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Tragedy and Fate in Homer’s Iliad

Mondal, Disha. “Triumph of Destiny in the lives of Karna and Achilles.” Global Journal of Human Social Science 19 (4): (2019) 21-22.

In this article, the author reveals the theme of the tragic fate of the heroes of two epic poems, comparing the characters of Achilles from Homer’s Iliad and Karna of The Mahabharata by Vyasa. The researcher provides a brief description of Achilles’ anguish and changes in his spirits caused by misfortunate and tragic events. The author notes that Achilles perceived the surrounding reality through the prism of fate or ominous destiny. As was predicted, Achilles’ vulnerability, his desire for the glory of the hero, and the thirst for revenge for his beloved friend Patroclus killed by Hector led him to death.

The author pays special attention to how Achilles experiences Agamemnon’s disrespect, who decided to take his beloved and captive Briseis. The scientist emphasizes that Agamemnon’s act gives rise to the anger of Achilles, who wants to refuse to participate in the Trojan War. However, after Hector’s attack on Patroclus, Achilles changes his mind and kills Hector in anger. Along with rage, the desire for glory and the acceptance of the heroic death return to Achilles. The scholar also notes that after Patroclus’s death, Achilles is ready to accept his death and no longer speaks of heroic glory.

Mansur, Visam. “War Traumata in Literature: From Homer to Sahar Khelifeh.” Millennium-Journal of English Literature, Linguistics and Translation 1 (2): (2020) 1-10.

The author of the article views Achilles as a hero who interacts with the trauma he received during the Trojan War. The author emphasizes that “the implicit meaning of Achilles’ myth is that there is a long life in peace without war and its traumas” (Mansur 2). The scientist pays attention to the situation of choice, in which Achilles found himself, even before the start of the Trojan War. Since his mother Thetis was a Nereid and a clairvoyant, she predicted Achilles’ death if he chose to take part in the battle. Despite his mother’s admonitions, Achilles decides that the glorious death and immortality of the soul is preferable to a long but inglorious life.

The researcher also introduces Achilles’ mental anguish when he loses his friend Patroclus and turns into a “berserker” in the context of the psychology of trauma. The tragedy of Achilles and his mental anguish was caused by external circumstances and the fact that the hero was torn apart by conflicting desires. These are the desire for pleasure, illustrated by the reaction to Agamemnon’s act, who took away Briseis, the desire for military glory, and disgust at the cruelty of his king Agamemnon. Therefore, according to the author, Achilles dies due to the inability to sort out his feelings.

Whissell, Cynthia. “According to Their Emotional Plots, the Iliad is Most Likely Tragic While the Odyssey is not.” Athens Journal of Philology 6(1): (2019) 53-64.

This article examines the characteristics that define the Iliad as a tragedy. In particular, the author compares the language of two epic works – the Iliad and Odyssey. She argues that the Iliad, according to Aristotle’s classification, is a tragedy, and the Odyssey is not. To prove her point of view, the scholar presents the results of the study, which was based on the analysis of an overall percentage of pleasant and unpleasant language in the poems, and according to which the Iliad is written in a slightly more unpleasant language.

Characteristics that define the Iliad as a tragedy include the overall tone of misfortune, the conclusion in the zone of misfortune, general movement from fortune to misfortune, the presence of a clear unfortunate climax, more active language, and more concrete language. Like the author of the previous article, Whissell says that the Iliad depicts the tragedy of war and the climax of the whole epic “takes place in Book 15 where the forces of the Trojans and the Achaeans (and their aligned gods) battle furiously with no clear winner “(53). The researcher also notes that the main protagonist of the Odyssey, Odysseus, is much closer to the reader than the hero of the Iliad, Achilles, whose fate develops following the canon of the genre – from less to more significant misfortune.

Cullhed, Eric. “Dearness and Death in the Iliad.” Cogent Arts & Humanities 6 (1): (2019) 1-16.

The author of the article analyzes the poem Iliad from the point of view of Homer’s use of pathos, despite the narrator’s apparent detachment. Like the previous author, Cullhed summarizes that the main message of the Iliad was to present the horrors of war. The author also analyzes in detail the emotions that terrible pictures of war should evoke in the reader. To evoke feelings of sadness, pity, or tenderness, Homer used literary techniques. The images of heroes who fell on the battlefield were enhanced using common motives of the value of life, worthy of regret, humiliated beauty, and the irremediable loss of loved ones. In general, the researcher focuses on the fact that in the Iliad, Homer, using pathetic techniques, presented the beauty of death and pity for the fallen heroes.

Noteworthy, the scholar also emphasizes that “the myth of the Trojan War was not about the triumph of the good over the wicked; it was about a whole species of human beings marching towards extinction” (Cullhed 1). The author also recalled that according to the plot of the poem, the will of Zeus was “that countless Trojan and Achaean strong souls were thrown into Hades” (Cullhed 2). Simultaneously, the pictures of the struggle were presented in a detached, impersonal manner, which only strengthened the reader’s sense of pity. There are no protagonists in the poem who defeat antagonists; on the contrary, every life has a meaning, and every moment of death is necessary and painful.

Horn, Fabian. “The Death of Achilles in the Iliad: Motif Transference and Poetic Technique.” Mnemosyne 1 (1): (2020) 1-28.

The author of this article considers Achilles’s death to be the key moment of the poem since two intertwined main plots are tied to it. Besides, the death of the main character of the poem is symbolic and heroic. The scientist draws attention to the fact that Homer continuously warms up the reader’s attention to Achilles’ death, recalling the ominous augury voiced by Thetis. However, before dying as a true Homeric warrior, Achilles deserves undying fame. At the same time, the triumph of Achilles over Hector is the prototype of the fall of Troy.

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1. StudyKraken. "Tragedy and Fate in Homer’s Iliad." March 21, 2022. https://studykraken.com/tragedy-and-fate-in-homers-iliad/.


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StudyKraken. "Tragedy and Fate in Homer’s Iliad." March 21, 2022. https://studykraken.com/tragedy-and-fate-in-homers-iliad/.

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StudyKraken. 2022. "Tragedy and Fate in Homer’s Iliad." March 21, 2022. https://studykraken.com/tragedy-and-fate-in-homers-iliad/.

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StudyKraken. (2022) 'Tragedy and Fate in Homer’s Iliad'. 21 March.

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