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Lucy Yao


Bold Points






[ I want to believe that I’m ivy. * That I’m the sprawl of ancient leaves cascading down gothic history archways. * That I’m someone who reaches out tendrils to every discipline to investigate and discover. * And that if I am ivy, I will overtake it all in hopes of absorbing every knowledge contained within. * ] [Chinese-American from the Bay Area who has thrown herself into way too many ambitions for her own good — all with the aim of making a change in this world, locally or globally. ]


Mission San Jose High School

High School
2020 - 2024


  • Desired degree level:

    Master's degree program

  • Majors of interest:

    • Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services, Other
    • Environmental/Natural Resources Management and Policy
    • Geography and Environmental Studies
    • Communication, Journalism, and Related Programs, Other
  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:

      Management Consulting

    • Dream career goals:

      Make all packaging environmentally friendly such as seaweed plastic, bamboo straws, and biodegradable packing peanuts

    • Kindergarten and 5th/6th Grade Teacher

      Giraffe Learning Center
      2021 – 2021
    RonranGlee Literary Scholarship
    The Iliad: “Now you cannot bring yourselves to save him, though he is only / a corpse, for his wife to look upon, his child and his mother / and Priam his father, and his people, who presently thereafter / would burn his body in the fire and give him his rites of burial. / No, you gods; your desire is to help this cursed Achilles / within whose breast there are no feelings of justice, nor can / his mind be bent, but his purposes are fierce, like a lion / who when he has given way to his own great strength and his haughty / spirit, goes among the flocks of men, to devour them. / so Achilles has destroyed pity, and there is not in him / any shame; which does much harm to men but profits them all. / For a man must some day lose one who was even closer / than this; a brother from the same womb, or a son. And yet / he weeps for him and sorrows for him, and then it is over, / for the Destinies put in mortal men the heart of endurance. / But this man, now he has torn the heart of life from great Hector; ties him to his horses and drags him around his beloved companion’s / tomb; and nothing is gained thereby for his good, or his honor. / Great as he is, let him take care not to make us angry; / for see, he does dishonor to the dumb earth in his fury.” (Homer 498, 35-54) The Resolution of Achilles’ Menis Homer has begun the epic of the Iliad with the theme of anger. Even deeper than anger though, this epic is a tale of Achilles’ menis, a destructive wrath comparable to that of a god. From his anger with Agamemnon and his poor leadership, to his rivalry with Hektor, and finally to the death of his beloved Patroclus, it all culminates into a beautiful show of aristeia, the display of a warrior’s excellence. And according to every other instance of aristeia in this tale, this should be enough to end menis. However, in this selected paragraph, it begs the question: why does Achilles’ aristeia never fully satisfy his menis? Homer chooses instead, for Achilles to keep parading Hektor’s body, and to host games to display his prowess, only for Priam’s visit to Achilles to finally end the tale of his anger. Within this paragraph though, the gods state themselves that Achilles’ path is not one of a typical hero. Achilles’ menis is because he has attempted to become a god, an immortal himself as a mortal, and in doing so, can only have his menis satiated by a touch of humanity. The entire epic stems from the consequences of Achilles attempting to act as an immortal as a mortal. The beginning opens with Achilles’ attempting to prove he’s greater than Agamemnon’s ruling. Because Agamemnon is the leader though, the only role higher than that that Achilles sees fit is that of a god. Part of this is a result of his hamartia, or fatal flaw being hubris, or excessive pride. Achilles refused to let Agamemnon be seen as a clear victor, and relented that “never now would he go to assemblies where men win glory, never more into battle … though he longed always for the clamor and fighting” (Homer 88, 490-493). However, this obsession with becoming a god eventually manifests itself so much so that by the end he is attempting to overcome an entire River God himself without understanding the very concept of mortality. He no longer wants to understand the concept of humanity, and that is his very own downfall. This epic follows the format of Aristotle’s tragedy. As stated in chapter six of his book, Poetics, “Tragedy … is an imitation of an action that is serious, completely, and of a certain magnitude … in the form of action, not of narrative.” In this definition, the “certain magnitude” he is referring to is always death, which can be seen in the Iliad as Patroclus’s. Additionally, Aristotle has also provided an order of plot actions, entitled the Main Action, Reversal and Recognition, and then Reversal Action. Here, the Main Action is the original, “good” intent of the main character. Within the Iliad, this would