In the Iliad, Agamemnon and Achilles both have a desire for power and honour. How does power and honour ultimately divide the two?

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jwdsmith eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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There is a strange and fundamental imbalance between Achilles and Agamemnon that is introduced in the opening scenes of Book I.

Agamemnon clearly holds some kind of supreme political power, as shown at two key moments:

First, Agamemnon gets his own way, keeping the daughter of the priest even though all the Greeks want to give her back (lines 22–25). In fact, he doesn't even have to explain himself to the rest of the men—he simply ignores what they have said and answers the priest according to his own desires, and there seems to be nothing the other Greeks can do about it.

Second, in the meeting to find out why Apollo is sending disease against the Greek army, the soothsayer Calchas appears too afraid at first to mention Agamemnon by name, saying:

I think I will anger a man who rules greatly over all the Argives and whom the Achaeans obey (lines 78–79).

He continues with a general statement that clearly refers to Agamemnon as a king, even though Calchas still doesn't dare to mention him...

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