My ¶s are about this one speech from Book 1 of the Iliad.
Unintentionally Ironic: Agamemnon’s Bombast in Iliad Book 1[a]
After Calchas delivers his prophecy, Agamemnon’s response shows Agamemnon to be just what he always is, rude, self-centered, thin-skinned, and thoroughly reprehensible[b]. The first words[c] out of Agamemnon’s mouth confirm his rudeness[d]: “‘You damn soothsayer!” he spits[e] at Calchas (line 112). The curse is self-evidently rude, of course, but it’s[f] also unnecessary and, worse, unprompted[g]. Calchas has spoken for the gods, not himself, and has no ax to grind against Agamemnon. Calchas has dutifully served up the truth as the gods reveal it to him, making him anything but a “soothsayer,”[h] a cheap gibe demonstrating Agamemnon’s bitter, defensive tone[i]. Agamemnon’s outburst is, therefore, out of keeping with a prophet’s function, disrespectful to Calchas and the gods, showing Agamemnon[j] to be terribly impolite and worse impious[k]. The defensive tone of his speech unmasks his egotism[l].
But Agamemnon’s just warming up. [m]He then accuses Calchas of taking “perverse pleasure in prophesying/ Doom” (114-15). Again[n], Calchas has done nothing to warrant this accusation. In fact,[o] he’s tried to soften the truth as much as he can, knowing Agamemnon as he does and, thus, anticipating his angry reaction. Why else would Calchas have asked for protection from Achilles as a condition of revealing his knowledge? More condemning, however, is the confusion in Agamemnon’s mind the word doom implies[p]. Agamemnon conveniently but wrongly sees his choices,[q] actions and their consequences as the products of doom or fate when in fact they’re completely his own doing. No one but Agamemnon decides to mistreat Chryses; and therefore, no one but Agamemnon is responsible for Apollo’s assault.
Given that responsibility[r], one might expect Agamemnon to rethink or even, perhaps, apologize. True to form, Agamemnon does nothing of the kind. Reflect? Accommodate? [s]Not Agamemnon. He launches several lines of invective[t] at Calchas, not one of which directly responds to the prophecy, admits wrong, or takes responsibility[u]: “Not [v]a single favorable omen ever!/ Nothing good ever happens!” he complains (115-16). Agamemnon has never acted nobly, but his actions here further develop his self-centeredness[w]. Has Agamemnon even heard the prophecy? Apparently not. Far from accepting the truth and its consequences—consequences he and he alone is responsible for—[x]Agamemnon demonstrates a recalcitrant, defensive, and ultimately childish concern only with his own personal situation and the possible disfavor with which others will view his actions. He might ultimately agree to give up his prize, but Agamemnon insults Calchas, derides the gods’ power—calling Apollo “[Calchas’] great ballistic god” as if Calchas controlled him—and ratchets up his own care for Chryseis in an attempt to make his sacrifice the more “selfless” before he does. What would be humorous if it weren’t so pathetic, however, is that despite his rudeness and logical wiggling, Agamemnon intends his speech to demonstrate his power to the assembly. Deliciously[y], then[z], despite Agamemnon’s intentions, the vanity of the speech and its irony serve only to show him for the egomaniacal pipsqueak he really is.[aa]
[a]Direct, specific title, a little stuffy, perhaps, but clear.
[b]Direct ts, reflecting analytical reading.
Reprehensible is the strongest claim.
[c]Analyzing lna, doing close reading.
[d]Repeating key term to build coherence.
[e]Carefully chosen verb to complement my reading.
[f]My language is relaxed and conversational, so the contraction's fine; but notice that my sentences are anything but loose and sloppy.
[g]Addresses my reprehensible claim.
[h]Sentences develops my reprehensible claim: Agamemnon misunderstands Calchas' role, hence he rails against the gods, not Calchas.
[i]Term. Important that you identify and analyze terms. Doing that shows your reading skill and your knowledge.
[j]Linking lna to "larger meaning."
[k]Making him reprehensible.
Possibly a ts for a ¶ that analyzes his egotism and its thematic function.
[m]Originally, I wrote one ¶ only to break it into several since it was getting pretty long. This sent. isn't a ts so much as a clear, effective trans. between ¶s, showing my mastery of essay form, coherence, etc. The sentence begins the next ¶ with spark, energy.
And note that I try to write in a voice that's mine, with verve, I hope. Anything but faceless.
[n]Building coherence in my essay by referencing my prior analysis.
[o]Notice how often I use small trans. expressions to clarify the logical links between sentences. Builds coherence.
[p]Thematic analysis linked to word. Notice that I develop this point in the next sentence.
[q]What the words show me.
[r]Typical trans. sent. repeating an element from the prior ¶ to clarify the link between them. Textbook.
[s]Asking questions can get really tiresome. So if you ask them, answer them, just as I do in the next sent.
[t]I've identified the type of word, using a term.
[u]Again, linking type of language to thematic insight, all linked to my overall claim about Agamemnon.
[v]Notice how smoothly and coherently I integrate the quote. Reader knows why and how I'm using it.
[w]My analytical point. Notice how closely linked it is to the ts. I'm still developing my main claim.
[x]Dashes to emphasize this point. Shows my mastery of writing sophisticated sentences and my ability to think in "sophisticated," complex ways, or so school masters think. Mastery of language, they call it.
[y]I don't know about this word.
[z]Signalling the close of the essay.
[aa]Clincher sent. that puts Agamemnon in the light my ¶s have placed him. Brings the essay to a thesis-related close—and gives the essay a sense of closure and ending.
I hope you see that my essay uses textbook devices—the stuff of writing 101, just as every other ¶ in the world does, and just as yours should too. Those techniques are how you write ¶s. Period.