The Iliad of Homer
Honor is something men and women have fought for century after century. Even now, thousands of American and British men are fighting in Iraq, near to where the Trojan War was to have taken place. These men fight for the greater good. They fight for those in Iraq who are unable to fight for or otherwise defend themselves. They fight for honor. The characters in the Iliad are motivated by their own form of honor, or arete, known similarly as the Homeric Code. And it is because of this code that the Trojan War began. The characters in this story are shown to possess arete, but some have different ideas as to how vastly and to what rate it should be respected. And because of this, many a man’s honor is disturbed.
The Homeric Code can be defined as “unwritten rules that guide the conduct of the Homeric Heroes.” For the Homeric Heroes, success means survival and greater honor; failure means death and removal from the struggle for honor. What the Heroic code means is that honor is more important than life itself. It is obvious throughout the books that the characters of high honor are the ones that ignore warnings to stay away from danger, battles, and the like. Courage, physical abilities, and social status are also important contributions to the Homeric code. To truly understand this code and the true dedication to it as told by Homer, means becoming accustom to the values kept by those in this story.
Hector is a main character in the Iliad on the side of the Trojans. He shows great perseverance and has stern conviction for the code of honor as shown many times during the course of The Iliad. A prime illustration of this is shown where Hector rebukes Paris for refraining from the fight, “Now the long-haired Greeks will laugh and say that our beautiful hero has no heart in him or courage.” (Pg. 48) Hector shows how devoted he is to the ideal of honor and criticizes Paris for the shame that he has brought to the entire Trojan army and himself. Before Hector’s death, he contemplates his options. “It will be far better to meet Achilles man to man and kill him and then go in; or be killed by him, in all honor, before the city.” (176)
Another place where we see Hector's strict belief in the code of honor is in book six, when he goes home. Hector returns to Troy in order to have women sacrificing to Athena to help the Trojans in the war. This leads to Hector scolding Paris, telling him "The people die before walls and war flames round the city because of you. You would be angry yourself to see another man hanging back from the fight. (85)
Although Paris and Hector are brothers, it was interesting to notice...