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Achilles, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Their Views on Justice and Honor

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    Achilles, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Their Views on Justice and Honor

    Achilles and Martin Luther King, Jr.—these characters are, upon hearing their names, seem strikingly different and positively contrasting. One of them is a more modern figure in society and another is a more of a Greek mythological persona. But there is one essential difference between their characters.

    Martin Luther King, Jr. is the eloquent leader of the African-American civil rights movement. He is usually recognized for the way he has helped the African-American people come through and stand up for themselves when they were unfairly treated and rise above everything that all the white people had been disapprovingly saying about them. He is an icon and a role model for the people who are discriminated for their color or their race. King, judging from what he has accomplished throughout his life, seems to have construed “justice” as a virtue. An intangible idea, the unsaid rule that everyone was obligated to follow. “Honor” to him was respect for every human—black, white, yellow, blue—deserves. People of every culture and of every kind have a mind, heart, body and soul and deserve honor. Each one has a purpose in this world. Every single person deserves justice and honor and everyone should have the mind to know that fact and the heart to be able to feel it. He did not only believe in honor and justice for people who are racially discriminated. He believed in economic justice. He believed in peace, which is honor to every person. A justice to the human race. King had only begun his movements with the “colored people” who were becoming more and more insulted and harmed, not only verbally but also physically. But he soon extended his helping hand and his influential and powerful voice to all disadvantaged Americans, as well, and fought for all of their equal rights.

    Achilles of The Iliad, known in his time as one of the mightiest and most fearless of warriors, was strong, in will and in body. Achilles was also known for his said immortality save his heel. In the Iliad, Achilles disagreed with the way Agamemnon ruled the Greek nations. He did not even want Agamemnon considered as “his king” because he was a very proud man, as well. He would much rather fight for himself and for the people of Greece and lead his own army than to fight along side a tyrant. The definition of “honor” in Achilles’ perspective was to be able to live through the ages forever known as the greatest warrior that has ever lived. To be able to be remembered in the hearts and minds of billions in his time and after him. To be able to be immortalized. Honor was his main reason for fighting in the ever-popular Trojan War. He did not fight for the benefit of Agamemnon. Achilles knew that this war would be told and would last for a thousand years. He wanted to take immortality from the hands of this war. To Achilles, honor was the glory, the dignity the worthiness that was achieved in winning the wars he fought in. Justice was also a very important term in the life of Achilles. Agamemnon wanted to conquer Thessaly and decided to have their warrior against his best warrior in order for there not to be too much bloodshed. He called onto Achilles but he did not come out. He discovered that Achilles was still back at the camp, asleep. When he arrived at the war, Agamemnon naturally got angry with him. This, in turn angered Achilles because it seemed as if he were being belittled, being treated as a slave and decided that he should walk away and leave his king to fight his own war. But, he was convinced to stay because he was reminded that he would be saving a great number of soldiers from injury or even death and save a great deal of families from heartache. If he fought this battle now, he would be doing a beautiful deed for his fellow countrymen. This is justice. This is one poof that he really did believe in it. He fought knowing that rationality, the reason, and the justification behind his decision to fight instead of letting all these men suffer. It would not be fair and just if he knew he could simply kill one man and not have to kill one hundred. It would not be fair and just if he simply walked away to let them fight when he could’ve saved them from a great deal of bloodshed. Justice, to him, was the fairness and equality that people deserved. In Achilles’ own way, he believed in justice.

    These two characters were both true heroes in their own way. On my opinion, both looked at honor differently but viewed justice similarly. Martin Luther King, Jr. looked at honor as goal and a dream that he wanted to achieve for all people. It was not exactly a matter of personal issue, but he wanted to achieve honor for everyone and not only himself. Achilles, on the other hand, looked at honor as something that is more like a personal desire and aspiration of his. Though, others wanted it as well, he strived to have it for himself and longed for it more than any other man. But, they may have looked at this differently but their ideas of justice were not so dissimilar. They both believed justice was for everyone. They both knew that all people had the right to fair treatment. Though King fought for justice for the disadvantaged Americans and Achilles brought justice to the lives of many Greeks, they both pictured this virtue that is justice similarly: they both pictured this virtue that is justice similarly: they both saw it as something everyone deserved.

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