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Although the very first line of the Iliad state that it is Achilles’ anger that costs the Achaians thousands of lives, it is actually the Trojans who suffer the price of his anger. The Achaians suffered because of his pride.
When Agamemnon says that he is the most important warrior (1. 185-187), Achilles becomes angry, but his pride had already prompted him to threaten retreat rather than suffer the insult of having Briseis taken.
“And now my prize you threaten in person to strip from me…I am returning to Phthia, since it is much better to go home…I am minded no longer to stay here dishonored…” (1. 161-171)
When Agamemnon’s herald’s come to take Briseis, he vows not to fight until the battle reaches his own ships. (1. 335-342). As the Achaians’ losses mount, Agamemnon sends Odysseus to persuade Achilles to help. Once again, it is Achilles pride that stops him from accepting Agamemnon’s offering and joining the battle. Although he states other reasons - that he was truly in love with Briseis (9. 341-343) and that he’d rather live a long and obscure life (9. 411-420) - it is his still wounded pride that motivates his decision. His pride and honor must be restored, and only an apology from Agamemnon will do:
“All the other prizes of hounour he gave the great men and the princes are held fast by them, but from me alone of all the Achaians he has taken and keeps the bride of my heart…” (9. 334-336) “…not if he gave me gifts as many as the sand or dust is, not even so would Agamemnon have his way with my spirit until he had made good to me all this heartrending insolence.” (9. 385-387)
This need to have his wounded pride healed is made clear when he sees the injured Machaon driven past his ship. “…now I think the Achaians will come to my knee and stay there in supplication, for a need past endurance has come to them” (11. 608-609). Achilles makes it clear that it is not his fear o...
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