First & Last Name The page numbers are not correct here Professor Martin



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First & Last Name The page numbers are not correct here


Professor Martin
ENGL – 2332
24 June 2007 This is a well-written essay and a critical analysis of the Homeric protagonists—for these reasons, it is included as an example. However, the writer needs to get a step further to develop an interpretative claim and argument.
The thesis is highlighted in yellow.
On its own, each body paragraph is an insightful character analysis, BUT the essay is setup or structured as a list of similarities. The writer needs a specific "argumentative-interpretative" thread to connect these similarities—the blue-highlighted passages come close to such a thesis. In fact, the first “blue passage” could be the thesis. The existing structure of the essay would work fine: an analysis of heroism, then how deceit and honor fit in.
Overall, this essay is solid—with a refined thesis and some cutting/pasting, it could be superb!
Identifying the Identical
Upon reading Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, one recognizes multiple themes and similar ideas and concepts. Both poems are similar, not in storyline or in the choice of main character, but the stories hold very analogous meanings and viewpoints. Both stories deal with the lives of war heroes and the journeys of these particular men. In each story the characters face many trials and embrace many of the same beliefs. Apart from their trials, these characters both portray the same characteristics in personality. In taking a look at the two poems, there are noticeable similarities that both stories share and through a deeper investigation, those similarities help the reader to understand the ideas behind the stories. The comparisons made between these two poems seem to be viewpoints that many other writers can agree with and support, with their own opinions. In both Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, the portrayal of the persona and the driving force behind that persona are two of the most prevalent ideas that dominate the essence of both stories.

So much of who the characters in Homer’s works are can be defined by the situations that each of the characters are faced with or surrounded by. Both of the main characters are warriors who are surrounded by the war scene. Their constant exposure to battle life has created an identity in these characters that has shaped their personality as well. The war creates a heroic identity for the characters and goads the reader to assume that the characters are very brave, adventurous, and strong. This same idea of bravery and heroicness is understood by anyone who has read Homer. M. E. Heatherington shares this same idea when he writes that “he [Odysseus] takes on the role of hero” noting that he does portray the characteristics of a hero because he actually says that Odysseus is a hero (234). This heroic identity is recognized throughout the entire journey that Odysseus takes. Winning victory after victory and being known for the triumph over Troy, Odysseus has gained a very high esteem in terms of heroicness. In the Odyssey the minstrel sang of the victory of Odysseus and how “Odysseus came . . . and braved the desperate fight” against the Trojans (Homer VIII. 540-542). He was known for his power and heroic qualities and this same characteristic is true for Achilles in the Iliad.

Throughout the poem, Achilles had been noted as being a great warrior and heroic fighter. Multiple times, when the Achaeans were fighting the Trojans, the people would cry out to Achilles to help them fight. This is a sign of Achilles strength and the people’s dependence on him. In book IX of the Iliad, Odysseus and Ajax appeal to Achilles so that Achilles will help them fight the Trojans. They ask him to “put [his] fighting power in harness” and lead the Achaeans to victory (Odyssey IX. 279). After many petitions for him to fight, Achilles finally agrees to fight in book XVIII. At this point the Trojans were in fear because Achilles was known for his great power and the men did not know what to do when “the great Achilles who held back from the brutal fighting so long had just come blazing forth (Odyssey XVIII. 285-287). Achilles knew that if he were to fight he would face his own death, but his bravery and loyalty to his men led him to his death with bravery and the same heroic spirit that gave him his admired reputation in the first place.
For each of these characters, Odysseus and Achilles, the driving forces of honor and deceit are behind their heroic acts and play a significant role in their achievements. For Odysseus, power and honor are a key motivation in his successes: “[T]he drive for power [even] permeates the whole of Homeric society” (Reyes 27). Power is something that provokes the sense of heroicness in both characters, for power is what makes them seem heroic to many. Honor also plays a role in their heroic qualities as their successes and triumphs reflect and influence the honor and respect that others show them. Because they value their honor so highly, they are respected and that respect feeds the idea that these men are heroes. This paragraph could be moved after the paragraphs about deceit. Obviously if the blue passage were used as the thesis, the topic sentence would change.

Another quality that the characters of both stories share is their deceitfulness. Whether effective or inappropriate, deceit plays a identical role in the character of Odysseus and Agamemnon. Agamemnon’s deceit is seen very quickly in the Iliad when in his attempt to keep his prize, he loses it and cheats Achilles out of his prize. Agamemnon’s pride is something he cannot afford to lose, so when he is forced to give up his prize, a woman, he turns around and takes Achilles’ prize for himself. The deceit plays in this situation when Agamemnon seems to be giving back his prize in order to appease the gods and stop a curse on his men. His plan the entire time was actually to give up his prize, knowing that he will get Achilles’ prize in return. After he returns his woman he quickly reveals his plan to “take a prize [himself] – [Achilles’] own” prize without telling him (Iliad I. 162).

