Hector vs. Achilles A Contrast and Comparison Essay

Topics: Iliad, Achilles, Odyssey Pages: 3 (739 words) Published: December 1, 2004
'Don't offer me mellow wine, mother, not now-you'd sap my limbs, I'd lose my nerve for war.' (VI, 179-180)

Like all the other men of their time and culture, both Hector and Achilles knew that their most important duty was to fight wars. In the Iliad, by Homer, war was of the utmost importance, and the Greeks felt that dying in battle was the noblest way to die. Outside of war, men made their own decisions as to what else would be important in their lives. Hector valued his family, was able to control his emotions, and respected the gods. Achilles was almost the exact opposite.

"Don't ask me to sit beside you here, Helen. Love me as you do, you can't persuade me now." (VI, 294-295) By turning down Helen's pass, Hector showed his loyalty to his wife and family. In a culture where having a sexual relationship was more natural and accepted than having a relationship based on love and respect, Hector showed how strong he was by rejecting the most beautiful woman in the world. "So all can reap the benefits of their kings-so even mighty Atride can see how mad he was to disgrace Achilles, the best of the Acheans!" (I, 488-490) As Achilles tells his mother what he wants, he showed what he truly valued outside of war, himself. It was not about what would be best for his mother or for anyone else, it was about Achilles and his wanting revenge.

Throughout the epic, Achilles allows his emotions to persuade his decisions. "No more now-back I got to Phthia. Better that way by far, to journey home in the beaked ships of war. I have no mind to linger here disgraced, brimming your cup and piling up your plunder." (I, 198-202) Achilles anger caused him to withdrawal his troops. Achilles pride and pettiness made him make rash decisions. Hector tended to handle his anger in more subdued and mature ways. "Look, your people dying around the city, the steep walls, dying in arms-and all for you." (VI, 251-253) Hector was furious with Paris and the war. He knew that despite...
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