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The Iliad is the quintessential epic It is full with gods goddesses heroes war honor and glory However for just a short while near the very conclusion Homer avoids all of those epic qualities The banquet scene in Book XXIV is the most touching the most human scene in the entire poem In the midst of the dreadful gulf of war and anger there occurs an intimate moment between two men who ironically have much in common despite their monumental differences For this brief moment in the poem in a universe full of contradictions Homer shows us the presence of human dignity amid destruction and death Achilles and King Priam the principal characters have clashing personalities which engender dramatic emotional crises After his son Hector is killed King Priam old and fragile makes his way to the camp of the enemys greatest warrior late at night He bears what little treasures have not been exhausted by the ten-year old conflict and plans to plead for the rightful return of his sons body This is his final heroic endeavor Perhaps because he has just lost someone so dear to him he is able to gather courage and take this enormous risk Interestingly when he does arrive at Achilles camp Priams fear suddenly subsides and the old man makes straight for the dwelling where Achilles beloved of Zeus was sitting A decisive moment has arrived for both men When Priam enters Achilles knows that he must accept his own death with open arms while Priam is forced to sit at Achilles knees and kiss the hands that have killed his beloved son Hector Homer seems to stop the action for a moment to let us feel the intensity of this extraordinary encounter First he shows us how Priam urges Achilles to think of his own father Then Homer makes us feel for Priam for the sad position he is in a king who
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