Dumbledore said, “It is the choices… that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities. ” This theory applies to everyone. Through the choices and actions of Theseus and Achilles, we learn a lot about their characters. We find Achilles to be motivated by rage and pride, with ambitions of glory and vengeance. Theseus, on the other hand, seems to be motivated by others’ needs, and aspires to do right by those who he should help. Theseus also likes to challenge expectations and overcome the “impossible”. Theseus begins his saga with a journey to Athens.
He chooses the difficult and dangerous land route, as opposed to the sea route, because he wants the challenge. On his way, he completes six tasks that make him a great hero. He kills robbers and murderers, helping innocent potential victims, delivering justice, and making a name for himself. Once he arrives in Athens, he kills some of the people who plan to attack him. Even though they are not innocent and pose a threat to him, he doesn’t kill about half of them, including his uncle Pallas. This shows his solid reasoning. When Theseus captured the bull of Marathon, he met a normal, old lady, and paid her significant respects in her death.
Theseus was seen as a “champion of the oppressed. ” For example, he gave Oedipus a place to live after he chose exile. Achilles’ ambitions and motivations had little in common with Theseus’. He was driven by anger, the need for vengeance, bloodlust, and excessive pride. He strived for eternal glory. Achilles played a huge role in the Trojan War, a situation that aligned perfectly with his personality. He showed no humility in slaying others. He mutilated Hector’s body. He refused to accept Agammemnon’s great gifts out of his hubris.
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In the end, his need for vengeance overcame even his dispute with Agammemnon, and his sole purpose was to destroy Hector, afterward mutilating his body. He was miserable, but finally learned compassion. Achilles and Theseus were very different heroes. Their choices and actions clearly outline their motivations and ambitions for us. Theseus is motivated by the excitement of challenges, and the opportunity to help others. His ambitions are greatness, but, more importantly, justice and aiding those in need. Achilles’ motivations are negative and his ambitions shallow. However, at the end of his life, we see a positive change in his personality.
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