Top-Rated Free Essay

Difference between Ideas of Ancient Greeks and Americans

Topics: Achilles, Trojan War, Iliad, Greek mythology, Hector, Homer / Pages: 6 (1468 words) / Published: Apr 12th, 2013
There is a considerable difference between the ideas of the ancient Greeks and Americans now. The author of The Iliad, Homer, tells the readers a great story about two very different, yet very alike, types of heroes. The type of Heroism that is portrayed in The Iliad is extremely different from what the general American public would consider heroic today. The modernized version of The Iliad is the movie Troy, which talks about the same two main characters as The Iliad and gives them many of the same traits as the epic does, but slightly changes some of the circumstances in which they face and how they handle the situations they are put into. In the epic novel The Iliad, Greek heroism is based on how great of a warrior someone is. A man basically had to choose one of two options - to be a hero and die young, or to live for a long time yet never amount to anything spectacular. The idea that most American people have of heroism is that of a superhero, someone without any flaws that has the well-being of the general public in mind. Another heroic figure in American society is a solider. A similarity between an American hero and Greek hero is that soldiers fight for their country and their people, much like the Greek heroes portrayed in The Iliad did. The main character focus in The Iliad is Achilles. Achilles is the son of Thetis, an immortal sea-nymph, and Peleus, the king of the Myrmidons. Because he was the son of Thetis, he was a demigod, which meant that he had one parent who was a God and another parent who was human. Demigods were much stronger than regular humans but did not have as much power as a God. Achilles was the greatest warrior in the Greek army, but that did not make him a hero. Achilles had many character flaws. He was a cry-baby. Whenever something did not go his way, he would cry to his mother about it like she could fix all of his problems. Sometimes she would actually make an effort to fix them, but one would expect a heroic character to be able to fix his problems on his own. He was also very arrogant. He knew he was the best warrior and that the Greeks would need him to win, yet for most of the epic he refused to fight in the war. Because of his own ego, he thought that paying back Agamemnon for taking Briceus from him was more important than fighting for his country. Achilles claimed to be in love with Briceus, whom he had won as a war prize, but when Agamemnon offered to give her back untouched along with many other gifts, and Achilles still did not want to fight for him. This can almost be considered noble in some aspects, because Achilles stood his ground even when offered gifts that most warriors would have done anything for. It is only when his closest friend Patroclus is killed in battle by Hector that he decides to put his own egotistical views aside and help the Greeks win the Trojan war. Achilles was the one that influenced Patroclus to put on his armor and go trick the Trojans into thinking that Achilles was going to return to battle. After Patroclus is killed, the guilt Achilles feels for being the reason he ever even went out there drives him to seek revenge on Hector and the Trojans. The second main heroic character is Hector. Hector is the son of Priam, who is the King of Troy, and his wife Hecuba. He had at least 50 brothers and many sisters. He was the oldest of Priam’s sons. Hector was not a demigod like Achilles and he did not have any spectacular powers, but he was a great warrior. He was the leader of the Trojan army and he killed many Greeks during the Trojan War. Hector is a much more respectable person than Achilles in the sense that he wants to fight for his country, not just for himself. Achilles and Hector are alike in the sense that they are both great warriors, but they are very different in the way that they act. Achilles cares about nothing other than himself and making sure that his name lives on forever, while Hector cares about winning the battle for his family and country. In one battle, Hector kills Patroclus thinking it was Achilles, which really sets Achilles off and is the reason that Achilles rejoins the war. When the two warriors finally meet near the end of the Epic, Hector is confronted with the fact that he is indeed going to die. Hector tries to think of ways to get out of the battle with Achilles, like bribery. This shows that Hector is not the perfect hero like many people may have thought when they first read about him. One cannot forget that Hector is only human, and that he does have the same characteristics as us humans do now. Everyone has to face a fear that they do not necessarily want to from time to time, and courage is the trait that brings the true heroes to the forefront. After being chased by Achilles for a while, Hector finally realizes that he has to fight Achilles. The fact that Hector stands up for himself and his country proves that he is courageous and that he is indeed a hero. The characteristics of Achilles and Hector are a little bit different in the movie Troy when compared to The Iliad. Achilles is still the same cocky, egotistical, jerk as he was in the Epic, but his motive behind battling Hector is different from that of the book. Instead of Achilles being the one to tell Patroclus to put Achilles’ armor on and join the battle, Patroclus decides to do this on his own, without even consulting with Achilles first. When Achilles learns that Patroclus went to battle on his own dressed as Achilles and was killed by Hector, Achilles decides to fight for vengeance. Unlike the Epic, Hector feels a very large amount of remorse for killing Patroclus because he was so young. This might be made out this way because Americans are a lot nicer about things than the ancient Greeks were when The Iliad was written. When Achilles and Hector meet in the movie Troy, Hector shows courage from the very beginning. Achilles stands outside Troy’s walls yelling his name, challenging him. Instead of backing down and listening to his family who are telling him it is probably a better idea for him not to go, Hector bravely decides to face Achilles like a man. This bravery is the reason that Hector is a hero in Troy. Achilles shows heroism at this point too because he is fighting for his cousin Patroclus, not just because he wants the glory and for his name to live on forever. At the end of the movie, when the Achaeans go into the walls of Troy, Achilles does not even kill anyone. He has already done what he thought he needed to, and does not find it necessary to kill any other Greeks. That is a respectable decision, and having respect is another characteristic that a hero needs. Homer’s The Iliad has many other characters that have the traits of being a great hero as well. Odysseus is portrayed as one of the smartest warriors in the Achaean army. He believes in teamwork, but he also knows when enough is enough. Patroclus can easily be considered heroic because of the way he put himself out there in battle dressed as Achilles, when chances are he knew that his end was near. Hector’s father, Priam shows a great amount of the heroic characteristic: courage, in book 24 when he goes to the Achaean camp unarmed to ask for Hector’s body, which he receives. He shows that he respects Achilles by kissing his hand even though he killed his son. The Greek idea of heroism and the American idea of heroism are not really that different. They both focus on a basis of honor, loyalty, and courage. Anyone can be a hero at any given time. A person back then could become a warrior and fight for his country, and they would be a hero for their entire country. A person now can do a number of things to be considered a hero – from donating blood to saving a cat from the tree, which may just make them a hero to one person, but they would be a hero none the less. Heroism is about the person that goes the extra mile to help out, when they do not necessarily have to.

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Greek Culture: Differences Between Greek And American Cultures
  • Similarities And Differences In Ancient Greek Clothing
  • Ancient Greeks
  • Ancient Greek
  • The Ancient Greeks
  • Differences between Ancient Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt
  • Difference between Greek and Modern Theatres
  • the same and difference between rome and greek
  • The Greek Mythology Of Ancient Greeks
  • Ancient greek