Because we are a competitive and always changing race, we do whatever is needed in order to have honor or gain advantage over our competition. During the time period of the Iliad getting help from gods or an outside image to get an advantage over your competition was seen as an honorable prize that you earned using your excellence and strength. What if in today's sports we got powers or "honor" from gods that would give us the advantage over competition in whatever sport we played? We would be looked at as a cheater who did not have the ability to succeed on our own and had to get help from an outside force to gain an advantage. In the Iliad Arête is special excellence, honor or power to succeed action that can be earned from the gods when you display goodness, virtue, and strength unlike in todays' sports where you have to work hard in order to receive such a prize. .
Arête is a term of excellence or honor that was given to special warriors or heroes when they achieved a heroic feat or performed a type of duty that requires great skill and bravery that only a few gifted people possess. Arête is one of many central themes in this book because most of the warriors such as, Achilles, Ajax, Agamemnon, Patroclus, etc., are striving to gain arête during the Trojan War by showing the gods that they can be honorable and contain more excellence than any of the other soldiers. In the Iliad Achilles is one of the major characters that express arête and his need for honor and virtue throughout the entire epic. For example Achilles gets upset when Agamemnon takes Achilles' war prize, Briseis, after Agamemnon was forced to give back his own prize, Chrysies. Agamemnon was forced to return Chrysies because of a plague that Apollo sent against the Greeks for refusing to allow Chrysies to be ransomed to her father, so he decided to take Briseis away from Achilles. Achilles' does all the work just to have Agamemnon take his prize away from him.