Of the many conflicting philosophies, morality, when referring to one's sense of ethics, is the greatest and most intriguing disparity between the Ancient Greek ideologies of heroism and the contemporary views of today. By the standards of the Greeks, Achilles was a Hero. He was the embodiment of the individual, a man of unwavering principle, not only unwilling but incapable of allowing his values to become compromised. His credo and the actions determined though it, while certainly irreconcilable with present ethical standards, are strongly rooted in his own idea of justice. Jason, the archetype of the tragic hero, used Medea for personal gain, and then discarded her, but in so doing, avenged his family and freed a kingdom from a tyrant. Heracles, despite having killed his children and wives, rose above the confines of mortality through heroic deeds, and excruciating pain, both physical and emotional, to transform into an immortal god. The Ancient Greeks did not differentiate between the Hero and the Anti-Hero, judging them not by their methods but by their justness.
The rivalry between Achilles and Hector demonstrates foremost, examples of these concepts. However, it is necessary to take into account the driving forces behind the heroes before judging their actions. The warrior ethic, and the influences that society and religion had on it, direct these two heroes to their confrontation. Faced with the inevitability of their deaths, both come to the conclusion that they must define themselves through battle, choosing eternal kleos over a long, yet insignificant life. ¨There you are mistaken: a man who is good for anything ought not to calculate the chance of living or dying; he ought only to consider whether in doing anything he is doing right or wrong—acting the part of a good man or of a bad¨ (Plato 16). The Iliad depicts Hector as a courageous, righteous man with such loyalty to his family and city that he faces certain death in battle in an attempt to preserve them contrasts Achilles's rash actions, hasty revenge, and increasingly disturbing delve into the inhumane. It is no wonder then that historians and psychology experts alike consider the events of their enmity a sociological treasure trove. If he had followed the laws of the Warrior Ethic, a set of guidelines for heroic behavior, he would not have desecrated his opponent's corpse. Hector also considers abandoning the Ethic, debating handing over his kingdom in exchange for his life:
With honourable justice to restore:
And add half Ilion's yet remaining store,
Which Troy shall, sworn, produce; that injured Greece
May share our wealth, and leave our walls in peace. (Iliad 22.163-167)
He soon decides he cannot dishonor himself in such a way.
No season now for calm familiar talk,
Like youths and maidens in an evening walk:
War is our business, but to whom is given
To die, or triumph, that, determine Heaven! (Iliad 22.170-174)
Hector’s personal feelings, which will not allow him to fight,...