refer to Achilles’ original intent to surpass Agamennon’s rule to save his people from the famine and war. He even goes so far as to request his mother, Thetis, wish to Zeus that “ if perhaps he might be willing to help the Trojans, and pin the Achaians back against the ships and the water, dying, so … that Atreus’ son wide-ruling Agamemnon may recognize his madness, that he did no honor to the best of the Achaians'' (Homer 80, 408-412). However, this promise comes to turn against him in the form of Reversal and Recognition which is “a change by which the action veers round to its opposite” (Aristotle) and a change from ignorance to knowledge” (Aristotle) respectively. What’s important to note is that this change must be brought by the character’s own error of their hamartia. For Achilles’ — although brought by his intentions to become a god — specifically manifests itself during the height of battle between the Achaians and Trojans, when instead of going out himself, chooses to act as a god. Just as Athena sent out Diomedes in chapter give, he sends out Patroclus in his armor, his blessing, to exact his agenda. Not only does Zeus refuse “to let [Patroclus] come back safe out of the fighting” (Homer 358, 252), but Apollo is sent out to specifically disarm Achilles’ armor, which is nowhere near the power of a real god, before granting it to Hektor. What ultimately causes the recognition paired with the reversal of Patroclus’s death is that Achilles himself was what caused Patroclus to get killed. The very promise he made to his mother meant that by abandoning the Achaians, Zeus had no choice but to kill Patroclus to make Agamanenon recognize his madness. By sending out Patroclus and acting like a god, he disrupted the very fate imbalance and forced these consequences onto Patroclus with no ways to protect him. Therefore, once this rears round to the Reversal Action, Achilles’ menis is redirected towards the Trojans instead. He must return to gain back his armor, his godliness to avenge Patroclus. In doing so, he has lost all sense of humanity — “Achilles has destroyed pity, and there is not in him any shame; which does much harm to men but profits them all” (Homer 498, 44-45). Achilles believes that the only form of godly grief is anger and revenge, for only that will bring Patroclus back. Unfortunately, as seen from this excerpt, even the gods themselves are helpless to fix it. However, the reason why his aristeia, his revenge is not enough to satiate his menis is because this is not actually a full aristeia. Homer presents the first example of an aristeia as Diomedes’ flurry of violence on the battlefield in Chapter Five. Although it is clear that this was a display of a warrior’s excellence, what Achilles’ fails to understand is that this was only brought by a blessing from Athena — a fusion of god and mortal. In fact, this fusion is so powerful that it was even enough to overcome Ares himself, as “Diomedes of the great war cry drove forward with the broken spear; and Pallas Athena, leaning in on it, drove it into the depth of the belly where the war belt girt him” (Homer 169, 855-858). This has been seen time and time again with others’ aristeia, for only with this blessing does the hero have enough power to overcome all the soldiers. Achilles’ on the other hand, lacks a piece of this. It can be argued that Achilles is lacking a god’s blessing, but moreso Achilles is actually lacking humanity. Because Achilles has proceeded with the belief that he is equivalent to a god, that is all he is in this moment of aristeia. What makes it different though is that the gods have designed for humans to deal with grief through resilience, not by exacting revenge. Achilles, like it or not, is ultimately human. As stated by Priam in the final moments of the epic, “such is the way the gods spun life for unfortunate mortals, that we live in unhappiness, but the gods themselves have no sorrows” (Homer 511, 525-526). However, Achilles, because he believes he can be an immortal, does what gods do and unleashes this aristeia in hopes that it will bring Patroclus back. Instead of satiating his menis though, it only adds to it. What he really needs is human resilience and acceptance rather than utter rage. That is what’s missing from resolving his menis, and why it is Priam’s connection of father to killer, human to human that satisfies his grief. Achilles is not the hero of this story. Achilles is the tragedy of gods’ devastation manifesting into a human mind. From his beginning request to the gods, to that very result cultivating in the death of his most beloved, to his shattering truth that he has invoked this and does not have the power to return him, Achilles’ hamartia is the centerpiece of this tragedy. The selected excerpt illustrates the very aftermath of his aristeia and the gods’ reactions. However, when looking deeper into why this rage continues, Achilles is no longer even mortal. His menis is, and has surpassed even godly tidings, and just exacting revenge on Hektor is not enough. Homer shows that the catharsis from this tragedy is not from Achilles’ self-inflicted downfall. Instead, it is that the tale of men becoming god, and men’s hamartia, can only be soothed by humanity’s touch itself.