Comparing Characters From Antigone and Iliad Essay Example

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  1024 Words
Date:  2022-12-08

More often than not there are literary works that bear similarities or differences that can easily be compared or contrasted. A case in point would be the books of Antigone and Iliad, two iconic Greek stories that have left an indelible mark in the world of literature. The two books can be compared or contrasted on many fronts. Not least their themes or characters that can be analyzed from a similar or contrasting perspective. The two books have their lead characters who are the main protagonists and who their respective authors have used to bring out the under lying themes of fate and role in society. This comparison essay will delve into the literary work of Homer in the 'Iliad' and the literary work of Sophocles 'Antigone' to evaluate the similarities in their leading characters of Achilles and Antigone respectively. This literature essay will compare the character of Antigone from 'Antigone' with a character from another literary work, 'Iliad'.

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As one can conclude from reading through the texts, the characters of Achilles and Antigone are similar in various ways. One of the ways in which the two leading characters in each of the literary novel are similar is through their heroic status. The two characters are both heroes because the texts describe them as some of the most skilled warriors in their respective lands. The societies in which they live describe the characters with honorific epithets and their heroic status is further boosted by the fact that they have an ancestry that originates from divinity. The heroes are able to stand out among characters in the novels and it is all due to their enhanced status as the heroes of their stories. The challenges they face are not much of a tough ask because they receive divine help in overcoming the tests that they have to go before emerging triumphant.

In the two characters we see another similarity in which both are on a quest for personal excellence within the societies in which they live. There are countless people in the Greek society who would like to embark on this quest since once an individual excels, they feel superior to others who do not possess the character of an adventurous spirit that is filled with conquest. In the midst of this heroic pursuit for excellence, the common thread is that there would be honor that comes from the society, peers, and from the war. Achilles is after this honor, just like Antigone, as the two characters would not let even the warning of their imminent death deter them from engaging in battle to obtain this honor. Homer notes in the 'Iliad' that, "Let me not then die ingloriously and without a struggle, but let me first do some great thing that shall be told among men hereafter" (Homer).

The character of Achilles in Homer's 'Iliad' and that of Antigone in Sophocles' 'Antigone' are also similar in their quest for personal revenge. Honor and the urge to get revenge push Achilles to do all he can to avenge his befallen close friend Patroclus. He states, thus; "Come, Friend, you too must die. Why moan about it so? Even Patroclus died, a far, far better man than you'' (Homer). This shows his human side even though he is a hero touted to operate under the will of the divine powers. It is a clear depiction of a selfless man who has an emotional side despite his heroic status within the society. This shows him abandoning the heroic status in preference of showing feelings and getting emotional about his fallen friend. It is another portrayal of honor in which he pays his respect by showing care, a side of him that was concealed and non-existent until the death of his friend. This is similar to the character of Antigone who at a tender age of just 14 years does all she can to bury her dead brother in the most honorable way possible. She goes ahead and ignores the King's orders that had stipulated that Polynices, her brother, would not receive a dignified burial because he was a traitor. All she wants is too do the right thing and giver her brother an honorable sendoff irrespective of the King's decree. She proceeds to bury her brother despite the reality that this places her life at risk since she was ignoring a direct decree coming from King Creon. She says, thus; "A city which belongs to just one man is no true city" (Sophocles). The two characters are similar in that they appear in Greek mythology even though Achilles was a real life individual while Antigone remains a fictional character portrayed by Sophocles in his iconic literary work 'Antigone.' Both were fighting worthy battles for the honor and respect of their befallen friend and brother respectively.


Achilles heroism is evident to all and much respected thanks to his link to the gods. The same heroism shines through Antigone for various reasons. First of all, she is only 14 years of age. With regard to her age, she asks, "It is not right if I am wrong. But if I am young, and right, what does my age matter?" (Sophocles). The second reason that justifies her heroism is the fact she is a woman in a male-dominated society. She does the unthinkable by standing up against and blatantly ignoring his orders. She says, 'We have only a little time to please the living. But all eternity to love the dead' (Sophocles). Here heroic courage is driven by the need to do the right thing which is to bury her brother. Her heroism is not centered on going to win wars in the battlefield by killing other warriors, but it is depicted through her defiance which sees her fight a different war. She got into war against a powerful enemy with resourceful means to vanquish her while putting her life on the line. These two characters in both texts compare with plenty of similarities as the essay shows.

Works Cited

Homer and Rodney Merrill. The Iliad. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2007. Print.

Sophocles. Antigone. Greek Department, Vassar College, 1893. Print.

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