Quora Answer: The Iliad: What makes Achilles such a compelling character?

Oct 18 2014

I have written about this numerous other places on Quora. What makes Achilles character compelling is that he is an archetypal example of the confrontation of nihilism within the Western worldview. He realizes that Trojans and Achaeans are basically the same, they both steal women, and that the whole war which the Achaeans are involved with against the Trojans is meaningless. Thus he refuses to fight, but that leads to Patroclus being killed in his armor, which sends him into a Berserker rage which is the nihilistic opposite of doing too little, enraged he becomes inhuman doing too much, and is only brought back to his humanity in the encounter with Hector’s father, when he realizes that he like Hector will never see his own father again. The Iliad puts its focus on the human being caught up in a nihilistic situation which when it is realized that it is nihilistic sucks meaning out of their world, and this is the situation we all find ourselves in within this worldview, and so the Epics are a manual on how to live in a worldview that at its core generates nihilism continually and causes both alienation and anomie in its inhabitants.

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