In the Iliad, both Hector and Achilles display heroic characteristics that go along with the heroic warrior code of Greece. Both characters have their strengths and weaknesses and differences in their approach to being heroic. Even with their differences, they have many similarities. Hector is a great leader and family man and a protector of his people. Achilles is a self-centered warrior who is only in it for the glory. Hector commands the Trojan army, while Achilles commands the Greek army. They both have pride and glory and are seen as heroes in the eyes of their sides’ people. Having a passion for revenge might be considered a glaring flaw in today’s standards, but it definitely conforms to the heroic code of Greek society. Hector has mixed feelings about taking part in the war. His wife pleads with him not to go, and he does not want to make her a widow, leaving her “at the loom of another man”. Hector shows heroism for going to war, but at the same time shows his human side by being indecisive about leaving his family. In Book Twenty-Two, Hector stays outside the ramparts, whereas his supporters are secure. His father Priam, wants him to retreat to safety with Achilles approaching, but his pride and honor prevent him from backing down. His fearlessness is an extremely heroic action. He then flees, which is very unheroic. It seems apparent that there is an inner conflict with emotions and the heroic code. Hector eventually stands his ground and fights. Achilles kills Hector in a very cruel way. Before desecrating Hector’s body, he allows him to die a slow and painful death. His action is another way his behavior conforms to the Greek heroic code. Even the most valiant soldier must have a human side, which definitely must object to the savage killing that is inevitable in war. On the other hand, when Achilles and his soldiers get some type of pleasure from repeatedly stabbing Hector’s lifeless corpse, another kind of human emotion is being displayed. This...
Cited: Homer. "The Illiad." Lombardo, translated by Stanley. The Norton Anthology of Western Literature. Ed. Sarah Lawall. 8th Edition. New York: W W Norton & Company, 2006. 107-205.
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