Achilles is the central character in the Greek mythology Iliad by Homers, while Gilgamesh is the main protagonist in the ancient Mesopotamian mythology, the Epic of Gilgamesh. While the two men legends came in different eras, they share a lot of similarities and discrepancies on how they lived and their desires. Both heroes possess superhuman strength as they are divine with close ties to the gods. Achilles is the son of Zeus, while Gilgamesh is two-thirds god. They are both concerned about their mortality and want to live long, renowned lives, as was the custom of Greek and Mesopotamia mythology. They both are great fighters and are respected by the people as Achilles fought in the Trojan War, and Gilgamesh used his super strength in defeating monsters sent by the gods to kill him.
Both Gilgamesh and Achilles have female colleagues who offer guidance to them and try to sway them from their doomed plans. Achilles has his mother Thetis, who warns him of his imminent death should he choose to go to war in Troy, and Gilgamesh has Siduri, the veiled tavern who tries to persuade him against his search for immortality (Pryke 97). Both women fail in their quests. The turning point in both heroes was the death of a close friend. For Achilles, there was the death of Patroclus, who pushed Achilles to rejoin the war, while for Gilgamesh, the death of Endiku, his close friend pushed him on his immortality quest. Achilles’ greatest fear was his name being forgotten after his death as he wanted his legacy to remain forever while Gilgamesh feared death, hence his pursuit for immortality.
Relationship Between Achilles and King Agamemnon
The relationship between Achilles and King Agamemnon was frosty as they both had different personalities and abilities. The lousy relationship originates from a power struggle as Agamemnon views Achilles as a threat to his kingship. Both men command respect and have an army who regard them as heroes, although King Agamemnon outranked Achilles in power. Achilles commands the myrmidons while Agamemnon has control over the other Kings and their armies. Achilles fought for honor while Agamemnon fought for power and the spoils of war. The spoils of war were what ignited the bad blood between them. The king had to give up his spoil of war back due to the plague that occurred as he took the daughter of a priest of Apollo who, in turn, cursed them. The king let the girl, Chryseis, go and, in turn, took Achilles concubine, Briseis, as his. This did not go well with Achilles as he felt his honor had been damaged and, after that, ordered his men to retreat, giving a big blow to the king in the war (Haywood, and Naoíse 45). The death of Patroclus, however, mended their relationship as they came together for the sole aim of winning the war.
Influence of the Relationship to the Role of Achilles
The relationship between the Achilles and Agamemnon deteriorated to a point where the Greeks were losing the war to the Trojans. Achilles had ordered his men, the best warriors of the army to stand down and let Agamemnon and his men take the city without his help. This led to Patroclus taking Achilles’s armor and led the myrmidons to war where he met his death. Achilles was angry and saddened by the death of Patroclus that he decided to rejoin in the war to subdue Troy. This was where the legend of Achilles was born as the men were rejuvenated and sang songs to Achilles in his honor. The frosty relationship shows the development of a character by Achilles as one who held women in high regard and treated them well. He treated the women in his life appropriately, as shown by his love for Briseis.
Role of the gods
The gods influenced the outcome of the war by meddling in the affairs of men, especially Achilles. When Achilles and Agamemnon quarreled over his treatment of the spoils of war, Athena, the god of war and wisdom, persuades Achilles to fight Agamemnon using his words rather than his sword as he intended to strike the king dead. Athena provided advice to Achilles in a time when his temper had taken control over him. After the death of his son, Hector, the king of Troy, pleaded with Achilles to let him give his son a proper burial. Zeus commands Achilles to release the body of Hector to Prium, his father. Zeus convinced his son to show mercy at the time when Achilles wanted revenge for the killing of his friend by the Trojans.
Haywood, Jan, and Naoíse Mac Sweeney. Homer’s Iliad and the Trojan War: Dialogues on Tradition. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018.
Pryke, Louise M. Gilgamesh. Routledge, 2019.