The Fate Of Hector And Achilles In Homer's The Iliad

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Homer’s captivating epic, The Iliad, invites readers to compare the protagonist, Achilles, and his foil, Hector, during the span of only a couple bloody weeks of the lengthy Trojan War. Thousands of men sacrifice their lives at the cost of one Trojan’s selfish act of stealing Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world, from the Greeks. Homer presents the recurring motif that the will of Zeus prevails regardless of man’s attempts to escape. The weight of the Greek hero and the Trojan leader’s fate lies on the scale of the thundering god of Olympus. Zeus orchestrates the actions of the characters Achilles and Hector in all aspects of their lives.
The immortal Zeus controls the military careers of Hector and Achilles. In battle, men recognize
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Hector strives to be courageous, in opposition to Achilles, who strives to have glory. As Hector leaves his wife knowing he will not return, he shows great courage saying, “but I could not show my face before the men or the women of Troy if I skulk like a coward out of the way” as he marches to his death (82). Homer sings that Achilles does not hunger for food, but instead hungers for glory, for when Patroclos fights in Achilles’ armor, Achilles’ tells Patroclos, “you may win honour and glory for me” (189). Even the courage in Hector, “Zeus increases in men or diminishes, according to his will, for he is lord of all”(240). Regardless of what strive the heroes, Hector and Achilles’ temper controls their actions and hardens their hearts. When Paris, the cause of the war, tells Hector “your heart is as hard as steal” after Hector rebukes him, it reveals an aspect of the character, unseen at first sight (40). Not only does one man condemn Achilles of anger, but many do, like when Phoinix yells, “tame that awful temper! You must not let your heart be hard” when Achilles refuses to join the war (111). Ultimately the anger and hard-heartedness of Hector and Achilles comes from the Cloud-gather for “Zeus put that temper into his heart” (199). The king of the gods and the other immortals decide who will win their favor by man’s sacrifice and reference to them. Zeus expresses his love for Hector when he tells his wife “Hector was a prime favourite with the gods more than any man in Troy… for he never failed in his friendly offerings”, but only because of those offering do the gods love him (283). Based on the fact that Achilles “always [has] some god to protect him”, signifies he gives reference to the gods (238). In the end the decisions Zeus and the gods make, to glorify or

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