The Iliad

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Throughout The Iliad, the heroic characters make decisions based on a definite set of principles, which are referred to as the "code of honor." The heroic code that Homer presents to the reader is an underlying cause for many of the events that take place, but many of the characters have different perceptions of how highly the code should be regarded.

Hektor, the greatest of the Trojan warriors, begins the poem as the model of a Homeric hero. His dedication and strict belief in the code of honor is illustrated many times throughout the course of The Iliad. An example of this is presented in book three of the poem, where Hektor reprimands Paris for refusing to fight. He says to Paris, "Surely now the flowing-haired Achains laugh at us, thinking you are our bravest champion, only because your looks are handsome, but there is no strength in your heart, or courage" (3:43). Hektor believes that it is against the heroic code for a person to abstain from fighting when his fellow men are in the battlefield. Hektor faces a moral dilemma when dealing with Paris. By being Paris' brother, Hektor is supposed to protect and honor his decisions, but he believes that Paris is wrong in his actions, and feels it necessary to make that known to him.

Another place where we see Hektor's strict belief in the code of honor is in the events that take place during his return home in the sixth book. Hector returns to Troy in order to have the queen and the other women make a sacrifice to Athena, hoping that she will help the Trojans in the war. After arranging that act he visits Paris, with the intention of convincing him to fight. Visibly upset, Hektor scolds Paris, telling him that "The people are dying around the city and around the steep wall as they fight hard; it is for you that this war with its clamour has flared up about our city. You yourself would fight with another whom you saw anywhere hanging back from the hateful encounter," (6:327). Paris agrees that he has been...
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