Achilles' death

Achilles' death

Achilles' death

event Friday, September 27, 2024 schedule 3.00pm - 4.00pm BST
event Friday, September 27, 2024 schedule 3.00pm - 4.00pm BST
  • Dying Achilles (Achilleas thniskon) in the gardens of the Achilleion
Destiny and Narrative in the Iliad
In-person | Free
Open to: 
Alumni and guests
Faculty of Classics | View details

Join Franco Basso to interrogate the inevitability of Achilles’ death in the Iliad.

The poet of the Iliad, like any aoidos, tells a story that in its basic tenets is already established and his audience would have expected from the opening of the poem that Achilles will die at Troy. But does the poet also represent Achilles and his mother Thetis as knowing this already for certain from the beginning of the poem?

The assumption on which most discussions of Achilles in the Iliad are founded – and which has fundamental consequences for the understanding of the way in which the poet represents his character – are grounded in either a reductive assessment of Achilles’ avowed intention in Book 9 to leave the war and embrace the possibility of a long life without kleos (9.393-420), or the conclusion that the poet is not interested in providing a consistent account of his character.

In this lecture, Franco Basso will lead you on a close reading of the relevant passages and will question the idea that Achilles’ and Thetis’ talk of the former's death a Troy as already inevitable in Book 1 – exploring the interpretative possibilities that arise from the fact that Achilles death is revealed to him as inevitable only later in the poem.


Franco Basso

Franco Basso

Franco Basso studied Classics at the Scuola Normal of Pisa and at Oxford, where he taught for ten years before joining the Faculty of Classics in Cambridge.

He is a University Associate Professor in Classics and a Fellow of Gonville and Caius College.

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Faculty of Classics
United Kingdom


The Festival Team
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