Hector As The True Hero Of Homer’s Iliad

2416 words - 10 pages

Hector is the True Hero of Iliad

 
     In today's society, a man's mind is his most important tool. In the past, however, a man's courage and strength is all that he had to keep him alive. In Homer's Iliad, courage is valued over honesty and even faithfulness to one's wife. If a hero is the most courageous man in the bunch, then Hector is more heroic than Achilles and King of the Myrmidons. Hector is the true hero of Homer's Iliad.

Although Achilles and Hector are both leaders of men, Hector leads with a mature sense that gives his men reason to respect him. In turn, Hector respects his men which gives fulfillment to both parties. Hector is not a man to sit around and mull over strategies and ideas - Hector is a man of action. His men are inspired to fight because they see their captain fighting as well. Hector fights for belief and respect while Achilles fights out of rage and rashness. Achilles is not respected by his men, rather he is feared. Nobody wants to receive the blunt of the attack when Achilles randomly flies into a rage, therefore his men are terrified of him and allow him to do as he pleases.

Within the first book of the poem, we read that Achilles is considered by many to be "god-like". (King Agamemnon, Book 1, line 154) When someone says "god-like", the mind of the modern day reader may conjure up a picture of an individual who is close to perfection: all-seeing, all-knowing, fair, just, kind, and powerful. At first glance, "god-like" makes sense, because Achilles is descended from the immortals. As the book progresses, Achilles seems to drift as far away from the definition of "god-like" (as a beneficent being) as one can get. However, after considering the behavior of the gods/goddesses in Homeric times, I've come to the conclusion that maybe "god-like" really is the correct description of Achilles. His ability to kill effortlessly and watch people die without mercy is in keeping with many of Olympus' inhabitants. His fickle disposition is very "god-like" as well. The introduction to the Fagles translation describes a god as someone who is completely wrapped up in their own power, who sees other's natures as obstacles to be overcome, and someone who is unable to question or criticize themselves. This is Achilles in a nutshell.

Killing seems associated with being similar to a god. Hector is referred to as "godlike" only when he is triumphing over the corpse of a fallen Greek soldier. I found it interesting that the gods assist both Achilles and Hector in their respective battles. I would think that the gods would help Hector more, because he was a just man, but Hector is handed victory by Zeus only for a short time, while Achilles always appears to have divine intervention. This seems unfair, as Hector is the more "godfearing" of the two. He has more respect for the gods/goddesses, as we see when he returns to Troy and his mother suggests that he offer wine to Zeus: "... I'd be ashamed to pour a glistening...

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