Hector In The Iliad Essay

Hector Vs. Achilles In The Iliad

A HeroIn the Iliad, many of the male characters display heroic characteristics, consistentwith the heroic warrior code of ancient Greece. Heroes try to win glory in battle, yet areoften characterized as having a distinctly human side. They each have certain strengths andweaknesses, which are shown throughout the conflicts described in the Iliad. According toHomer, a hero is one who is willing to risk his or her life for what they know to be good,true, and beautiful. The first examples of such characters are Achilles and Hector. Thesetwo characters have obvious differences in their approaches to fitting the heroic characterto what they separately believe. However, despite their differences and the fact that theyare fighting for opposing armies and meet each other with hatred in battle, they also havenumerous similar traits which eventual lend themselves to a comparison between thegreater hero. They both display behavior that could be described as heroism. Howeverthroughout the Iliad, one could see how Hector, going through the same hardships asAchilles, determined to stay firm and press on with his army even if this meant sacrificinghis life.

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, a hero is a man that is recognizedby his achievements and qualities. Achilles and Hector were both great men with virtuewhom no soldier in battle could ever stand a chance against. Even though both of theseheroes strived to gain as much honor as they could, one either used it for their cities gloryor for themselves. Later, in Book XXI, Achilles shows everyone the Achaeans’ battleprowess when he went to the river and killed Trojan soldiers one by one becauseof rage (XXI 493-495). Hector, on the other hand, was a man who wanted the best for hispeople even if it meant to leave family behind and fight against the greatest enemy (VI155). He did not want to be considered as a coward by backing away from war likeAchilles and let his men die by the hand of there enemies. Since Achilles wanted to keepaway from the war and save his own life, he did not care about another soldier’s life untilthe death of his own friend. This does not prove to is people that Achilles took the risk tofight with the rest of his men like Hector did even if it meant eventually dying.

Homer intertwines the heroic code throughout the Iliad showing what a true herois. During the Achaean time period, a hero was likely thought of war heroes or a nobleking. The Achaeans along with the Trojans believed that if individual wanted to become ahero, one had to win on the battlefield. One of the most popular ways to achieve this is theone-on one duels, also known as an aristera. Both Achilles and Hector were great...

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Essay on Hector as the Ideal Homeric Man of Homer's Iliad

1358 Words6 Pages

Hector as the Ideal Homeric Man of Homer's Iliad

Homer's Iliad enthralls readers with its’ valiant heroes who fight for the glory of Greece. The Iliad, however, is not just a story of war; it is also a story of individuals. Through the characters' words and actions, Homer paints portraits of petulant Achilles and vain Agamemnon, doomed Paris and Helen, loyal Patroclus, tragic Priam, versatile Odysseus, and the whole cast of Gods. Ironically, the most complete character in the epic is Hector, enemy hero, and Prince of Troy. Hector is in many ways the ideal Homeric man: he is a man of compassion and piety, a man of integrity and bravery, a man who loves his family, and above all, a man who understands and fulfills his social…show more content…

Had Agamemnon demonstrated the same sort of compassion towards the supplicant Chryses, the Greeks would have been spared the wrath of Apollo. Hector's compassion and his respect for the gods, engenders the trust and respect of his people, and makes him an ideal leader.

Hector continues on to the palace, where he is embraced by his mother Hecuba, who offers him wine with which to refresh himself and to honor the Gods. Hector politely answers, "Mother, not now-I'd lose my nerve for war. And I'd be ashamed to pour a glistening cup to Zeus with unwashed hands. I'm splattered with blood and filth-how could I pray to the lord of storm and lightning?" (VI, 179-183). He then recommends that his mother "go with offerings to Athena's shrine" to make sacrifices for the success of the Trojans. Hector's respectful address to his mother, his humility before the Gods and his understanding of the appropriate forms of supplication, stand in sharp contrast to Achilles' earlier whining and self-serving demands made to Thetis. Once again, in the matter of piety as well as compassion, Hector is the superior man.

Nowhere in the Iliad is Hector's superiority more obvious than when he is contrasted with his brother Paris, the man who bears the sole responsibility for the chaos and terror that engulfs Troy. Hector finds Paris "polishing (and) fondling his splendid battle-gear, his shield and breastplate, turning over and over his long curved bow" (VI, 243-245).

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