Role of Wrath in the Illiad

1779 words 8 pages
Niraj Khatiwada
Seminar Paper
Mr. Davis & Ms. Davis
October 29, 2012

What Role Does Wrath Play In The Iliad?

The very first line in the Iliad states the main theme of the whole story, as Homer asks the Muse to sing of the "wrath of Achilles." This wrath, all its occurrences, transformations, influences, and consequences, unfold the devastating events in the Iliad.

Initially the book starts showing people in a normal state of life, but the main story of Homer’s Iliad, however, starts once there is the ignition of wrath among prominent characters of the story like Agamemnon and Achilles. In the normal state, people are capable of behaving rationally, using experience and wisdom to guide their action. However, during the main
…show more content…

At the end of the war, the whole scenario of the initial furious wrath takes an entirely different direction when both Agamemnon and Achilles realize the adverse consequences of the anger. Agamemnon realizes his mistake and wanted Achilles back when he confessed his mistake to Nestor (Book 9, 114-120). Similarly, Achilles also realizes his mistake after the death of Patroclus. He considers himself responsible for the death of his friend and tries to amend his mistake (Book 18, 97-110). Through reconciliation, Achilles realizes that if he does not return to the battle, his anger would be nothing more than moody selfishness. His return, and knowing that he will die in the war, makes him an ultimate hero.

Is Achilles solely responsible for the death of Patroclus? Or is it the combination of both fate and the decision of Patroclus that caused his death? Though Achilles was responsible for not going himself in the battle but letting his friend go alone, Patroclus also was responsible in some ways. Achilles had instructed him to drive the Trojan out of the ship but warned him not to follow them to the plain of Troy. He should have also obeyed the instruction given to him by Achilles, but he did not follow that instruction, may be because it was his fate to die. The intervention of Apollo in the midst of war, or change of mindset of Patroclus by Zeus in the course of war, both support as