This analysis calls in question cherished mainstays of Western culture.
Achilles is not merely the best, most terrifying fighter in the Achaian army. He
presents a shining example of the courage to speak truth to power and the independence
of mind to question traditional verities. He calls to account a commander
who sacrifices his troops, as he once sacrificed his daughter, to save
face and cover his own mistakes. When Agamemnon dishonors Achilles for
calling attention to these abuses, Achilles questions whether there is any point
to heroic striving. Yet as a paradigmatic hero-son Achilles exemplifies the opposite
of speaking truth to power: mollifying caregivers, glossing over abuse.
That Plato’s Socrates is modeled on Achilles raises the stakes of the critique.
Becoming Achilles, 3