Hector: The True Hero In Homer's The Iliad

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The image of heroes has changed numerous times throughout history. The epic hero became popularized by epic poems in which an individual embarked on treacherous quests and illustrated desirable traits through their actions. Recently, the modern hero has gained acceptance. This hero displays courage, selflessness, and does the right thing without need for praise or compensation. In The Iliad by Homer, many heroes arise on the battlefield due to their gallant acts on both sides. However, Hector, the pride and honor of Priam’s city of Troy, is the hero of this poem. According to Bernard Knox’s interpretation of a hero, Hector is the true hero because he is daringly courageous, solely devoted to his family and people, and selfless to others around him. Hector’s courage is seen through valiant actions and confident decisions in battle, while Achilles never clearly shows true bravery on the battlefield. It is evident Hector possesses fearlessness as Achilles closes in on Hector near the walls of Troy, and Hector thinks to himself,
“Better to lock up in mortal combat / As soon as possible and see to whom / God on Olympus grants the victory” (XXII, 146-148).

Knowing that Achilles is the finest Greek fighter and holds no mercy for his
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Hector voices his sole purpose to protect his people at all costs when speaking with Andromache and explaining that

“[his] shame before the Trojans and their wives, /With their long robes trailing, would be too terrible/ If I hung back from the battle like a coward” (VI, 464-466).

He cannot stand the view of his people in chains, which is why he fights so arduously against the Greeks. He perseveres throughout the war, although he knows his people are doomed. After hearing Andromache’s plea to stay within Troy, Hector demonstrates his utter and complete dedication to his family and

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