Cattle and fat sheep can all be had for the raiding,
tripods all for the trading, and tawny-headed stallions.
But a man’s life breath cannot come back again—
. . .
Mother tells me,
the immortal goddess Thetis with her glistening feet,
that two fates bear me on to the day of death.
If I hold out here and I lay siege to Troy,
my journey home is gone, but my glory never dies.
If I voyage back to the fatherland I love,
my pride, my glory dies. . . .
With these words in Book
The choice that Achilles must make in this scene is between glory and life; it is not merely a matter of whether to accept the gifts or to continue protesting Agamemnon’s arrogance. At this point in the epic, Achilles has chosen life over glory, and he explains that he plans to return to Phthia. However, the allure of glory later proves irresistible when he finds a compelling occasion for it—avenging the death of his beloved friend Patroclus.
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