War That Killed Achilles

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In her book The War That Killed Achilles Caroline Alexander argues that the Iliad by Homer is an anti-war epic. Alexander provides significant evidence for her claims by thoroughly evaluating the character of Achilles. She also analyzes several specific scenes from the epic, which she asserts would not normally be a part of a typical Greek heroic epic. This is also supported through allusions to contemporary culture as well as other Greek poetry and literature such as The Odyssey by Homer and Theogony: Works and Days by Hesiod. Alexander analyzes the terrifying nature of war that is portrayed within the Iliad, and how it serves to do nothing other than ravage the lives of all. By employing these means of support Alexander constructs an incredibly…show more content…
She notes, for instance, that Achilles is an unheroic example of a traditional Greek hero. When the epic begins, he is on the verge of leaving home. In fact he spends most of the Iliad in the confines of his tent. When his best friend, Patroklos, is murdered in battle Achilles finally decides to risk his life out on the battlefield. Not to support his Achaean brethren, but to avenge his fallen friend. Alexander points out that for a story about a great battle that involved both men and gods alike, The Iliad is distinctly free of magical references. For example, there is no suggestion of Achilles being invincible other than his armor. As the son of a mortal man and an immortal goddess, he is never once regarded as magically protected or invincible when as a demi-god he should be. In fact, the most frequently used description of our hero after “fleet-footed,” is “short-lived.” In order to better support her argument Alexander takes passages from the ancient Iliad and relates them to contemporary culture. In the Iliad, Achilles says, “I for my part did not come here for the sake of the Trojan spearmen to fight against them, since to me they have done nothing. Never yet have they driven away my cattle or my horses” (pg.20). She then takes the words of famous pop culture icon, Muhammad

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