The Iliad Theme of Pride
In the warrior society of the Iliad, pride is what makes the world go round. Nearly all of the book's male characters are motivated in some way by considerations of their social standing. (Some possible exceptions are Patroklos, who rises to the defense of the Achaians out of a sense of compassion, and Priam, who acts out of love for his son.) Often, pride is depicted as a destructive force, as when it leads to the conflict between Achilleus and Agamemnon, or when it causes Hektor to disregard the advice of Poulydamas and keep the Trojans camped on the plain. On the other hand, pride is shown as having some benefits. In battle, warriors are often reminded of their reputations to make them fight harder, thereby saving their own lives and those of their comrades.
Questions About Pride
- In Book 1, Agamemnon tries to discredit Achilleus's skill as a warrior, saying that it's only because a god helped him. Why do some characters take pride in their actions, even if they've received divine help?
- When Achilleus reacts against Agamemnon taking Briseis, do you think it is more because he loves her or because his pride has been hurt?
- Who is a greater victim of pride, Achilleus or Hektor?
Chew on This
The Iliad portrays pride as an essential ingredient in life – but only in moderation.
Female characters in the Iliad seem less influenced by pride than male characters.