Achilles: The Tragic Hero In Homer's The Illiad

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A recurring theme that can be seen throughout Book XXII of Homer’s The Illiad is the blatant portrayal of the Greek hero Achilles as the superior force in the conflict. His opponent, the Trojan hero Hector, acknowledges this fact throughout the piece. Hector’s parents too recognize this fact, as they beg him not to fight Achilles for they believe he will lose his life in the conflict. Achilles, who is as smug as he is powerful, consistently displays confidence in his abilities and disdain for Hector as an opponent. Even the Olympian Gods, who observe the Trojan War as it unfolds, at one point observe that though Hector is a man beloved by heaven, he is being foolishly chased by a stronger warrior and his death was preordained. The most significant …show more content…
This idea, however, was also discarded when he concluded that Achilles was not merciful and would undoubtedly kill him while he was unarmed. It is at this point that he resolves to face Achilles, but not without proclaiming, “To die or triumph, that determine Heaven!” (Homer). It is at this point that Hector first openly displays an uncharacteristic lack of confidence in his own ability. He is the powerful and highly acclaimed hero of Troy, but rather than proclaim confidence in his upcoming victory, he is leaving the outcome of the battle for Heaven to decide. This resolve is short lived, however, as it is at this time that Achilles makes his appearance. Hector merely sees his intimidating form before he turns around and flees for his life. This is a major departure from one’s expectations. Hector, the powerful warrior who has likely felled countless enemies, who insisted upon facing Achilles even at the cost of breaking his parents’ hearts, and who had just resolved to face his foe no matter the outcome of the battle, did the most dishonorable act imaginable in such a situation. He turned his back on his enemy and fled. …show more content…
This shows that Hector really lost his nerve upon beholding his enemy. It shows that he was never brave in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, and that his sense of honor and valiance was merely a façade to hide cowardice and a hunger for easy glory. It is at this point that the façade completely fell apart. It is notable that he was only able to escape Achilles as long as he did because his body was being enhanced by the god Phoebus, and Hector may have realized this, which would have further weakened his bravery and resolve. Once his “brother” does appear to him and persuade him to fight, he faces Achilles and proclaims that he will

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