Hector And Achilles: The Expectable Hero Of Homer's The Iliad

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Hector and Achilles are demonstrations of how destructive war is on a personal level, and neither is an adequate hero of The Iliad. Although both figures have their moments acting as protagonist and antagonist of this epic poem, neither Hector nor Achilles finish their story with a satisfactory conclusion, leaving the audience questioning the legitimacy of their character. From the beginning of The Iliad, Achilles is seen only as a man with a grudge who refuses to help his fellow men, even when their lives depend on his actions. In fact, he only agrees to help when he himself is endangered, and only actually acts when his best friend is murdered in combat—due to Achilles’ inaction. Other than these few negative depictions, the Iliad does not …show more content…
Although he is on the enemy side, from Homer’s perspective, Hector is portrayed as one of the book’s most sympathetic characters, and Homer even provides a glimpse into his private life as he introduces Hector’s wife and son to the story. Unfortunately, Hector transforms into an ugly, bullheaded man with no regard for his comrades. This flaw is, in fact, what condemns his home, his soldiers, and his family.
This absence of a proper hero from The Iliad demonstrates Homer’s plausible view of war: that there are no heroes, only good men who make bad choices, and bad men who make worse ones. Interestingly, it is commonly accepted that Achilles is the hero of this poem and, in some ways, this may be true. The Greek perspective, in particular, would consider Achilles the great hero that brought victory for the Achaeans and the downfall for their enemy, the Trojans. Unfortunately for the Greeks, Achilles never displays proper heroic traits for properly heroic
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While this is arguably a reaction to grief over the death of Patroclus, it is a dishonorable outburst of emotion, unbefitting a hero. Some of the most repeatedly discussed characteristics of a proper hero include self-control, honorable, and wise; in the Iliad, though, Achilles displays none of these traits consistently. Hector, the most notable foil to Achilles, is not significantly better or worse as far as heroic qualities go. His worst offense to the title of hero is his complete disregard of advice or wise counsel. Rash and emotionally-driven, the decisions Hector makes end up costing his army the war. Anger flaring and arrogance brimming, Hector’s choices on the battlefield are a poor reflection of the man the audience is lead to believe he can be in the glimpses Homer provides of his home life. Although he performs better than Achilles when pressured to defend his people, his reckless behavior is detrimental to the potential success the people of Troy may have enjoyed and the city is burned shortly after Hector’s death. What is most disappointing about Hector is his complete failure in light of the family picture Homer paints him in. Seeing his wife and son interact with him makes his death even more tragic, but

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