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Concluding Homer's Iliad Essay

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The last three books of The Iliad provide three different endings, but together they work to present a more encompassing conclusion than any one of these books provides alone. Book XXII and XXIV discuss the events of Hector's death and burial emphasized by Achilles actions, while Book XXIII provides a transition between the two. Together, these books emphasize the dilution of Achilles rage as is contrasted by the fall of Hector and the subsequent fall of Troy.

Book XXII of The Iliad is a crucial book to the final ending of the epic, as it signifies the fall of Hector and the eventual fall of Troy. This book alone ties together the culmination of Hector's fate and the melting of Achilles' brutal rage. In the battle between the two heroes, the fate had already been decided, for it was Hector who was "a harrowed, broken man marked out by doom," (II.69-70). The theme of fate is repeated throughout the epic and concluded in the final books with the fates of the two warriors of which Zeus "placed two fates of death that lays men low- one for Achilles, one for Hector breaker of horses- and gripping the beam mid-haft the Father raised it high and down went Hector's day of doom, dragging him down to the strong House of Death," (XXII.250-254). The death of Hector foreshadows to the fated fall of Troy, for without their mightiest warrior, Troy will no longer be able to withhold the ensuing Achaean forces. In this book, an emphasis is placed on the interconnection of events throughout the epic. Hector's earlier moment of glory when he killed Patroclus and stripped him of Achilles' armor sealed his fate for the duel between Achilles and Hector for he knew exactly where the armor was vulnerable, and where this "one spot lay exposed...Achil...


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... burial of Hector: "All will be done, old Priam, as you command. I will hold our attack as long as you require," (XXIV.787-788). Homer concludes the epic with the withering of Achilles' potent fury rather than with his death or the fall of Troy emphasizing the centrality of this rage to the poem as a whole.

These three endings provide a more complete and subversive conclusion to The Iliad than any one of these books could provide alone. The circumstances of each book set into motion the fading rage and contempt that imprisons Achilles in his actions through the entirety of the poem. The final sentence epitomizes the conclusion of the epic as a whole- "And so the Trojans buried Hector breaker of Horses," (XXIV.944). With Hector's burial, Troy will now fall ending the Trojan war, and finally appeasing the rage that had consumed Achilles through epic's entirety.



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