Homer, the celebrated Greek literary artist penned the seminal epic, Iliad, to document the heroic tales of the great warriors of the land. His literary works have become immortal and still enjoys great popularity all over the world. The characters of the epic have been immortalized in the history of literature and the quintessence of artistic expression has awed readers and critics alike. The tales of war and glory have been given superhuman status owing to the expression of the epic.
The character of Agamemnon is one of the most pivotal ones in the course of the epic. Most importantly, he is a human character who is more close to the common emotions of human beings and shows the complexities of personality. His power and position does not hide is flaws.
Agamemnon ascended the throne of Greece by inheritance. He also became the supreme commander of all the armies of the kingdom. Odysseus and old Nestor both came forward to acknowledge his paramount power and stature in the kingdom. He was seen as the epitome of stability who could do much good to the Greek society. Agamemnon was liable to ensure the smooth running of the state under his rule.
The principal duty of Agamemnon was to ascertain effective policies and look after the state. But, it is comprehended as the events unfurl that he is not the best possible man for living up to the expectation of running the state, in spite of his immense power and stature. He needs counsel to run the affairs of the state.
He sacrifices his own daughter to reach the land of Troy. On the one hand, he comes across as righteous person as it seems he is eager to give justice in response to Paris’ act, while on the other he is too brutal and guilty of sacrificing his own daughter and goes on to indulge in further crimes as revenge.
It can be comprehended that he worked to fulfill his personal ambition and did not pay much heed to humanity and love. Agamemnon even went on to disrespect his spouse in front of the chorus and his mistress, Cassandra. He does not care about anyone else respect or pride and seems to be too self-centered.
Agamemnon is a believer of the will of gods. He utters that god accomplishes everything in the mortal world. He is very often guided by his emotions in times of taking decisions of paramount importance. When Nestor advices him not to take Briseis away from Achilles, he hardly pays any heed to it and does what he feels like. This initiates a number of events which end up in massacre of the Achaean soldiers. However, Agamemnon still remains disrespectful of Achilles.
Agamemnon is arrogant and it is impossible to miss out on the times when he shows his immense pride in his words and actions. He has expectations of having the biggest share of the plunders of the Trojan War, but takes the least risk in the course of warfare. Homer shows him as a very shrewd person who comes across as an inappropriate leader. He grabs the very first opportunity to be named the leader of the army and then goes on to test the loyalty of his soldiers by falsely declaring that the Greeks would return back home.
He resorts to manipulative techniques and uses the situations for his own benefit. He is mellowed down in approach, yet very cunning. It is hard to feel any emotional link with such a character with a very cold heart. He very compromises on his status in power hierarchy and honor. The very central conflict as described in the Homeric epic has its roots in the trait of Agamemnon to become aggressive with Achilles, the intrepid fighter, over his war-prize Briseis which starts the breach between the two powerful men.
However, Agamemnon shows concern for his sibling, Menelaus. Agamemnon understood the omnipotence of the family order in the Achaean society and so he was determined to make Helen return to his brother as that would have upheld the family order helping in the cohesive nature of the society. But, the good traits get overshadowed by much extent by all the negative traits he shows in the course of the events.
Agamemnon is also someone who shows his vulnerability. He takes many decisions which are unfair and incorrect at times when he feels depressed or disheartened. He could not understand that a leader should not be a slave to his emotions as it would mean a huge flaw. With authority one requires to exude responsibility, but he fails to do so and yearns for fulfilling his personal wishes.
Agamemnon is arrogant and that makes him fail to comprehend the extent of his power. He commits the grave mistake of keeping Chryseis and thinks that a return would mean losing his face. He, however, listens to the counsel of Nestor, Odysseus and Diomedes later on. Nevertheless, that never brings much difference as his failure to judge things and tendency to get emotional impedes in his matters of kinship.
He tries to make amends and get on good terms with Achilles by returning Briseis, he ends up insulting the brave warrior. While in depression, Agamemnon thinks of abandoning the Trojan War which shows his incapacity of being stable with his decisions. He shows his weakness as a ruler being coward, immature and obstinate.
The people of the Greek empire respect him, but Agamemnon does not find affection of the people due to his faults of character. By the end of the epic, he, however, comes across as a person who has grown better as a warrior and leader in contrast to what he was before. It needs to be taken into account that he is a character who fails to learn from the mistakes he has done and thus never becomes successful in reaching any conclusion.
Thus, Agamemnon can be understood to be one of the driving forces of the epic. He might not be an inspirational character, but he is very close to reality. He has all sorts of traits in his personality and still shines among all the other powerful characters which have been portrayed in the Homeric epic. He is a powerful, yet vulnerable character who is pious and malicious at the same time.
Agamemnon, in spite of all the characteristic flaws, is one of the most important characters in the Homeric epic and his actions drive many events which follow. His character has been immortalized in the pages of literature by the work of Homer. He continues to be one of the most human characters from the epics. He lingers in the minds of gazillion avid readers all over the world. The critics have talked of the sheer quintessence and immortality of the epic which talk of the stories of wars. The Homeric work delves deep into the psyche of the human mind and brings out the very intricacies of the myriad human emotions and the following consequences.
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