Two Flawlessly Flawed Heroes (the Illiad)
Two Flawlessly Flawed Heroes (the Illiad)
The Illiad, an epic poem written by Homer, is set during the very end of the long Trojan War. The war starts after Paris, a prince of Troy, steals Helen, the wife of an Achean named Menelaus. Menelaus’ brother is Agamemnon, the leader of the Achean army and they go to war with the Trojans to win Helen back. The initial conflict in the story is when Achilles gets angry because Agamemnon takes his beautiful war prize, Briseis. Achilles commands a group of Myrmidon soldiers and is the best warrior on the Achean side, while Paris’s brother Hector is the best warrior on the Trojan side. In The Illiad Hector and Achilles are portrayed as having very different personalities; however, they are both considered heroes. Homer needs both of the heroes in order to show the vast number of superior attributes that he believes a hero should possess, and he also gives them flaws to contrast and enhance their heroic qualities.

Homer depicts both Achilles and Hector as having many heroic qualities throughout the Illiad. Achilles has many of the stereotypical characteristics of a hero such as great skills as a warrior. Throughout the epic he is referred to as “the swift runner” and “breaker of men” showing that it is accepted by the other characters and the author that Achilles is a great, skilled, quick warrior (Homer 121,169). Also, Achilles is often seen as godlike since he is such a good, invincible warrior, and he really is more godlike than most other mortals because his mother is a sea nymph (Homer 123). Achilles is not only god-like but he is favored by the gods; for example, in the last battle between Hector and Achilles, Athena helps Achilles by tricking Hector into believing that she is helping him and Achilles ends up killing Hector (Homer 200). Furthermore, Achilles even has armor that is made by the gods. Another of Achilles’ heroic qualities is that he is brave because he is not afraid to die; he continues fighting despite many reminders from his mother that he is “doomed to a short life” (Homer 130). Achilles is often seen as a hero in The Illiad, but he is not the only one; Hector also has many heroic qualities.

Like Achilles, Hector has many very heroic qualities throughout the Illiad. Similar to Achilles being known as the greatest fighter for the Acheans, Hector is the greatest warrior on the Trojan side. In book VI Homer even refers to Hector as “the lone defense of Troy” (143). Just as Achilles is referred to as the “swift runner”, Hector is often referred to as “Hector, helmet flashing” (Homer 142). These very flashy descriptions are almost like part of the men’s titles since they are used so often, which is very heroic because it shows their importance. Another of Hector’s heroic qualities is shown in the scene where all of the people of Troy come running up to him inquiring about the fate of their loved ones who have been fighting (Homer 139). This shows that he is a great leader among the Trojans because the people trust and look up to him. Hector also reveals a heroic quality when he, like Achilles, shows that he is not afraid to die. His wife begs him to take up his troops and stop fighting before he dies but he refuses and tells her that he would rather die in battle than be a coward. Here he also reveals his desire for glory, another very heroic attribute, when he says that he will continue fighting in order to win his “father great glory, glory for himself” (Homer 144). This also reveals that he is unselfish because he does not want all of the glory for himself. Like Achilles, Hector is favored by the gods, especially Zeus; however, Hector shows more respect back to the gods than Achilles (Homer 141). Hector will not even make a sacrifice to Zeus in book VI because he is not clean and he has the blood of battle on him (Homer 140). Hector also exudes the confidence of a hero throughout the epic such as when his brother, Paris, says that he can be a better warrior than him. Hector’s response is just to stand there, “helmet flashing”, saying nothing, showing that he has so much faith in his abilities as a warrior that he does not even need to grace the comment with an answer (Homer 142). Hector often shows that he is a family man in the story which is not necessarily thought of as a heroic quality but can be argued as one because it shows that he is not merely a good warrior but a good man all together. Also, the fact that he continues to fight the war despite his wife asking him to stop shows that he is even more heroic since it is known that he loves his wife and son very much, but he is still devoted to the war (Homer 144). Like Achilles, Hector also continues fighting despite his doomed fate. In book XXII he performs his most heroic act when he proudly continues to fight Achilles even after he realizes that the gods have betrayed him and that he is going to die in this battle (Homer 200). Hector and Achilles each have very heroic

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Paris’S Brother Hector And Illiad Hector. (April 2, 2021). Retrieved from