Character Analysis of Agamemnon Power as prime motivation In The Iliad, Homer gives us many characters to examine: Some characters are simple while some are complicated, some are heroic, Some are cowards, some are motivated by the desire for keels and plunder while some are motivated by power. Each warrior goes into battle With different responsibilities, Obligations and motives depending on rank and class. For example, a king has different motivations for going to war than a soldier has.
Each warrior has his own character traits and personal issues that in part determine his actions in the memo. King Agamemnon is an example off man with great power and responsibility; Agamemnon is the commander of the entire Greek army. His social position taken along with his personality will heavily influence his decisions in The Iliad. Agamemnon is a man motivated by the need to maintain power, dominance and control. Power is the prime motivator or guiding psychological trait that influences Agamemnon actions throughout The Iliad.
In book one of The Iliad, Homer tells sets up the action of the story with a conflict concerning a captured slave girl named Chrysler. In the story, Apollo is angry with the Greeks because they captured the daughter of one of his holy priests, The priest offered Agamemnon “a priceless ransom” in exchange for his daughter (14). Agamemnon refused the offer: “don’t tempt my wrath—and you may depart alive” (37), This is an example of a king protecting his status: Agamemnon does not see any reason to give back his war prize: Chrysler.
To give back afar plunder in this circumstance may be seen as a sign of vainness_ Agamemnon feels that his position is being threatened by this attempt to take back his war prize. His refusal to yield to the priest of Apollo causes Polio’s league on the Greek army. Clash, a seer, tells Agamemnon and the rest of the Greeks the plague Will not end until the girl is returned to the priest Of Apollo (I 111-2). The news is not received well by Agamemnon. He explains that he is very upset at the loss Of his slave girl (I. 131-2).
He understands as a king he must protect the lives of his people (1. 136-7). Agamemnon further explains that it is not proper for his prize to be taken away when the other Greek leaders’ get to keep their prizes; He wants to be compensated by the Greek army with another prize since he must give up his (1. 388). This can be seen as a completely appropriate reaction for a man in Agamemnon position. If all the Greek leaders get war prizes, why should King Agamemnon be the only one to loose his? A great leader must always be aware of how he is perceived by his army.
It was no fault of Agamemnon that his war prize happens to be the daughter to Polio’s priest. It would be totally unfair for Agamemnon to suffer any public loss in this situation. It would BEA threat to his control tooth army and to Greek unity. A kings rank should be honored and respected as a matter of protocol and national pride. In this example Agamemnon has his personal pride to deal with in connection with protecting his position. In this case the two issues are almost the same: A king must be prideful to a certain extent in order to protect his position.
Achilles argues publicly with Agamemnon over Agamemnon voguish for another war prize because it would mean taking the prize of another Greek leader. In the argument that follows between Achilles and Agamemnon, Achilles is very disrespectful to his king, calling him “shameless and greedy’ (1. 175-6). Agamemnon is not a weak king. He Will not be publicly challenged by anyone, to even “godlike Achilles” (1. 154). Agamemnon tells Achilles that he Will take his prize, Bruises, in order to make an example out of Achilles for challenging him and to discourage others hoping to rival Agamemnon strength for strength” (1. 21)! In this situation it is important for Agamemnon to retain dominance. Who does Achilles think he is anyway? Achilles is not the king of all the Greeks, Agamemnon is. Agamemnon is in a bad situation already, having to give back his war prize, The following attack on his authority by Achilles is a double blow to Agamemnon. He has no choice but to SE his position to dominate Achilles, He had to put Achilles in his place, Achilles was way out to line: Disrespecting Agamemnon is a threat to the whole Greek war effort, Again, maintaining power is the reason Agamemnon acts the way he does.
Agamemnon does take Achilles’ arises, just like he said he would Idle threats are a sign of weakness, He had to follow through with his threat to maintain power. In Book two, Agamemnon shows his concern for maintaining power and control over his troops by organizing a trick to test their loyalty. He tells the men to retreat while the other leaders try to keep the men from running away (86-7). He also follows Nesters advice in organizing the troops into separate clans in order to clearly see who is loyal in battle (430-5). Agamemnon is clearly preoccupied with maintaining power over his army.
In Book nine, Homer tells us Of a meeting between Agamemnon and the Other Greek leaders. Nester advises Agamemnon to make peace with Achilles by giving him “gifts Of friendship and warm, winning words” (135). At this point in the Story it is becoming obvious that the Greek army needs Achilles in order to win the war; The Trojan army is camping outside the Greek ships (9. 89). Agamemnon understands that he must do something to bring Achilles back to battle. He admits that he was wrong to take Bruises from Achilles and promises to give her back along with a “priceless ransom paid for friendship” (9. 45). Agamemnon offers all this to Achilles under the condition of Achilles’ submission to his authority (9, 189), Agamemnon even has the tack to send Nester, Odysseus and Ajax to relate the message to Achilles: These are people that Achilles respects. This is consistent with Agamemnon character. He will not sacrifice his power or authority at any cost. In Book nineteen Achilles is ready to return to battle not because of any offer from Agamemnon but because of the death of his best friend Patrols.
Agamemnon uses this opportunity to publicly “set things to rights, at once” by admitting he was wrong and giving Achilles all the things he promised before (19. 163-51 Agamemnon knows that public opinion is important here. Agamemnon keeps his word. He publicly gives Achilles all that he promised (13. 286-7). This is the way Agamemnon does things. He has integrity. At this point Achilles is returning to battle no matter vat Agamemnon does. Agamemnon knows this. Everyone knows this. It is clear that Achilles is returning to fight because his friend Patrols died. Agamemnon does not have to give Achilles anything.
Agamemnon gives Achilles the huge treasure to make a point. It makes Agamemnon look good to give so much to Achilles. It shows that Agamemnon is not stingy. It shows that Agamemnon is wealthy enough to keep his word. Also, in a sense it looks like Agamemnon is buying Achilles’ loyalty. It makes Agamemnon look like the one in control if he can dictate the terms Of Achilles return with presents. This shows Agamemnon continual concern to maintain power. Even though Agamemnon knows Achilles is returning to battle he must maintain his dominance and position at all costs.
In Book twenty-three, Homer gives us a final example of the character of Agamemnon. In the funeral games there is a spear-throwing contest in which Agamemnon is one of the competitors. In this situation the first place prize is automatically given to Agamemnon because of his rank (989), Agamemnon “could not resist” (992). This tells us something about what is appropriate in Greek culture. The king is preferred and given the prize even without competing, What would it look like if Agamemnon competed and lost?