Achilles is humanized during his epic journey but manages to get to the status of the Epic hero. He uses various literary devices to communicate his theme and make the reader have a clear understanding of it. Some of those literary devices used include imagery in the form of extended and simple simile, symbol and plain. Foreshadowing is also used in this context together with a narrative structure of retelling history by use of mythological, historical and personal examples. The other form of literal used in the poem is formulaic statements which are relatively close to idioms. This paper will look at how he communicates his theme by use of the above forms of literary devices.
This verbal form acts as a hint of events that will take place in the future. The device helps the reader to stay excited, interested and in an anticipating mood. One of the examples of foreshadowing in the poem is a case involving two friends by the name Achilles and Patroclus. Achilles, who is a great hero, leave the battle-field behind when a dispute between him and the leader of the Achaean (Malcolm Davies, 182). The Achaeans start to die in droves since their great soldier is no longer in the field. Patroclus asks his friend to borrow the armour belonging to the great man so that he can help his side. The reason behind Patroclus using the shield is because it would bring inspiration to the Achaeans and therefore promote faster demoralization of the Trojans. The friend agrees to lend him his armour and gives him a warning that he should only drive them back but do not dare to pursue them. The narrator admonishes the latter because he fails to follow the instructions. The act of Patroclus going back to battle is a foreshadow of Achilles return to the field. The narrator indicates that Patroclus would fine ”dark death and an evil fate” which foreshadows his forthcoming death. The other instance where foreshadowing has been depicted is during “crossing the line” when Prince Hector brags and taunts to Patroclus of how he is such a mighty warrior (Bressman et al.). That kind of disrespect and taunting foreshadows the same disrespect shown by Achilles to Hector. He is later killed by Achilles, an event that was foreshadowed by him when he was shooting Patroclus. The other example of foreshadowing in the poem is when Achilles talks of being short-lived which foreshadows his eventual death in the poem. Foreshadowing, as applied in the context, has shown how various utterances and activities became true later on.
These are statements that include some pause fillers which include Er, Uhm, e.g. and Like and speech formulas like Excuse me, Hang on a minute and others. They are mostly related to idioms, but in their case they are over-used. The statements can be depicted in the various instances, such as when Achilles asks questions that got no answers and makes demands that are hard to meet (Bakker &Egbert). He questions why there was a need for fighting with Troy and requests to be paid back of the disgrace caused by Agamemnon (Richard). The narrator allegedly terms that as a misuse of language by Achilles and describes it as ‘passionate, confused, continually turning back on itself,’ which is taken as the latter’s inability to in the world of heroes. Discussions continue to build upon the language of Achilles and whether he makes untraditional or traditional statements when using them. The other example is where Steven Nimis tries to compile the views of Adam Parry and Claus about ‘rule-governed creativity’ (Koch &William, pg. 167). Achilles is compared to a “sign-producer who wishes to change the ‘code,’ to articulate a meaning for whose communication and accurate reception no adequate conventions exist as yet.” The kind of changes made by Achilles seems to have applied hyperbole and oxymoron and his denial in sharing a typical meal with the rest after Patroclus dies.
This is a literal device that is used to give the reader a collection of visual images or figurative language and helps him or her to understand the poem better. The narrator uses the device to depict war as something that can deform and break people. Some of the imageries used by the author are that of nature such as wine-dark sea and rosy-fingered dawn. In book 6, the literal device depicts lamentation upon futility (Stein, pg. 447). An example of such depiction is the statement that follows: ‘Very like leaves upon this earth are the generations of men – old leaves, cast on the ground by the wind, young leaves the greening forest bears when spring comes in. So mortals pass; one generation flowers even as another dies away.’ The imagery in the poem expresses soldiers and armies as forces of nature who are inevitable and destructive like fire during the time of drought(Lucy). That shows the state of the violent occurrences of the battlefield which kind of looks like a distraction from that narrative, but thenit gives various ways of getting it right. The other example is in the idea of a community where a Queen by the name Helen weaves Trojans’ pictures who had died and were continuing to die in the battlefield. The images are of Trojans and not her people or the gods (Pitts, pg. 1). The imagery presented in that context helps the reader in undermining any tendency that he or she might have in viewing the armies as two different groups. The solidarity of men in the armies is expressed in lines of spears and shields that are linked and those that form a wall. That is during the fight that was very brutal regarding Patroclus’ body. The imageries are selected carefully by the narrator so that they can give the audience some strong sense of the poem and the events that were taking place.
Conclusively, the epic journey has been described by the use of several literary devices. The forms of expression, as used in the poem, helps the reader to have a clear understanding of the poem and the events as they followed. Imagery enables the user to visualize some of the occurrences by the use of the expression in the poetry. Foreshadowing creates anticipation as it is an outline of what will happen in the future. Formulaic statements describe a method of doing or saying something which is criticized as it does not prove to be original. The devices have contributed to the development of the poem and the clarity of points.
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Bakker, Egbert J. Poetry in speech: orality and Homeric discourse. Cornell University Press, 2018.
Bressman, Joshua Philip. “Achilleus: Immortal Glory through Humanity.” (2016).
González, Marta González. Achilles.Routledge, 2017.
Koch, William. “Achilles and the (Sexual) History of Being.” Borderlands and Liminal Subjects. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, 2017. 167-186.
Lucy Barnhouse,Imagery in The Iliad
Pitts, Angela L. “The Iliad, Force, and the Soundscapes of War.” Environment, Space, Place 11.1 (2019): 1-37.
Richard P.Martin, The Language of Heroes: Speech and Performance in the Iliad
Stein, C. D. (2016). The Life and Death of Agamemnon’s Scepter: The Imagery of Achilles (Iliad 1.234–239). Classical World, 109(4), 447-463.
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