What are the personalities of Achilles and Agamemnon in the Iliad?

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Achilles and Agamemnon are both prideful and obsessed with their status. Agamemnon takes Briseis from Achilles out of pride, to show his status as a leader of the Greeks, and Achilles resents this appropriation because it takes away from his status and damages his pride. This wounded pride results in...

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Achilles and Agamemnon are both prideful and obsessed with their status. Agamemnon takes Briseis from Achilles out of pride, to show his status as a leader of the Greeks, and Achilles resents this appropriation because it takes away from his status and damages his pride. This wounded pride results in Achilles absenting himself from the battle, making the Greek army's job a lot more difficult, since he is the best warrior. But Agamemnon cannot give back Briseis, because that would be to swallow his own pride, which he also will not do. Agamemnon and Achilles have more in common than not, but the main difference is that Agamemnon also has the burden of leading the entire army. When he makes a decision, he has to think about it from a political perspective, as well as a military or personal one. So the potential return of Briseis is also impossible for him from a political perspective, because he cannot look weak in front of the other Greeks.

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I think that the study of both Achilles and Agamemnon represents character sketches of the desire for greatness.  Both men seek greatness, and to be recognized for both its pursuit and accomplishment.  They are unrelenting in their respective drives and it is for this reason that they collide so often in Homer's epic.  Both believe themselves to be inherently superior to their contemporaries and are not afraid to show it.  The primary difference between both of them is where they see greatness lies.  Agamemnon does not conceal his belief that leaders and political kings represent greatness, and that armies and soldiers follow.  Achilles' view is a bit different in that the glory of the nation lies in the exploits of the soldiers; national glory is only possible with the glory of the nation.  I think that this difference is what causes the friction between them.  Based on the fact that Homer focuses so much on Achilles' transformation and his evolution at the end of the epic, he probably ends up supporting Achilles' viewpoint on greatness over Agamemnon.

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