Strife Versus Stasis: The Paradox of Achilles in Hades

Document Type : Original Article


English Language and Literature, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran.


Achilles in the Odyssey prefers being a surf in the land of living to be a king in Hades. His attitude to heroism in The Odyssey contradicts his valorous character in The Iliad. Critics have viewed such contradiction as either a paradoxical rejection of heroism or a pessimistic view of death in general. This paper aims to look at the paradox from a different angle. It is the frozen nature of Hades that Achilles grieves most. In Hades, he is a psyche among other psyches who cannot fulfill any ideal including aristeia or to excel others. Hades is a place of stasis and passivity in sharp contrast to the moving world of the living. Achilles who once strove under the shining sun on the battlefield is now an idle shadow doing nothing. Thus, the stasis in Hades contrasts the strife in the living world and is the cause of Achilles’ paradoxical attitude to heroism.