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Struggles Inside the Iliad

Characters in the Iliad feel as if they must perform incredible tasks in life in order for them to be remembered after they die. Because of this, their egos get in the way and bring rivalries among men. From the beginning of the book, one can foreshadow that many of the soldiers, as well as the gods, hold grudges against others. Some of the characters are forced to do things that they don't want to do. Some characters are frequently forced to choose between their loved ones and glory. The characters also struggle to accomplish individual tasks that aid the army as a whole. The characters must think of how their actions will help benefit their army. Many of the characters personal relationships are accomponied with some type of external or internal conflict.

In Book I Homer introduces the readers to King Agamemnon, commander of the Achaian army. He has taken Khyres, priest of Apollo's daughter, as a prize of war. Priest Khyres offers a handsome ransom to the Achaian army. However, because of Agamemnon's order, they decide to not accept it. Kalkhas reveals that because Agamemnon refuses to return Khyrseis Apollo has brought a plague upon their army. The plague will not be lifted until she is returned with no acceptance of ransom. Agamemnon agrees to return Khyrseis as long as he is compensated with a prize of honor. All the supplies that have been issued have been distributed and a prize of honor cannot be made. The soldiers encourage Agamemnon to return the girl anyway, in order to save his army. Agamemnon knows that this is the right thing to do but for a while he makes it seem as if he isn't going to do the right thing. This shows how greedy Agamemnon can be. However, Achilles protests against Agamemnon. This angers the King very much so, and he decideds that his prize of honor is going to be Briseis, Achilles' wife. Achilles is very offended because he has fought hard to receive his wife and now Agamemnon is going to take her away from him because he has the power to do so. Achilles feels very dishonored, so he asks Thetis to encourage Zeus to bring victory to the Trojans. Thetis pleas to Zeus to temporarily bring Trojan victory until the Achaians give honor to Achilles. For a long time Achilles holds a grudge against the Achains and refuses to fight for them. Not until he hears about his best friend's death does he choose to return.

In Book III we are introduced to a Trojan soldier named Alexandros. He is out in the front of the battlefield when he suddenly recognizes Menelaos. Once he notices Menelaos he dastardly slips back where he can not be seen. Menelaos is feared by Alexandros because he stole Helen from him. Hector encourages Alexandros to call Menelaos out to fight in single combat for Helen and all of her wealth. Hector goes between the two armies and stops the fighting in order for Alexandros to request single combat between Menelaos and himself. Once Helen hears of the fighting she flees to the battlefield in order to watch Menelaos, whom she yearns for, fight Alexandros. The armies make an oath to stop fighting once one of the men are claimed victor. If either nation breaks the oath then their man will be killed and his wife stolen. In the middle of fighting Aphrodite carries Alexandros away to Helen's chamber. Menelaos runs around frantically, searching for Alexandros. Since Alexandros is nowhere to be found Menelaos is claimed victor. Aphrodite returns to the battle to retrieve Helen, but Helen is mad at her because she wants to be with Menelaos. Once Helen arrives at her chamber Alexandros makes a confession of how passionately he is in love with her. She then agrees to make love with Alexandros, showing how obidient she is to Aphrodite. Back at the battle the Trojans are glad that Alexandros is nowhere to be found; they hope that he is dead because they are ashamed of him for starting the whole war. But by Book VI Paris has been persuaded to return to battle by his brother Hector and Helen.

In Book IV Athena transforms into the Trojan soldier Laudocos and encourages Pandaros to shoot Menelaos with an arrow. Pandaros blindly accepts her advice and prepares to shoot at Menelaos. In order for the shot not to be fatal Athena guides the arrow into his belt. Few soldiers realize what has happened to Menelaos. He suggests that Agamemnon not alarm the other soldiers, but also states that he will seek vengeance. This shows how vengeful the soldiers are. The two armies begin to advance on one another, and the fighting begins. Agamemnon strongly urges his army to fight quickly. Once the soldiers notice how much ordering Agamemnon is doing and how much fighting he is not doing they begin to get mad. The Achaian army respects their leader, but wish that he wouldn't complain as much as he does.

Diomedes gets stabbed by Pandaros's spear in the beginning of Book V. Athena gives Diomedes the strength to slay many Trojan soldiers and the ability to differentiate between gods and mortals. However, Athena advises Diomedes to only wound Aphrodite. This brings about the conflict between Diomedes and the gods. After slaying Pandaros and wounding Aineias, Diomedes stabs Aphrodite in the hand. Aphrodite retreats to Olympos, no longer capable of helping her son. Apollo takes her place. Diomedes overconfidently stabs Apollo in the stomach. Now the gods are angered by Diomedes actions and begin to lend a hand to the Trojan side. Hector is also aided by the god Ares and begins to slay many Achaians. Ares is wounded by the divinely driven chariot of Diomedes and Hera. Ares feels the wrath of Zeus once he returns to Olympos and complains about his injuries. All gods must be obidient to the great Zeus, because he possesses all power.

