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Homer's Heroes Essay

1078 words - 5 pages

Homer’s Heroes
The epic poem called The Iliad written by Homer concerns the Trojan War. It shows Trojan and Achaean warriors’ courage, bravery and their attempt to become the best fighter to get fame, glory, and honor. The heroes in The Iliad follow Homer’s heroic code, striving for excellence. Hector and Achilles’ strength comes from their desire for fame, glory, honor and their acceptance of fate. These qualities are considered to be characteristics of Homer’s heroic code. However, the actions of Paris are not heroic causing trouble and conflict for many people. In fact, Paris’ non-heroic action started the Trojan War and the hatred between Greece and Troy.
A strong character in The Iliad, Hector, is a hero due to the actions and decisions he takes in the poem. Hector dies defending his country which is already heroic, but, the most heroic action of Hector is that he fights knowing that Troy is not going to survive. Which indicates that he will die soon and accepting his own fate. Also showing his motivation for glory and honor.
“But I should die of shame before Trojan men and noblewomen if like a coward I avoided battle...Long ago I learned how to be brave, how to go forward always and to contend for honour, Father’s and mine. Honour- for in my heart and soul I know a day will come when ancient Ilium will perish.” (J 155-62)
With this in mind, he attacks the Greeks hoping his loved ones are safe. Although his motivation makes him even stronger, Hector is already physically strong and Paris’ words describe the strength of Hector best. “your spirit’s like an axe-edge whetted sharp/ that goes through timber, when a good shipwright/ hews out a beam: the tool triples his power.” He describes how Hector is mentally and physically overflowing with power. Hector’s mental strength helps him go against Achilles. “Who know, Achilles...might be killed by me.” (M 94-95)
Another strong character in The Iliad is Achilles. His passion for glory and fame is very strong since he prefers to die in battle than stay at his home in peace. Although his mother Thetis, tries persuading him, he decides he wants to have fame and glory more than anything else.
“Thetis...tells me of two possible destinies...two ways: if on one hand I remain to fight around Troy town, I lose all hope of home but gain unfading glory; on the other, if I sail back to my own land my glory fails- but a long life lies ahead of me.” (K 47-54)
The proper burial which Achilles does for all his victims in the war is a heroic action. Since burial is a very important thing for both Achaeans and Trojans, the families of the dead ones were able to appreciate Achilles’ respect for the dead people. Andromache says of Achilles attack on her father:
“He killed him, but, reverent at least in this, did not spoil him. Body, gear, and weapon forged so handsomely, he burned, and heaped a barrow over the ashes. Elms were planted round by mountain-nymphs of him who bears the storm-cloud.” (J 127-33)...

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