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Hero Illiad

Essay by   •  June 5, 2011  •  1,199 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,381 Views

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In all great epics, there is always an emphasis and a strong discussion about the idea of heroism. In most epics there is a clear-cut hero, who is noble, a man of great honor and respect, and a man worthy of the distinction of being called a hero. The question must be brought up of what defines a hero? Is it just someone who commits a single heroic act, or does that person have to commit numerous heroic acts throughout their lifetime? In The Iliad there are two characters that truly stick out when one is talking about heroism. While The Iliad focuses on Achilles and his desire not to fight, and then his heroic return to battle to defeat the Trojans, there can also be an argument made that Hector is truly the great hero of The Iliad. They are both men of great honor and who drive their fellow soldiers in battle. They are well-respected by both the Greeks and the Trojans, and fight nobly seemingly unafraid of death. However after examining The Iliad, it is obvious that when one thinks of a hero, one thinks of Hector, a man who would do anything for his people. While there is an argument to be made for Achilles as the greater hero, it still falls short to the selflessness and the character of Hector, someone who truly encompasses the word hero.

Achilles is a great warrior; there is no question about it. Everyone on the Greek side looks to Achilles to lead them into battle, because they know he is powerful, and has the blood of the gods running through him. It is highly unlikely anyone can strike him down because of this. He inspired his fellow soldiers, while at the same time he instilled great fear into his enemies. No Trojan soldier wanted to face Achilles in battle, because they knew it would ultimately result in their death. Achilles has many heroic qualities about him, first and foremost is his ability to lead in battle. He inspires all those around him with his seemingly unafraid to die attitude while in battle (this seems to change completely outside of battle). He also, when he was resolved not to fight, jumps back into war, knowing it is certain death because of Patroculus. "Then let me die at once since it was not my fate to save my dearest comrade from his death!" This is Achilles' reasoning to go back into battle. He believes that since he couldn't save his cousin and best friend, then he must avenge Patroculus death the only way he knows how, and that is by taking vengeance on the Trojans and Hector in particular. However along with Achilles heroic nature it seems throughout the epic he shows weakness, and a fear of death. A true hero would not be afraid of death, and would never question going to battle if he is ordered to by a king or a commanding officer. In his mind there are two options "If I hold out here and I lay siege to Troy, my journey home is gone, but my glory never dies. If I voyage back to the fatherland I love, my pride, my glory dies...true, but the life that's left me will be long, the stroke of death will not come on me quickly." The fact that he is even questioning not going to battle for the glory in un-heroic and would compromise any argument made for Achilles being a true hero. One notable thing Achilles does do however is stick to his beliefs and not waver, for money. Even though he is a coward, he doesn't let himself be bought out by Agamemnon. "I say no wealth is worth my life! ...A man's life breath cannot come back again--no raiders in force, no trading brings it back, once it slips through a man's clenched teeth." Achilles is offered a vast fortune in from Agamemnon in exchange for returning to fight for the Greeks, but he turns it down staying true to his belief of being a coward. This hardly seems like a characteristic I would call heroic.

When examining the character of Hector, one encounters someone who is truly heroic. Without question the most feared Trojan soldier, and probably besides Achilles the most feared person in this war. He, like Achilles does

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