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Why does Achilles refuse to fight for the Greeks when Agamemnon takes Briseis? Is it...

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liljunerie1 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 1, 2010 at 12:29 AM via web

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Why does Achilles refuse to fight for the Greeks when Agamemnon takes Briseis? Is it love of Briseis? Honor? Pride? 

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bmadnick | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted April 1, 2010 at 1:18 AM (Answer #1)

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Achilles is a Greek hero, and this means he has character flaws. Achilles is enraged when Agamemnon takes Briseis, and this action threatens his pride. Achilles is egotistical and craves glory and fame. He would rather see the Greeks lose than allow Agamemnon to insult him, and this is Achilles' major flaw that eventually leads to his downfall.  When Patroclus dies, Achilles goes back to the war and uses his hatred of Agamemnon against Hector. He desecrates Hector's body after death and shows no mercy against his enemies. A good leader would always consider his men before himself, but Achilles' pride doesn't allow him to be this kind of leader.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 1, 2010 at 12:43 AM (Answer #2)

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It is in my opinion definitely pride that makes Achilles refuse to fight when Briseis is taken.

First of all, there is not really so much of a tradition of romantic love back in those days in Greece.  I do not really think that Achilles would have fallen in love with Briseis.  This is even more so since she was just a prize of war.

Second, I think that one major theme of Homer's works is that honor was everything for a Greek warrior in these times.  Achilles, seeing himself as the greatest warrior, would surely have felt his honor was being slighted when his prize was taken.

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katiejov | Elementary School Teacher | Honors

Posted October 14, 2010 at 6:53 AM (Answer #3)

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good answer

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