Why does Achilles refuse to fight for Agamemnon and the Greeks until the death of Patroclus?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Book 1 of the Iliad, Agamemnon is forced to return the girl Chryseis to her father, a priest of Apollo, in order to end a mysterious plague that has been afflicting the Greek army. Agamemnon is resentful about losing his “prize,” and when Achilles tries to reason with him, Agamemnon lashes out and declares that Achilles must also lose his prize, the girl Briseis. Achilles bristles at Agamemnon’s behaviour and an argument ensues, by the end of which both men are so angry that Achilles decides to quit the battlefield and go home with all his soldiers. Agamemnon has insulted Achilles’s honour, which was an extremely serious thing in Ancient Greek culture. It would take equally serious measures on Agamemnon’s behalf to repair the damage he has done by publicly insulting Achlles, and Achilles is not willing to accept any apologies Agamemnon makes.

Achilles is, of course, the pre-eminent soldier in the Greek army, so when he quits the battlefield, the Greeks lose their advantage...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 983 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on