The Theme of Honor in The Iliad
Homer illustrates the theme of honor throughout many instances in “The Iliad”. “The Iliad” is about the characters and events surrounding the Trojan War. In the war the Greek soldiers fought against the Trojan soldiers. The Greeks were retaliating against the Trojan prince Paris who stole the Greek king Menelaus’ wife Helen. Agamemnon the brave and supercilious brother of Menelaus is a prominent Greek leader in the war. Agamemnon demonstrates the theme of honor through his desire for most booty and the finest spoils gained in the war. Hektor is also a brave warrior, however; he is a Trojan Prince, the son of King Priam. Unlike Agamemnon, Hektor’s ambitions are not to seek honor through war plunder, but to remain an honorable and noble warrior and husband. Lastly, there is Achilles, a Greek warrior who also seeks to achieve honor from attaining booty and leadership. Each of these characters depicts the theme of honor in “the Iliad” in a distinct way.
Agamemnon demonstrates his thirst for honor when he plunders an enemy city and takes a girl named Chrysies as part of his loot. His relentless need for honor is shown once again when the father of Chrysies, a priest named Chryses humbly begs, pleads, and offers compensation to Agamemnon in return for his daughter. Yet, not willing to give up his prize Agamemnon blatantly refuses Chryses and offends him as well. Chryses prays to Apollo to bring punishment on Agamemnon and for 9 days many cattle and Greek people died as a result. Agamemnon only decides to give Chrysies back when he fears his honor will be lost if he does not help his people. Hektor is completely unlike Agamemnon because he is more concerned with acting virtuously for the good of his people, rather than only to gain honor. Hektor acts a foil to both Agamemnon and Achilles, because he is compassionate and loyal while they are selfish and stubborn. Hektor proves how truly honorable he is right before battle when his...
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