Hektor and Penelope: Virtuous Characters

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Though different works, both the Iliad and the Odyssey of Homer each contain one outstanding character that excels in virtue. Even when forced to live with a dilemma that he or she did not cause, both Hektor, in the Iliad, and Penelope, in the Odyssey, remain virtuous. This becomes clear through their rigid fidelity to their spouses, their piety to the gods, and their resolute natures in the situations presented to them. The unfortunate circumstances in which both Hektor and Penelope find themselves not been caused by either of them by any means. Their problems are a result of the adulterous relationship of Paris and Helen, which has caused the Trojan War. Hektor is required to fight a war that he does not support, which he realizes and points out to be the fault of his brother, Paris: “Evil Paris,…/better had you never been born,…/Truly I could have wished it so; it would be far better than to have you with us to our shame,” “the Trojans are cowards in truth, else long before this you had worn a mantle of flying stones for the wrong you did us.” (Iliad Book Three lines 39-42, 56-57). Penelope is forced to endure life without her husband, Odysseus, and the burden of many suitors trying to seduce her, despite her unwillingness to remarry: “all these are my suitors against my will, and they wear my house out./Therefore, I pay no attention to strangers, nor to suppliants,/nor yet to heralds, who are in the public service, but always/I waste away at the inward heart, longing for Odysseus” (Odyssey Book XIX lines 133-136). Even when tempted by the seduction of others, both Hektor and Penelope remain loyal to their spouses, Andromanche and Odysseus, respectively. Helen attempts to seduce Hektor in order to keep him out of battle, however he unwaveringly turns her down: “Do not, Helen,/ make me sit with you, though you love me. You will not persuade me./…I am going first to my own house, so I can visit/…my own people, my beloved wife”. (Iliad Book Six lines...
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