Achilles And Hector In The Iliad

Superior Essays
When thinking of a hero, perhaps the fictional Wonder Woman or Superman comes to mind. Comic book superheroes that are completely selfless and endowed with super strength or magical powers. Or perhaps suffrage movement leaders like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Martin Luther King come to mind. Or maybe even a local firefighter, police officer, or actor. In this day and age, a hero is someone that is admired for great courage, someone who is selfless, a fighter of an outstanding cause, the list goes on. But heroes are human, they can’t be perfect, they make mistakes, they change, just like the qualifications of being a hero change over time. In ancient Greece, a hero was typically a great glorified warrior, like Achilles and Hector in the Iliad. …show more content…
Though he may be selfless in fighting for the Trojans, he is vengeful and disrespectful. Since Achilles’ selfishly decided to stop fighting for the Achaeans, his best friend Patroclus took his place. In Book Sixteen Achilles permits Patrolcus to wear his armor during battle because it would help raise morale, but it also made him a target. Hector kills Patroclus, believing him to be Achilles, and then steals his armor to get revenge on him for killing his wife’s family. This deed characterizes Hector as vengeful, because he is unable to forgive Achilles for wronging him and instead he steals his armor. The theft of the armor is extremely disrespectful and it is undignified for a soldier to be buried without armor because it brings them shame in the afterlife where they are doomed to stay in the underworld. Hector’s thirst for revenge drives him to become disrespectful. He may be a heroic soldier at times, but during others he is just like any other human, falling victim to primal flaws like rage and vengeance. The news of Hector’s mistreatment of Patrolcus’ body agers Achilles’ enough for him to return fighting for the Achaeans, so he can kill …show more content…
Hector was heroic and strong when he fought in previous battles, but against Achilles he demonstrates cowardice that could never be attributed to a hero. When Hector is approached by Achilles he becomes consumed by fear and runs three laps around the wall of Troy in hopes to delay the inevitable. Hector even attempts to reason with Achilles during battle and implores him to not treat his body in any “unseemly fashion,” (Homer, 434). This shows how cowardly Hector is, no heroic warrior runs away from their rival. But what is more pathetic is that Hector asks Achilles to respect his body after what he did to Patroclus. Achilles denies Hector’s request and after he kills him he treats his body obscenely. Achilles can be considered a hero when he defeats Hector because he is technically fighting on behalf of the Achaeans and his dead comrade Patroclus, but that aspect becomes trivial after he pierces rope through Hector’s ankles and ties him to the back of his Chariot and drags it around the walls of Troy. He later takes the corpse back to his army where he invites all of the men to take turns stabbing it. This shows how vengeful Achilles is, because everything he does to Hector is to pay back for Patrolcus’ death. It also characterizes Achilles as savage and ruthless because he has no mercy for Hector’s body and essentially mutilates it. Both Achilles and Hector demonstrate

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