Heroes: Does Achilles or Odysseus Possess Greater Aretê?

The following sample Communications essay is 560 words long, in MLA format, and written at the undergraduate level. It has been downloaded 554 times and is available for you to use, free of charge.

In this scene, Odysseus encounters Achilles in the House of the Dead, where Odysseus begins to express his admiration for the great warrior. He proudly regards Achilles’ “position” in the House of the Dead as one of lordship; a master over his un-life and the other dead. He says to Achilles, “Time was, when you were alive, we Argives honored you as a god, and now down here I see, you lord it over the dead in all your power” (Fagles 265). It is immediately clear that Achilles does not share in Odysseus’ enthusiasm when he replies, “No winning words about death to me, shining Odysseus! By god, I’d rather slave on earth for another man- some dirt poor tenant farmer who scrapes to keep alive- than rule down here over all the breathless dead” (Fagles 265). Between their discussions, the despairing Achilles seems to possess greater arête, as he has begun to believe, unlike Odysseus, that a legacy without the power of life is meaningless. Odysseus, who has yet to experience the emptiness and longing of the dead, is surprised at Achilles’ desperation to return to the living, even if it meant being someone with a difficult, ubiquitous life - one of constant need to bestow begrudged hospitality, or Xenia, upon their neighbor. This sentiment, expressed by Achilles, demonstrates wisdom that had been gained from his easy, fame-driven life to an existence removed from anything or anyone he cared for. In the end, he begs to know about his son, not how people wonder at his legacy and disregards Odysseus’ praise of him. 

In one of the film’s pivotal moments, Lionel, deliberately baiting Albert to anger, asks “Why should I listen to you?” Discuss Albert’s reply: “Because I have a voice!” as it relates to this week’s topic on stuttering.

This scene between Lionel and Albert underscores a social problem concerning people who stutter. The incorrect assumption is, if a person cannot communicate well, or at least on the level of the listener, they are not worth listening to or acknowledging. Albert is very distraught over his lifelong apraxia, which is brought out strongly by stress and anxiety and seriously undermines his confidence. Like most people who stutter, Albert is terrified by the notion of speaking publicly, which is necessarily time-sensitive and pressure-filled. Additionally, in his day-to-day life, Albert avoids talking frequently with acquaintances, due to the awkwardness and impatience he senses from others. Of course, these social realities simply make the problem worse. Albert, like all people who stutter, knows exactly what he wants or needs to say, the impediment simply prevents him from expressing himself in a timely or standard fashion. When Albert responds to Lionel, “Because I have a voice!”, he is expressing his frustration at not being able to communicate his thoughts to others. He feels like he cannot earn the respect he deserves from others, despite his position as king of England. While the film depicts some methods which have been proven ineffective in treating stuttering, such as talking with marbles in the mouth or cursing gratuitously, it also highlights meaningful therapies still used today. Although many myths still prevail, such as was implied in Albert’s history with his father, the film still highlights the real social problems that people who stutter experience daily.

Work Cited

Fagles, Robert. The Odyssey. New York: Viking, 1996. Print.