Homer’s The Iliad is a timeless epic that reveals the events during the Trojan War around twelfth century BC. The lliad is an epic that has stood constant through thousands of years and is used in modern life. The lliad provides questions and produces stories throughout the epic and some have never been answered. The cause of Patroklos’ death has been debated and questioned throughout history; however, the cause of Patroklos’ death is due to the anger and selfishness of Achilleus. In the beginning of the epic, Agamemnon steals Briseis which sends Achilleus into a whirlwind of emotions, and anger becomes his focus.
Anger is an emotion which causes Patroklos’ death. Throughout the epic Achilleus begins to enjoy his anger more, causing him to become more spiteful towards Agamemnon. When the battle begins to look awful for the Achaeans, Agamemnon rushes to the best warrior in Greece, Achilleus. However, Achilleus has no reason to fight for Agamemnon or Achaians because he has everything he needs. Now as the Achaians are struggling to fight, Achilleus is relaxing in his tent, and Patroklos is left to fight for in Achilleus’ place because Achilleus does not want to reconcile with Agamemnon. Achilleus’ anger causes Patroklos’ death.
When Patroklos requests to fight for Achilleus, Achilleus allows him even though he knows it will end in Patroklos’ doom. Achilleus knows Patroklos will die, but he still prays to the gods to bring him back safely: But when he was beaten back from the ships their clamorous onset,/ then let him come back to me and the running ships, unwounded, with all his armor and with the companions who fight close beside him. (XVI. 246-248) This prayer shows that Achilleus is close to his friend Patroklos and he cares about his health: however, he still wants Patroklos to fight and return home safely so he does not have to step onto the battlefield.
Achilleus’ anger is a major theme that echoes throughout the epic; however, we realize his anger is not mature, rather childish which signifies Achilleus’ youth in The Iliad. In the first few books of The Iliad, the immature anger of Achilleus, due to another man stealing his girl, makes him run to his mother for vengeance: But even now/ the heralds went away from my shelter leading/ Briseus’ daughter, whom the sons of the Achaians gave me. /You then, if you have the power to, protect your own son, going to Olympos and supplicating Zeus. 1. 390-394)
His request, “Pin the Achaians against the ships and water, dying. ” (1. 409-410), foreshadows the death of his closest friend, Patroklos. If Achilleus acted more mature and reconciled with Agamemnon instead of becoming in love with his anger, Patroklos would have no reason to fight for the Achaians. From the beginning of the epic we see that Achilleus is the cause of Patroklos’ death because his request is the reason for Patroklos to fight and die. When Patroklos fights for Achilleus, he asks if he can borrow Achilleus’ armor.
Borrowing the armor signifies Achilleus allowing Patroklos to commit suicide. On the Trojan side, everyone knows to target Achilleus when and if he decides to fight. When Patroklos steps onto the battlefield in Achilleus’ armor, he places a target on his back. The Trojans know Achilleus is the best warrior and his armor is very valuable; Achilleus knows this as well, but he still allows Patroklos to fight in the battle. Not only does Achilleus’ armor kill Patroklos because it is a beacon in the battle, but also because it seems to give Patroklos some of Achilleus’ childish traits.
Throughout the epic we see that Achilleus feels as if he is better than the gods. The most similar display of Achilleus-like traits is when Patroklos ignores Apollo and continues to attack the Trojans: Three times Patroklos tried to mount the angle of the towering wall,/ and three times Phoibos Apollo battered him backward… As Patroklos/ for the fourth time, like something more than a man, came at him. (XVI. 703-704) When Patroklos ignores a god, we realize how impactful Achilleus’ armor is in the death of Patroklos. Achilleus, allowing Patroklos to borrow his armor, causes Patroklos’ death.
Not only does Achilleus allow Patroklos to fight in his place, Achilleus requests that Patroklos gain kleos, not for himself but for Achilleus, “But obey to the end of this word I put upon your attention so that you can win, for me, honor and glory… ” (XVI. 83-84). This signifies another trait in Achilleus that kills Patroklos: conceit. Achilleus feels he is better than the battle and his comrades, but he still desires kleos. Knowing that he will die if he steps onto the field and never experience the celebration and glory while he is alive, he allows Patroklos to fight for his kleos.
However, Achilleus does not realize that no one can fight for his glory, only he can gain the kleos he desires. Rather than fighting for his own kleos, Achilleus convinces his closest friend to fight for it. In an effort to please Achilleus and gain something that only Achilleus can achieve, Patroklos is killed. Patroklos is killed by Achilleus’ armor for the valuability it holds and the Achilleus-like traits it possess. During The Iliad, Homer references two locations: the martial and pastoral land.
The difference between these two places is not only the locations but also what happens on these two lands. The pastoral is home, it is happiness and most importantly it is life; in contrast, the martial is the battlefield, it is somber and it symbolizes death. We recognize that anyone who steps onto the battlefield has a chance of dying. Achilleus wants to return to the pastoral land. He has been warranted all his gera and now he wants to live happily at home. He does not want to risk stepping onto the battlefield and dying, so he finds someone who is willing to do so.
Achilleus uses Patroklos to fight the martial world while he awaits his glory and ship home. Patroklos will die for stepping into the martial land, where death runs rampant; Achilleus does nothing to stop him. The death of Patroklos has been a highly controversial debate, mainly because many have different ideas on who caused his death. The death of Patroklos is caused by Achilleus. Achilleus’ childish anger and immaturity, due to Agamemnon stealing his woman, causes Patroklos’ death because Achilleus refuses to fight under Agamemnon.
Allowing Patroklos to borrow his armor is a mistake Achillues makes, even though he knew what was right. Achilleus not only gives Patroklos his armor, but he gives Patroklos his childlike traits, causing the doom of Patroklos. In the epic, the separation of martial land and pastoral land is the difference between the life of Achilleus and the death of Patroklos. Patroklos steps onto the battlefield, the martial land, and loses his life as expected. These characteristics of Achilleus is the cause of Patroklos’ death. Achilleus’ actions makes him responsible for the death of Achilleus.