Heroism In The Iliad Essay

1122 words - 4 pages

In the Iliad there are many characters that could be considered heroic. But the two main characters that stand out as heroes to me are swift-footed Achilles and flashing-helmet Hector. Numerous times throughout the epic they display qualities and traits that are unsurpassed by anyone on their side. Many times throughout the epic Achilles and Hector are tested for their strength, and will to win in battle, which for both warriors always ends up positive because they always win their battles. Although both fighters are among the elite status in the armies, they each show human and god-like qualities that help them be as a fierce and feared as possible.
As soon as we are exposed to Achilles in battle, it is obvious why he is the hero of the Achaeans. He is very devoted, and even the heat of battle does not faze him, as he mows down rows and rows of his opponents. His devotion in battle is suitably shown when he is talking of battle:
“I have no taste for food- what I really crave is slaughter and blood and the choking groans of men” (Homer Book 19 line 255)
Although this quote is very gory, it shows his taste for fighting and how badly he wants to be great. When Achilles was young he was given the choice from his Mother, Thetis Goddess of the Sea, he could either be a great warrior, have a ton of glory, be remembered for ever but would have to die young, or Achilles could live a normal life, not be a great warrior, or be remembered, but he would live to a ripe old age. This is yet another example of Achilles heroicness because he decides to become a warrior, and help his country.
In battle Achilles knows his strength and because of that he is very cocky, and wants things done his way. In light of the fact that his mother is a goddess, Achilles is able to get most of the things he wants with her help. At first Thetis would refuse to help Achilles, but then would change her mind because Achilles is “doomed for a short life”.
“Would to god you could linger by your ships without a grief in the world, without a torment! Doomed to a short life, you have so little time.” (Homer book 1 line 496)
All of these facts add up to Achilles having a clear-cut advantage over the opposition. Another smaller reason for Achilles heroism is his sense of responsibility. A prime example of that is when Patroclus dies. He takes immediate responsibility for Patroclus’ death, and instantly vows to take revenge on Hector for it. When you put all these details together it adds up to the heroism of Achilles throughout the entire epic.
The other hero of The Iliad is Hector. He is still a major hero of the story but for much different reasons. Unlike Achilles he is not invincible or half-god. Hector is a hero because of his intangible characteristics that propel him to success. For his country, Hector represents qualities like honor, duty, and pride. Another reason for Hectors heroism is his devotion and loyalty to whatever cause he is fighting for. Unlike his brother...

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