Homer’s Iliad: Analysis of a Passage Part One
Part 11 of an analysis of the passage from Homer’s Iliad where Iris and Achilles have a discussion and Achilles decides to finally join the fighting.
The passage that I found to be effective and meaningful was the section from Homer’s Iliad in which Iris came down from Mount Olympus and told Achilles that he should enter the battle through when Achilles cried from the trench. I found this section effective because of the way that Iris was able to persuade Achilles to enter the battle when so many before her had failed. I found the section in which Achilles cried from the trench to be very effective as well because of the great depth of dramatic details that helped to create a memorable scene in which Achilles had his first influential impact on the demise of the Trojans.
The first thing that set the discussion between Iris and Achilles apart from all the other conversations that Achilles had had about entering the battle was that Iris “addressed him in winged words.” When the Achaeans asked Achilles to enter the battle it was the pleas and desires of mortals. When Iris brought the message from Hera, the advice to enter battle was divine. Not even Achilles could ignore the winged words of Iris.
Another interesting aspect of the beginning of the conversation was that Iris had the epithet swift wind-footed Iris. In other parts of the Iliad, Achilles had the epithet swift footed Achilles. This seemed to show that Achilles the mortal and Iris the immortal actually had something in common. The stubborn Achilles may have actually listened to someone that was more like him than the rest of the Achaeans.
During the conversation between Iris and Achilles, Iris said, “Rise up, son of Peleus, most terrifying of all men.” We have not seen what Achilles was capable of in battle since we have not yet witnessed him fight in the Iliad, so we are left to speculate as to how powerful Achilles actually is. All throughout the earlier sections of the Iliad and even now, we hear from everyone else how terrifying and powerful Achilles really is. With this statement from Iris we were given another bit of information to add to our mental picture of what Achilles is really like in battle.