Heroism in the Illiad

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HERO OR ZERO?

In the Iliad, along with the glorification of war, there is a fixation on heroes. Heroes are warriors who are presented above the average foot soldier for a myriad of reasons. They not only act as leaders in battle, but as people to rally around. In the poem there are numerous heroes each with their own distinctive quality and purpose. Heroes all have an important thing in common; as they go, so go their soldiers.

The main heroes of the epic make their claim to fame in different ways. A common theme amongst heroes is their prowess in battle. Coinciding with the glorification of war, those who can fight at an above average level gain more respect and acquire hero status. Hector and Achilles are the two most highly regarded heroes in the Iliad and are the two best fighters on the battlefield. Whenever Hector does anything of significance whether its leading a charge or even entering the battlefield, we see the tide of battle turn on multiple occasions. Achilles has the same affect, because of Achilles' reputation as a fighter when soldiers believe he has entered the battle, as they did when Patroclus impersonated him, the Achaeans nearly overthrew Troy in one day. Achilles and Hector acquired their status threw their accomplishments on the battlefield and the glory that came along with it. Agamemnon leads one of the greatest armies ever assembled, he is considered a hero but as the book goes on it is more and more evident that his huge army is just compensation. Each hero has a reputation matched by few, but how they go about their heroics and their actions is what ultimately separates them.

Agamemnon is the king of the Achaeans, under a pact he has assembled an army of 50000 soldiers throughout the land. His claim to fame and glory originates from his wealth. Agamemnon rarely does the fighting himself, having others do the dirty work and taking much of the glory. In the Iliad, he is described as a fierce warrior, embodying the...
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