Monday, November 17, 2008

Achilles: The Not-So-Noble Hero

To all those taking the time to read my Blog, this is my mythology research paper for Mr. T's class. I am posting it on here for some constructive criticism. Any comments would be very much appreciated. Thanks!

Achilles: The Not-So-Noble Hero

In what ways don’t we see the personality or influence of Achilles in current wars?

You are the General of the U.S. Army and you have just killed Osama bin Laden. This is a great feat, as he is almost at the top of the FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. Once you have killed him, you tie his corpse to the back of your Humvee and drive him around Afghanistan’s capital city of Kabul three times everyday. At first your country praises you for killing him, but once they find out what you are doing to his dead body, they aren’t so pleased. It is disgraceful, and sick in a way what you are doing. However, back when Achilles was a Greek war hero, you would have been praised for this sort of thing. Achilles was the leader of the Greek army in the Trojan War. He was feared by all of the Trojans. One day during the war, King Agamemnon made Briseis, Achilles’s sweetheart, a slave. He refused to fight after that. Agamemnon begged and begged for Achilles to come back and fight again, but he was too depressed. Eventually Achilles sent his friend Patroclus to fight for him with his own armor. King Hector killed Patroclus and this made Achilles realize he needs to fight. He leads his troops to Troy and kills Hector. After that Achilles drags Hector’s corpse around Troy three times every morning. Achilles eventually gives the corpse to Hector’s father in exchange for his weight in gold. If Achilles, or any other war heroes from back then did some of the things they did back then today, most people would not think that they were such great heroes.

Back in the times of the Trojan War, you would have been praised for a lot of the things Achilles did. However, today it would not be the same. If you were to drag the corpse of a dead soldier around their home city three times every morning after you had just killed them in these days, you would not be praised like Achilles was. Back then killing someone and putting them to disgrace was a heroic act, but today it is just plain wrong. The same goes with when Achilles demanded a ransom for Hector’s body. You just couldn’t do that today without being put to shame. The noble thing today would be to just turn the body over to the family. Achilles wasn’t the only Greek hero to ever do something like this though.

Theseus is another example of a Greek hero that you could say wouldn’t have been so noble. Theseus took the law into his own hands. Instead of catching a murderer and turning them over to the proper authorities, he would kill the criminal in a way that they had killed other people. If you went around killing people by flinging them with pine trees (in Sinis’s case) that is how Theseus would take care of you. When he made it to Athens, he had killed many bandits in this action, including Sciron and Procrustes. He was praised for this because the people didn’t have to deal with these criminals anymore. However, if this happened today, Thesesus would not have been praised the same as he was back then. People probably would have been happy that the bandits had been caught, but he would also have been sentenced to prison as a murderer. In Greek mythology, heroes weren’t the only ones to commit these kind of acts. The King of the Gods also did some not-so-noble things as well.

Zeus was known as the King of Olympus, but still had a problem: he cheated on his wife. He was the ruler of all the Gods. He was known for his wisdom, and earned being called the "noblest one of all". Thus being said, he did some pretty bad things for his title. He cheated on his wife, Rhea, with many other mortals and Goddesses. He was never punished personally for his actions, like he would be in today’s society. However, the kids he had with the other women were punished by Rhea. An example of this would be Hercules. Rhea was upset with Zeus for cheating on her, so he constantly tormented Hercules. This later drove him insane, and he killed his family. Hercules was punished and had to complete the twelve Labors. So as you can see, not even the head honcho of the Greek Gods would be considered so noble or great today.

Although there were Greek Gods and Heroes who were looked upon as great or noble, many of the things that they did today would not be the same. Achilles was a great war hero, but did some things that would be considered wrong today to earn that title. Theseus was also a hero to the Greeks, but today would just be considered a criminal with all the people he killed. Zeus, ruler of the Gods, cheated on his wife, which is a very dishonorable act in most parts of the world today. There are many, many things that are the same about today’s society and ancient Greece’s society, but there are still many things that have changed. As you can see, standards to be considered noble or a hero are one thing that have changed quite a bit.

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Panda Girl said...

Good job!! Something I just noticed... at the end of your paragraph about Achilles, you change tenses. Most of your essay is past tense (-ed) and then it suddenly changes to leads, drags, etc. instead of -ed.
It's very well written- I can tell you know a lot on the subject. Good job! I love mythology!! ^_^

The Soup Nazi said...

Thanks! I actually noticed that as I was revising it, and I corrected my mistake. But thanks! I love it too! :)