If, like Achilles, you could choose between a short life with eternal fame or a long life with no lasting recognition, which would you choose? Why?
I would rather live a short, glorious life than endure a long, uneventful existence. Gandalf's description of the effect of the Ring on mortals in the Lord of the Rings is a perfect example of the life I would like to avoid. "A mortal, Frodo, who keeps one of the Great Rings, does not die, but he does not grow or obtain more life, he merely continues, until at last every minute is a weariness." I couldn't stand to simply continue, and neither could Achilles. He needs something to live for. When Hector kills Patroclus, Achilles' only reason for enduring a safe, inglorious life was destroyed. Only then would he enter the battle to fight for the Greeks. "I will go forth to slay Hector, who killed the man I loved. I will accept my fate whenever Zeus and the other immortals bring it upon me. Until then, may I win great fame and glory, and may every Trojan realize that the greatest of the Greeks no longer remains apart from battle" (145). Achilles is unmoved by the opportunity to win fame for the Greeks in exchange for Agamemnon's gifts (140). He will only cover himself in glory to avenge his friend.
Rosenberg, Donna. World Mythology. NTC Publishing Group: Chicago, 1999.
Tolkien, J.R.R. The Fellowship of the Ring. George Allen & Unwin: London, 1954.