Book 9 of Homer's Iliad focuses on the embassy to Achilles. The great Greek hero has decided to take a break from the Trojan War because he is ticked off at having to give up a woman he got as spoil. Therefore, he pouts and refuses to fight. The...
Book 9 of Homer's Iliad focuses on the embassy to Achilles. The great Greek hero has decided to take a break from the Trojan War because he is ticked off at having to give up a woman he got as spoil. Therefore, he pouts and refuses to fight. The Greeks, however, need their best warrior, so they send an embassy to try to appease Achilles with flattering words and lots of gifts. Odysseus, Ajax, and Phoenix take on the mission.
Odysseus makes an offer, trying to get Achilles to pity his fallen and struggling comrades. It doesn't work. Phoenix appeals to Achilles's sense of nostalgia and uses a few stories about what happens to people who don't respond favorably to desperate requests. Achilles only gives in as far as saying that he will think twice about going home, though he's still leaning that way.
Then Ajax speaks up. Addressing Odysseus first, he says that they might as well go tell the Greeks the bad news because "Achilles has hardened his once noble heart and become quite unreasonable." Achilles, Ajax implies, doesn't care about anyone but himself. He also makes the point that all of this is about a girl, of all things. Ajax also reminds Achilles of the rules of hospitality. The latter has basically insulted his guests and the whole Greek army along with.
Achilles responds that he will fight again only if he is personally threatened. Odysseus, Ajax, and Phoenix have to be satisfied with that for now.
Now let's think about the theme of cooperation. Achilles refuses to cooperate with anyone. His pride has been hurt. He has been insulted, and he is pouting. He puts himself before everyone else. The three men of the embassy, though, actually work well together, appealing to Achilles in different yet complementary ways. They stress that he owes the Greeks his allegiance and cooperation. Of course, Achilles doesn't give it fully until his best friend goes to fight in his place and dies.