Achilles Vs Socrates

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The term “hero” can be applied across a wide range of characters in Greek literature. From epic heroes such as Achilles and Odysseus to tragic heroes such as Oedipus, the label “hero” can be as wide and varying as the term “villain”. Perhaps the most varied of the heroes are Achilles and Socrates. One savage and physically dominant and the other mild but intellectually brilliant. Despite their differences however, any commonalities between these two would speak to the shared traits of all the heroes that span the breadth from Achilles to Socrates. Both Achilles and Socrates choose to die before their time in order to achieve some higher purpose. Achilles chooses die in order to secure his kleos foregoing a long life and sacrificing his physical…show more content…
The inevitable death of each hero is an essential part of their narrative, just as their conflict with a superhuman force is essential to their narrative. Socrates realises that he must die in order to receive the judgement he deserves, “[W]hen someone arrives in the world of Hādēs, he is freed from those who call themselves jurors [dikastai] here, and finds the true [alētheîs] judges [dikastai] who are said to give judgment [dikazein] over there” (Plato Apology of Socrates 41a) The corruption of the current systems ensures that Socrates, while living, will never face true justice. He senses the bias of his jurors and is confident he must pass into the afterlife to receive fair judgement. Socrates is put on trial for doing something he believes righteous. He is compelled, therefore, to stand by his practices and not allow those who oppose him to alter his manner of teaching. This stubbornness eventually leads to his trial and death, but it is his pursuit of justice (dike) which makes him an admirable hero. Likewise Achilles recognizes that he will never receive true glory (kleos) unless he too passes into the afterlife. In Iliad IX, Achilles discusses his two choices of how to die, “I carry the burden of two different fated ways [kēres] leading to the final moment [telos] of death. |412 If I stay here and fight at the walls of the city of the Trojans, then my safe homecoming [nostos] will be destroyed for me, but I will have a glory [kleos] that is imperishable [aphthiton]” (Iliad IX 411-412). Achilles also has a conviction that he must die in order to receive glory. Just as Socrates references a “oracular art”, Achilles takes from prophecy that he but two fated ways [keres] of which he may choose one. The distinction that makes Achilles choice clear is that any homecoming (nostos) is temporary, while kleos is describe as “imperishable” and will outlive Achilles and

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