The deceit that Odysseus engages in is when he disguises himself at the palace of Alkínoös. During his visit, Odysseus was challenged to a discuss throw in their games of track and field. After the “spinning disk soared out, light as a bird, beyond all others,” the people were

amazed yet still did not know who exactly he was. Odysseus in disguise even asked the minstrel to sing a song about him and no one knew. This deceit is not of the same nature as Agamemnon’s was, but the deceit and lies are still present in both characters.

Achilles participates in deceit of his own when he turns his back on the Achaeans and asks Zeus to curse them until Agamemnon apologizes and returns what is rightfully his, along with his honor and respect. Achilles appeals to his mother and asks her to appeal to Zeus, telling him to curse Agamemnon by leading him blindly into war with the Trojans, making him think that he has a chance against them. The entire time the Achaeans are at war with the Trojans, no one knows of the deceit that Achilles as taken part in except for Achilles himself and the gods who determine the fate of the war.

The driving force behind the characters’ deceit is similar to the motivation behind the heroic identity of the characters. Honor is a significant motivation in all aspects of humankind in Homer’s writings. To lose honor is to lose respect and when a man has lost that, he is nothing. Honor is a major motivator for a man to deceive another, in order to keep that honor. In fact part of Odysseus’ deceit is used in order to “regain his Eden” and return home quickly and unharmed (Heatherington 236). Jefferson Hunter notes that “honor is the armor of a dead hero, bitterly fought for” (27). Odysseus fights to keep his honor by keeping his life and taking the lives of others who are in his way. Achilles’ deceit is different from the deceit that Odysseus participates in. Achilles driving force for his deceit is justice. As Reyes points out, “Agamemnon breaks tradition by taking back Briseis” and this deceit results in Achilles’ deceit against the Achaean army. Achilles takes part in his deceit in order to find justice in Agamemnon’s betrayal. Achilles wants justice for what was done to him and that is why he deceives the Achaeans.

While the characters of the Iliad and Odyssey share in their characteristics of deceit and heroicness, they also share similar emotions. Achilles portrays his emotional side when he enters the war and when he gives Hector’s body back to the Trojans. The reader at these points sees that there is a huge driving force of emotion in Achilles that makes him a more honorable man. Hunter writes about his character when he talks about how Achilles “in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god” noting that Achilles is a just and fair man who controls his emotions and uses them for good (Hunter 31). Just as Achilles shows a sympathetic and lighthearted emotional side, Odysseus shows that same side in his life. Throughout his long journey home, many times Odysseus gets homesick for his family. When the reader first sees Odysseus after hearing about his heroicness and his bravery and strength, it is surprising to see Odysseus so sorrowful and tearful. It is at this point that the reader understands that Odysseus is one who has a lot of emotion and he is not afraid to show it. He is still the hero that he is known for by all, but he has a gentle side to him that creates a more loving character.

In reading both Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey the reader can conclude a number of things. There are many similarities between the two poems and not only in storyline, but mostly in the persona of the protagonists. In both cases, the characters exhibit the same qualities of heroicness, deceit, and emotiveness. These qualities help readers understand the plot as a whole more vividly and easily. Through careful analysis of the characters and the driving force behind their actions and personas, one can identify the similarities in both stories. While the stories aren’t exact, a reader can learn a lot from both of them or from just one of them, and though the message is not exactly the same, the morals behind the lesson are worth reading about.

Works Cited


Heatherington, M.E. "Chaos, Order, and Cunning in the Odyssey." Studies in Philology 73.3 (Summer 1976): 225. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Learning Resources Center, Allen, TX. 3 July 2007 .

Homer. Iliad. The Norton Anthology of World Literature Volume A. Ed. Peter J. Simon. 2nd ed. New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 2002. 120–225.

Homer. Odyssey. The Norton Anthology of World Literature Volume A. Ed. Peter J. Simon. 2nd ed. New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 2002. 225-530.

Hunter, Jefferson. "Iliad and Odyssey, Object and Performance." Kenyon Review 8.2 (Spring 1986): 26. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Learning Resources Center, Allen, TX. 3 July 2007 .



Reyes, G. Mitchelle. "Sources of Persuasion in the Iliad." Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2002. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Learning Resources Center, Allen, TX. 26 June 2007. .

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