For many years, heroes have been known to give up their lives for other people. However, were it not for the death of Patroclus, Achilles' sacrificial act would not have taken place. When Agamemnon disrespected Achilles, he declined to fight battles regardless of his people getting conquered without his help. Agamemnon tried to reconcile with Achilles by presenting him with many gifts, but since Achilles was proud of himself, he refused to take the donations which according to Bowie and Homer, he disguised that "they mean nothing to him" (140). After Achilles heard that his best friend got killed, he became so angry that left him no choice but to participate in the battlefield. Achilles sacrificed his life in the war with the Trojan soldiers and managed to kill a number of them.
Bowie and Homer state that Achilles humbled himself and asserted to have "killed" Patroclus (160). He decided to take the blame for Hector's actions without caring whether his adored reputation would get criticized. Achilles even decided to forgive Agamemnon despite how painful it was, he finally accepted the gifts, lowered his pride and acknowledged he was not superior to Agamemnon. Achilles' sacrificial act made him bear all the embarrassment and decided to look for emancipation for the death of his best friend. At some point, he felt that his indignity was too much to bear Achilles stated that he did not want to live anymore (Bowie and Homer 161).
Achilles respected and honored King Priam even after he killed his son, Hector. He complied with the Kings orders, and he did not maltreat him in any way. According to Bowie and Homer, Achilles called the King "sir," made him supper and served him despite being in a higher position than the King of Troy (201). He even agreed to bury Hector's body according to the wishes of King Priam. The act of honoring, respecting and being humble by Achilles, gave King Priam a complete peace of mind and was able to control Troy in harmony and conquer the Trojan War with ease.
Colum states that Odysseus sacrificed his patience as he tolerated the insults and assaults of his servants especially Antonius who was the main suitor of his wife, Melanthius, the goalkeeper, and the maidservant Melantho. Melanthius interacted sexually with the other suitors and threw insults at Odysseus who had disguised himself as a beggar (42). On the other hand, Melantho dishonored the queen by insulting her as well while the King was still watching. Antonius is attacked suddenly by Odysseus after shooting an arrow straight to his neck and Eurymachus, another suitor, was shot right in his liver. Menthius and Melantho are mercilessly slaughtered due to their disloyalty and lack of respect to the King and Queen (Michalos 82).
Another act of sacrificial killing portrayed by Odysseus was when he encountered the god of the sea Poseidon. The god wanted to fulfill his son's wishes which included, making Odysseus arrive late in Ithaca, heartbroken, his shipmates lost and his house left in great mayhem. However, Odysseus was determined enough to get home in Ithaca, and so he decided to fight with the god. He managed to defeat him by blinding the one-eyed giant and managed to escape (Michalos 82). Odysseus also sacrificed to be a captive in the hands of the beautiful goddess Calypso who wanted to have an asexual affair with him. Odysseus proved to be loyal to his wife during the seven years in captivity, and this made him long to go home even more since he kept thinking his household was in danger and so he needed to act very fast.
Both Achilles and Odysseus worry about their loved ones, that is, Achilles is concerned about the death of his cousin and friend Patroclus while Odysseus is disturbed by the well-being of his family back at home in Ithaca. Achilles avenged his friend's death by killing Patroclus's killer, Hector who was the son of a King by stabbing him in the neck. Similarly, Odysseus managed to kill his wife's main suitor Antonius by shooting an arrow in his throat. It is due to their rage that they gruesomely executed their enemies.
Achilles and Odysseus endured insults and respected orders despite their circumstances. After Achilles killed King Priam's son Hector, he completely showed total respect and honor to Hector's father as he knew the love King Priam had for his son. The King was very harsh and gave strict orders which Achilles had no choice but to remain calm and adhere to them. On the other hand, after Odysseus reached his hometown Ithaca, he disguised himself as a beggar went to his house, and took the challenge given by his wife to the suitors who wanted to win her love (Dimas 109). Inside the house, the suitors began insulting the King without recognizing who he was. The insults came after he decided to defy the suitors. Also, other disloyal servants also threw insults at both the queen and the king. The abuses made Odysseus very angry, but he decided to remain calm to avoid disclosing his identity.
In both Achilles' and Odysseus' story, peace is established, after Achilles meet with King Priam, he lowers his pride and takes responsibility for his actions. Achilles gives King Priam all the respect he deserves and serves him wholeheartedly like his real father. This enabled Achilles' rage to calm down and have complete piece of mind. On the other hand, after Odysseus revealed himself to Penelope, there was a very peaceful moment between them as his wife felt protected while Odysseus felt his family was finally safe.
King Priam accepted Achilles to be a replacement of his loved one. Achilles decided to take the place of Hector as Priam's son, and he managed to pay all the respect a father needs from his son. In contrast to this, throughout Odysseus' journey, he refuses to become a replacement for Penelope, his wife whom he loves so dearly. This is seen when Calypso wanted to lure Odysseus into sexual immorality, but Odysseus declines (Dimas 109). Calypso is angered by Odysseus' actions as all her tricks are countered by Odysseus' wisdom, and so he is held in captivity for seven years to delay the time of his home arrival.
Achilles felt guilty and remorseful after he killed Hector while Odysseus was proud of eliminating the suitors who caused chaos in his household (Colum 27). Achilles deeply regretted his actions that he claimed to have killed Patroclus. His guilty conscience led him to serve Hector's father King Priam and acted like his "replaced" son. Odysseus, however, was very relieved to have killed all the suitors that made his family uncomfortable and was happy to see his people safe. He rewarded all the loyal servants that managed to stick with him even during his absence which lasted for about twenty years away from Ithaca.
Bowie, Angus M. and Homer: Odyssey books xiii and xiv. Cambridge University Press, (2014), 136-247.
Colum, Padric. The Making of Odysseus the Hero in Homer's Odyssey. International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature 6.7 (2017), 21-48.
Dimas, Panos. Knowing and Wanting in the Hippias Minor. Philosophical Inquiry, 38.3/4 (2014), 106-118.
Michalos, Alex C. Ancient Views on the Quality of Life. Ancient Views on the Quality of Life. Springer, Cham, (2015), 1-90.
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