Oh that’s odd, that’s what I always thought Levi was doing. Convincing Erwin to save humanity. He needed Levi to tell him to do it because he couldn’t give up his dream by himself. That’s how I always saw it. I didn’t think it made sense for Levi telling him to do something that he already knew he was going to do, unless he was wavering and Levi just knew he needed someone to tell him what to do in that moment.
In that scene Levi even says I’m making the choice, so I never doubted it was Levi decision.
You’re welcome to read the scene as you like. I’m sure there are plenty of opinions out there. But speaking for myself, when I read the entirety of what Erwin said in chapter 80 and look at his posture and expression throughout, I’m certain he already knew what action he was going to take. The sacrifices of those who went before him would not allow anything else. Artistically Isayama chose to position them standing over Erwin, surrounding him. They fill the panels as he is crouched in the center. They were his primary focus, the overwhelming force in his mind.
“Everything I have done, I did thinking this day would come. That some day I would be able to check my answers.
There were so many times I thought it would be easier to die. But then the dream I shared with my father would flash through my head. And now, those answers are close enough to reach out and grab. They are right there.
But, Levi. Can you see them? All of our comrades? Our comrades are watching us. They want to know what we will do with the hearts we dedicated to our cause. Because they may be gone, but their fight isn’t over.
Erwin was about to die. He was about to lose everything. The plan he proposed would cost the lives of every soldier in the Corps. It was insanely risky and relied entirely on Levi.
Levi voiced the elephant in the room.
“I’ll make the choice. Give up your dream and die… and I’ll take down the beast titan.”
But Levi’s words were never about the choice; they were about the promise. Levi assured Erwin his life wasn’t meaningless, that he’d done well, and that his dream would live on without him.
Thanks for the ask.