Iliad: Achilles and Hector

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Reading the conclusion of The Iliad was very interesting. The poet focused more on action than on conversations, so it was easy for the reader to imagine the events as they happened. One of the things that mostly caught my attention is the difference between Achilles and Hector regarding their last fight and death. Both characters have opposite perspectives regarding honor and respect. Before their final battle, Hector says to Achilles, “We should swear a solemn oath. With all the gods as witnesses, I swear: If Zeus gives me the victory over you, I will not dishonor your corpse, only strip the armor and give the body back to the Greeks. Promise you’ll do the same.” This shows how Hector is a respectable and noble man. Achilles, on the other hand, strongly refuses the proposal and allows his ruthless pride to take over his mind.

After Hector falls in battle it is shocking to read how heartlessly Achilles treats Hector’s corpse. The respectable thing is to return the body to the city in order for them to give an honorable burial, but Achilles, filled with rage and pride, disallows the city from burying Hector. This shows a great lack of character. Although Achilles proves to be physically stronger than Hector, Hector has a better and stronger character.

It is rather surprising to read how in book twenty-four, Achilles somehow changes of character and decides to finally give Hector’s body back to Troy. This change makes the reader’s dislike towards Achilles diminish because Hector finally receives the burial that he deserves.
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