Comparison and Contrast: Achilles and Hector
In Homer's epic poem, The Iliad, the subject is war. The Greek army has traveled to Troy to battle the Trojan army, resulting in a war that rages on for the better part of a ten year time span. The men of both armies fight not only for their prospective sides, but also for their own personal glory, which is consistent with the heroic warrior code of ancient Greece. Two of the main characters, Achilles and Hector, both continuously display a complexity of character that remains evident throughout the poem. Achilles fights for the Greek army and is considered the greatest of the Greek warriors, while Hector, who fights for the Trojan army, is not only a prince of Troy, but is also considered the greatest of the Trojan warriors. "Achilles is a man who comes to live by and for violence" (Lawall 115). When his pride is wounded by the Achaean commander, Agamemnon, he spitefully "withdraws from the fighting" only to be drawn back into it "by the death of his closest friend, Patroclus" (Lawall 115), who is killed by Hector in battle. Any compassion that Achilles might have once had is now gone, destroyed by grief and replaced with rage. As he returns to the fighting, "his attacks against the Trojans are unnecessarily brutal and pitiless," as he succumbs to a lust for vengeance (Borey). It is only after he has killed Hector and is faced with the grief stricken Priam, "clasping in supplication the terrible hands that have killed so many of his sons" (Lawall 115), that we begin to see the heart of Achilles begin to soften, as he returns Hector's body to his father for proper, honorable burial. For Hector, war "is a necessary evil" in which he "fights bravely, but reluctantly" (Lawall 115). In contrast to Achilles, he longs for peace, and although he realizes that peace is not likely to return to Troy, "he thinks nostalgically of the peaceful past" (Lawall 115). Hector possesses a gentleness that is apparent not only...
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