Characters in the Iliad are constantly forced to choose between their loved ones and the glory that they will receive from performing great feats. Hector travles to the city of Troy in order to instruct his mother, Queen Hecuba, and other noblewomen to pray for mercy for the Trojans in the temple of Athena. On his way back, Hector visits his wife, Andromache, and his son, Astyanax. Andromache begs Hector to stay and not return to battle, for she is determined that Hector is destined to die. Hector knows that he must return to battle. This shows the struggle that Hector must face. He can either stay with his wife and newborn son that he loves, or return to the war where he could possibly die. Although Hector is well aware of the dangers of war, he chooses to return to the battlefield with his brother Paris, ready to face whatever destiny the gods set for him. They suit up in their armor and prepare to fight.

Hector must go out and challenge all new comers to single combat. This shows the internal struggle that the Achaian soldiers must go through. Menelaos thinks that he is strong enough to fight Hector. However, Agamemnon convinces him that he is not. The Achaian soldiers hope that among them one may be capable of conquering Hector. Aias, a proud and confident soldier, must fight Hector. He strides out to the battlefield and strikes fear even into Hector. In Book VII one realizes that soldiers are compassionate for each other and it is a struggle altogether just to kill a man. Aias and Hector stop fighting and instead give gifts of friendship to each other. One also learns how proud the armies are. Since the Trojans broke the oath, the Achaians refuse to accept a gift of reparation. The Achaians must be somewhat confident. The could have just saved themselves from fighting this war any longer, but instead they make plans to collect their bodies the next day and build a fortress around their camp. In Book VII yet another conflict among the gods is present. Poseidon is upset that they are building great walls to protect their camp. He fears that those who marvel at the Achaian wall will forget about the wall he helped build to commemorate Laomedon. However, Zeus approves of the wall and tells Poseidon that once the war is over he can knock the wall down if he pleases.

Diomedes and Nestor travel in their chariot, attempting to kill Hector. Zeus sends out a lightning bolt as an omen to Nestor. With the conflict between Zeus and Nestor, Nestor is obidient towards Zeus and follows his advice. Nestor quickly turns the car around and backs off from Hector. Since Patroclos has died Hector becomes over-confident, thinking that he can kill all Achaians. However, he does feel that he must avenge his friend's death. Hector leads the Trojans, who are struggling to climb over the Achaian walls. They accomplish the difficult task. The Trojans set up camp by the Achaian walls and build watch fires. Now that the Trojans are beginning to win this war the Achaians wish that they had accepted the Trojan offering of Helen's wealth.

Some of the Heralds travel to Achilles's hut to offer him Agamemnon's riches. In return Achilles must come help the Achaian army. Achilles faces an internal conflict. He must overcome the hate he has for Agamemnon's actions in order for the Achaian army to make a come back. At first Achilles refuses to forgive Agamemnon. He feels that no gifts are good enough to compensate for Agamemnon's actions. However, once Achilles finds out about Patroclus's death he finally decides to rejoin the Achaian army, despite his mother's omens of death. One must understand that soldiers on either side of the war honor martial glory and bravery over a long life span. But once a soldier has been killed his body is not disregarded. The Greeks have respect for the dead. In ancient Greek culture a soldier must receive a proper burial in order for his soul to rest in peace.

At the end of the war Helen returns to Menelaos. While traveling back home to Sparta, Helen and Menelaos have a long and dangerous voyage. At the end of the Trojan war, Agamemnon returns with Cassandra, Priam's daughter. Clytemnestra holds strong resentment towards her husband since the sacrifice of Iphigeneia at the Athena's altar. Now she has fallen in love with Aegisthus. Once Agamemnon returns Aegisthus murders Cassandra and him.

There are many struggles between characters within the Iliad. Achilles has to overcome his resentment for Agamemnon's actions. The Achaian soldiers must forgive Agamemnon for being so hard-pressing during battle. Helen must choose between Alexandros and Menelaos. At first, Aphrodite makes her believe that she should be with Alexandros. However, by the end of the book she returns with Menelaos. Hector must choose between returning to his loving family or to the horrible violence of war. The gods must obey Zeus, for if they do not they will feel his wrath. These are only a few of the many struggles that occur in the Iliad. All of the struggles help the characters realize how their actions affect the outcome of events.