He is no 'Hellene'. In the fighting at Troy he is against the Achaioi: he destroys the Greek host, he champions Hector, he even slays Achilles. In any case, and this is the important point, he is at Delos the chief god of the Ionians. The Ionians are defined by Herodotus as those tribes and cities who were sprung from Athens and kept the Apaturia.
Let not Agamemnon take away from the bravest of the Greeks the prize of war; let not Achilles, though he was mightier in battle than all other men, contend with Agamemnon, who was sovereign lord of all the hosts of Greece. But he spake in vain. For Agamemnon answered, "Nestor, thou speakest well, and peace is good.
But unto him with grim gaze spake Achilles fleet of foot: "Hector, talk not to me, thou madman, of covenants.
Out upon thee, that thou canst not sustain in argument the character which thou wouldst so fain, assume to thyself!" "Peace!" said the Grecian. "I have as yet gained nothing, it is true, over this obstinate and inflexible man; but, Achilles Tatius, neither have I lost.
The second act begins with the rejoicings over the marriage of Iphigenia. The general joy is turned to lamentation by the discovery of Agamemnon's vow and the impending doom of Iphigenia. Clytemnestra passionately entreats Achilles to save her daughter, which he promises to do, though Iphigenia professes herself ready to obey her father.
You may imagine Brasidas and others to have been like Achilles; or you may imagine Nestor and Antenor to have been like Pericles; and the same may be said of other famous men, but of this strange being you will never be able to find any likeness, however remote, either among men who now are or who ever have been other than that which I have already suggested of Silenus and the satyrs; and they represent in a figure not only himself, but his words.
Yet even critics may be in the right, and of all great poets, Tennyson listened most obediently to their censures, as we have seen in the case of his early poems. His prolonged silences after the attacks of 1833 and 1855 were occupied in work and reflection: Achilles was not merely sulking in his tent, as some of his friends seem to have supposed.
There was something in this arrangement which pressed hard on the conscience of Achilles Tatius, yet he was at a loss to justify his apprehensions to himself, unless from a conscious feeling of his own guilt, he felt, however, that in being detained, under pretence of an honourable mission, at the head of the Varangians, he was deprived of the liberty of disposing of himself, by which he had hoped to communicate with the Caesar and Hereward, whom he reckoned upon as his active accomplices, not knowing that the first was at this moment a prisoner in the Blacquernal, where Alexius had arrested him in the apartments of the Empress, and that the second was the most important support of Comnenus during the whole of that eventful day.
Achilles is the swift-footed, when he is sitting still. Ulysses is the much-enduring, when he has nothing to endure. Every spear casts a long shadow, every ox has crooked horns, and every woman a high bosom, though these particulars may be quite beside the purpose. In our old ballads a similar practice prevails.
He darted forward among the first ranks and shouted saying, "Argives, shall we let Hector son of Priam have the triumph of taking our ships and covering himself with glory? This is what he says that he shall now do, seeing that Achilles is still in dudgeon at his ship; we shall get on very well without him if we keep each other in heart and stand by one another.