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Strategy Versus Brutality

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Victory is oftentimes attained not only by brute strength of the fist but more so by the shrewd prudence of the mind. Homer's epics, The Iliad and The Odyssey, prove the aforementioned statement to be accurate. Set against the backdrop of the Trojan War, The Iliad additionally involves a bitter argument between Agamemnon and Achilles. Achilles, a demigod, is renowned for his awesome physical prowess that stirs fear into the heart of any man. The Iliad begins, ends and pivots on Achilles' rage. He is the warrior responsible for turning the tide of the war after the death of his friend Patroclus as he wreaks havoc on the Trojan army. Achilles is also credited with the murder of Hector, which demoralizes the Trojans. Achilles' strength may be great but another Greek's actions, and more importantly his decisions, prove to be the true cause of Greek victory. The cunning and cleverness of Odysseus are instrumental to the war as Odysseys continually uses his versatile mind to come up with ingenious ideas. The deceptive Trojan horse and later in The Odyssey the brutal fooling of the Cyclops and the sly conquest over Circe clearly illustrate Odysseys' guile and his superiority over Achilles - it is true that Achilles, being the strongest Greek, had a significant impact on the war, but without the mental capabilities of Odysseys, the Greeks would not have won the war and even though only a few of them actually returned home, Odysseys devoted much time and effort to saving his comrades.

Throughout The Iliad, many great warriors are presented, Greek and Trojan alike.

Aeneas, Paris, Hector, Odysseys, Agamemnon and Ajax are just some of them. The unimaginable power of Achilles, however, considerably surpasses that of all other fighters. Being a demigod and a favorite of Zeus, Achilles has no parallel. Even Agamemnon, with whom Achilles has a bitter quarrel, recognizes the strength of the man when he declares "That man is worth an entire army,/ the fighter Zeus holds dear with all his heart" (IX, 141-42). Achilles' departure from the war proves to be significant as the Greeks begin to lose their edge. Its only when he gloriously returns to battle that tide is turned. After Achilles' esteemed friend, Patroclus, is slain by Hector, Achilles swiftly re-enters the war to avenge his death. On his quest to come across Hector, Achilles manages to stave off the entire Trojan army. He is described as, "...storming with brandished spear / like a frenzied god trampling all he killed / and the earth ran black with blood." (XX, 557-59) Not only does Achilles physically kill a numerous amount of Trojans, he also begins a mental conquest over them as he incites dread into their hearts. Achilles, even beyond his own abilities, even has the audacity to challenge a god, the River Xanthus of Scamander, to battle. In a burst of fury Achilles "..leap[t] down from the bluff, / plunged in the river's heart and the river charged him." (XXI, 265-66). Achilles does inflict a fair amount of damage as the river is "choked with corpses" (XXI, 248), regardless of the fact that a god cannot be vanquished. Certainly Achilles realizes this fact, yet his resolve to plunge into combat is never shaken. There is never an instant when Achilles' merciless onslaught diminishes and such unyielding courage cannot be seen in any other mortal. Achilles' prominence is best shown when he defeats and slays the premier Trojan warrior, Hector. In all his glory, Achilles "charged...barbaric...bright as the star amid the stars in the night sky....bent on Hector's death" (XXII, 369-377). Hector is slain and the Trojans demoralized which soon results in a Greek victory. Achilles superb force remains a main reason why the Greeks won the Trojan War as he destroyed much of the Trojan army, demoralized them by taking their leader, and did all this with courage of a man who knows no fear.

Another fearless soldier took part in the Trojan War and became a crafty leader among the ranks of the Greeks. Odysseys of Ithaca, who originally desired to abstain from the war, eventually entered and using his clever tactics played an immense role in assisting the Greeks during the war, at its conclusion and even on his voyage home. When Menelaus called on Odysseys beseeching him to join the Greeks in war, Odysseys played mad in an attempt to bypass the long-lasting conflict. His guile did not work to his advantage that time as he was found out; however being gained for the undertaking, Odysseys lent his aid to bring in another reluctant chief, Achilles. Thetis', Achilles mother, sought to prevent his leaving and sent him to an island, concealed in a maiden's garb. Odysseys slyly dressed as a merchant and advertising weapons revealed Achilles' true identity and easily persuaded him to join in battle. Odysseys' cleverness is shown further in The Iliad as he assumes the role of an intermediary between the impassioned Agamemnon and the hubristic Achilles. There are many instances during which Odysseys mediates during their long-standing quarrel and often prevents each from making rash decisions. In book XIX when Achilles returns to the war, Odysseys finally brings the quarrel to an end by advising that the two kings have a feast together as peace offering. Odysseys' potentially most significant strategy and the one of most consequence to the conclusion of the war was the supreme deception of the Trojan Horse. After the death of Hector, victory was near yet Troy still held out. As the Greeks began to despair, Odysseys devised a plan to build a large wooden horse, fill it with armed men, and give it to the Trojans as a conciliatory offering of peace. Pretended preparations would be made as if to lift the siege and some of the ships with the rest of the Greeks would sail away as if departing. The Trojans accepted the offering and rejoiced at the seeming end of the war and midway through the night the Greeks exited the horse, set the city on fire, put the people, overcome with merrymaking and sleep, to the sword, and Troy was completely routed and ruined. The Trojan Horse marked the ultimate end of the war and without Odysseys its brilliance would not have been realized. Odysseys' duplicity, aside from The Iliad, is also evident in The Odyssey. Faced with the dilemma of sudden death at the hands of the brutal Cyclops Polyphemos, Odysseys cleverly tells him "My name is Nohbdy: mother, father, and friends, everyone calls me Nohbdy" (IX, 381-83). Thus fooling the beast, Odysseys prevents death for many of his men. Another instance in which Odysseys saves his men is at the house of the witch Circe. Circe is quite capable of deceit herself as she turns many of the men into



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