Two Flawlessly Flawed Heroes (the Illiad)

Topics: Achilles, Trojan War, Iliad Pages: 4 (1734 words) Published: September 26, 2006
The Illiad, an epic poem written by Homer, is set during the very end of the long Trojan War. The war starts after Paris, a prince of Troy, steals Helen, the wife of an Achean named Menelaus. Menelaus' brother is Agamemnon, the leader of the Achean army and they go to war with the Trojans to win Helen back. The initial conflict in the story is when Achilles gets angry because Agamemnon takes his beautiful war prize, Briseis. Achilles commands a group of Myrmidon soldiers and is the best warrior on the Achean side, while Paris's brother Hector is the best warrior on the Trojan side. In The Illiad Hector and Achilles are portrayed as having very different personalities; however, they are both considered heroes. Homer needs both of the heroes in order to show the vast number of superior attributes that he believes a hero should possess, and he also gives them flaws to contrast and enhance their heroic qualities.

Homer depicts both Achilles and Hector as having many heroic qualities throughout the Illiad. Achilles has many of the stereotypical characteristics of a hero such as great skills as a warrior. Throughout the epic he is referred to as "the swift runner" and "breaker of men" showing that it is accepted by the other characters and the author that Achilles is a great, skilled, quick warrior (Homer 121,169). Also, Achilles is often seen as godlike since he is such a good, invincible warrior, and he really is more godlike than most other mortals because his mother is a sea nymph (Homer 123). Achilles is not only god-like but he is favored by the gods; for example, in the last battle between Hector and Achilles, Athena helps Achilles by tricking Hector into believing that she is helping him and Achilles ends up killing Hector (Homer 200). Furthermore, Achilles even has armor that is made by the gods. Another of Achilles' heroic qualities is that he is brave because he is not afraid to die; he continues fighting despite many reminders from his mother that he...
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