In book 1 of the Iliad Agamemnon comes across as vain, stubborn, arrogant, and totally incompetent. As king of Mycenae and commander-in-chief of the Argive forces, Agamemnon feels that he has the right to take the lion’s share of booty and glory, even if he personally did much less fighting that warriors such as Achilles.
Such overbearing arrogance would be hard enough to take at the best of times, but especially when it has serious consequences for the Greeks in their epic war against the Trojans. Agamemnon’s arrogance is such that he doesn’t think twice about grabbing Chryseis as his sex slave, even though the young lady’s father is a priest of Apollo. Chryseis’s father Chryses offers Agamemnon a substantial amount of treasure in order to get his daughter back, but the stubborn, haughty Agamemnon won’t play ball, with damaging consequences for his men.
Chryses prays to Apollo for help. The god duly responds by sending down a terrible plague on the Achaeans. The plague will only lift if Agamemnon agrees to give Chryseis back to her father, which he duly does. But then Agamemnon’s arrogance gets the better of him once more. By way of compensation for Chryseis, he appropriates Achilles’s war trophy, Briseis. This fateful decision acts as a catalyst for the wrath of Achilles, who’s angered at what he perceives as an outrageous insult to his honor and dignity.
Achilles duly storms off to his tent, where he broods on Agamemnon’s insult. Without their finest warrior, the Greeks end up suffering severe reversals in their war against the Trojans. If anyone’s responsible for this, it’s Agamemnon. His stubbornness, arrogance, and incompetence in handling his best soldier have led directly to the death of so many of his men on the field of battle.