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Safa Chowdhury ENG 2800 Heroic Conduct and Civic Obligations at Odds Aristotle once said that "the man who is incapable of working in common, or...

Aristotle once said that "the man who is incapable of working in common, or who in his self-sufficiency has no need of others, is no part of the community, like a beast or a god." The conduct of Achilles and Agamemnon in the Illiad validates Aristotle's fears: both them have strikingly different conceptions of the moral obligation appropriate to themselves and remain steadfast in their convictions.

In your paper consider the extent to which Agamemnon and Achilles's moral obligation are truly in conflict. How people who hold such opposing views on morality (and life in general) avoid the kind of tragic conflict portrayed in the epic?

I know I didn't address the question properly. Can you please help?






Safa Chowdhury ENG 2800 Heroic Conduct and Civic Obligations at Odds Aristotle once said that “the man who is incapable of working in common, or who in his self-sufficiency has no need of others, is no part of the community, like a beast or a god.” In other words, as Jewett translated from Aristotle Politics (c340 B.C) “The proof that the state is a creation of nature and prior to the individual is that the individual, when isolated, is not self-sufficing; and therefore he is like a part in relation to the whole. But he who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a god: he is no part of a state.” (Book 1, para 2) In Homer’s The Iliad, Achilles and Agamemnon, both the characters depicted the characteristics of the man defined by Aristotle. Achilles and Agamemnon, both are a great man, but both are hot-tempered and are conscious of the role they must play within the heroic code. They are not willing to make any compromises or accept anything lower than their heroic code. They believe they are superior than many other and are in need of no one. Due to their self-sufficiency attitude, many times in the epic, their arrogance has clouded their moral obligations and for that, many people around them had to suffer for it. Agamemnon, King of the Greeks has the characteristic of being “the man who is incapable of working in common” as Aristotle states. When Chryses, the priest of Apollo, begged Agamemnon in front all Agamemnon’s chieftains to return his girl whom Agamemnon took as victory prize from conquering Chryse, he offered ransom and asked to respect him for his profession, Agamemnon dismissed him in a harsh way. He said, “don’t let me catch you, old man. ...the girl is mine, and she’ll be an old woman in Argos before I let her go, working the loom in my house and coming to my bed, far from her homeland. Now clear out of here before you make me angry!” (Homer 231; line 34-40) Agamemnon did not show
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Safa Chowdhury ENG 2800 the respect the priest deserves and clouded his moral judgement, because he believes that being the king makes him superior than a priest, so he can treat the priest anyway he wants. Eventually when Apollo cursed the Achaian with a deadly plague after Chryses ask to serve justice to him, Achaian chieftains requested Agamemnon to return the daughter to her father as they realized it is because of her their people are suffering horrible death. Agamemnon’s arrogant attitude lead him to refuse to return the girl until one of the other chieftains comprises their victory prizes for him. Letting go of his war prize while others keeping theirs, will mean he is accepting something lower than his heroic code. He says, “I don’t want to see the army destroyed like this. But I want another prize for me right away. I’m not going to be the only Greek without a prize. It wouldn’t be right.” (Homer 233; line 125-129) When Achilles, the greatest warrior, spoke against his request, Agamemnon order Achilles to compromise his war prize, Briseis, for him. This outrageous order made Achilles extremely angry and lead to an argument between this two great man. Eventually Achilles decided to withdraw himself and his troops from the Achaian army as he felt humiliated for his war prize being taken away from him. Achilles says, “I’m going back to Phthia now. Far better to head home with my curved ships than stay here, unhonored myself and piling up a fortune for you.” (Homer 234; line 179-181) In response to that Agamemnon said, “Go ahead and desert, if that’s what you want! I’m not going to beg you to stay. There are plenty of others who will honor me, not least of all Zeus the Counselor. To me, you’re the most hateful king under heaven.” (Homer 234; line 183-186) Clearly in this situation, Agamemnon depicts the characteristics of “who in his self-sufficiency has no need of others”. He has overshadowed the need of his people. Greek needs Achilles, the great warrior, to lead the war against the Troy, but Agememnon is filled with self-sufficiency to accept it. Agamemnon has forgotten his moral obligation towards his people and let his arrogance take over the responsibility towards its people and initiated a division between its people. Moreover, it is
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