Gender Roles in the Illiad

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Gender Roles: Hector in The Iliad In Homer’s Illiad Hector, one of the primary leaders of Trojan forces and also a prince of the fated city of Troy fulfills the male gender expectations defined through prowess in war. However, male’s heroism is driven by the fear of shame and dishonor in war. Hector is an mortal character in Homer’s Iliad and all Hector seeks is war-glory, and he believes that one must die with a cause. He fears the indignity that he believes will come should he not fight nobly for his city of Troy but it is this way of thinking which steers Hector towards his eventual death. Paris, Hector’s brother actually was a counter example of the drive behind male heroism. In Book three of the Iliad Paris stepped out of the Trojan ranks, an obvious ‘pretty-boy’ challenging any Greek to fight against him. It was not until he saw Menelaus, the legendary king of Sparta, the husband of Helen who Paris abducted which started the Trojan War, did “Paris’ blood / Turn milky when he saw him coming on, / And he faded back into the Trojan troops” (Book 3 lines 36-37). Hector, contrary to his ‘pretty-boy’ brother did not believe in shame and dishonor in war and was extremely oppositional to Paris’ appearance and behavior and even said “I wish you had never been born, or had died unmarried./ Better that than this disgrace before the troops” (Book 3 lines 46-47). It was not until Paris challenged Menelaus to a battle until death, with the winner being able get Helen and all of her possessions that” Hector liked what he heard.” (Book 3 line 80) Even though this was not Paris’ natural persona, he seemed to be driven by the fear of shame and dishonor in war and that is what pleased Hector. Paris probably would have died in this battle, were it not for Aphrodite, who came to Paris' rescue and returned him to safety within the city of Troy. Hector’s fear of shame and dishonor in war was so strong, that he essentially hated any conduct that was opposite to it. Later on in


Cited: Homer. The Iliad. The Essestial Homer. Ed. Stanley Lombardo. Brooklyn, Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 200. 1-240

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