Document Type

Honors Project

Publication Date



This study argues that the Iliad is not the story of Achilles, as scholars tend to read it, but rather the problems of heroic identity in general (of which Achilles is simply a part). The Homeric hero possesses complex relationships with death, the divine, and the Greek community. Meanwhile, combat lies at the heart of the heroic task, and direct speech is the primary medium through which the poet develops his characters. Thus, I examine speech as an identity index in the Iliad’s combat scenes and chart the character development of three Greek heroes in particular through their speech: Diomedes, Patroklos, and Agamemnon. My final chapter discusses the identity issues of Achilles that scholars have long recognized and draws parallels between his speech and that of the other heroes, demonstrating that heroic identity conflict transcends Achilles alone. In the combat scenes of the Iliad, the minor heroes do not act as filler, nor do they simply serve to set up Achilles’ return to battle; they work with Achilles to build the work into a study of heroic identity.

Level of Honors

summa cum laude




Randall McNiell