The Illiad and Its Heroes

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The Iliad, Its Characters and the Code of Honor

Within the ancient text of The Iliad, heroes define and mold their character through decisions based on a set of principles, which are referred to as the “Code of Honor.” The heroic code which Homer presents to the reader is an underlying cause for many of the events which occur, but many of the characters differ on their perceptions and the gravity of the code. Achilles actions often find him going “against the grain” of the code of honor. His actions lie in stark contrast with those of Hector, a true hero and my hero, who strives to follow and live the code of honor, despite its consequences. Hector, the greatest of the Trojan warriors, begins the poem as the model of a Homeric hero and living the code of honor. His dedication and strict belief in the code of honor is illustrated many times throughout the course of The Iliad. An instance in which we see Hector’s strict belief in the code of honor takes 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 she will assist the Trojans in the war. After arranging this act he visits Paris, with the intention of convincing him to fight. Visibly upset, Hector scolds Paris, telling him, “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 clamor has flared up about our city. You yourself would fight with another whom you saw anywhere hanging back from the hateful encounter,” (VI. 327). Paris agrees that he has dishonored himself, and tells Hector he will return with him to fight. Hector then searches for Andromache, who is standing by the walls outlining the battlefield with Astanax, their son. When Andromache pleads with Hector to stay home and cease fighting, Hector refuses, telling her that he would be ashamed in front of the Trojans if he were to withdraw himself from the war. Hector then tells...
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