality that Achilles displays in Scroll 9 as he declines the offer set before him. 9.308 “Son of Laertes and seed of Zeus, resourceful Odysseus: without consideration for you, I must make my answer the way I think/ For I detest the doorways of death, I detest that man, who hides one thing in the depths of his of his heart, and speaks forth another.”

    From this statement, it can already be assumed that Achilles’ real problem lies within the fact that Agamemnon is to not be trusted – and his intentions never to be overlooked. And although Achilles rightfully displays his dissatisfaction with the way he’s been treated, there is a line that can be drawn when analyzing to what extent his anger is justified. In my opinion, it seems that Achilles is unwilling to consider the possibility that he might be overreacting to Agamemnon’s insults – while Agamemnon adversely displays a much more controlled approach to his wrongdoings: 9.138 “Mad, blind I was! / Not even I deny it,” he states, explicitly acknowledging and taking full responsibility for the separation.

    And though I can agree with Agamemnon not truly seeing Achilles as an equal – I conclude that Achilles wasn’t essentially seeking an apology, or superficial recompense. He simply desires restitution for the outrage that he feels he has suffered.


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