Hector vs. Achilles

Essay by Dani22High School, 10th grade November 2014

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Hector versus Achilles in the Iliad

Many of the characters in epics try to follow the heroic code established in ancient times. The heroic code revolves around honor found through a person's performance on the battlefield, the gifts and rewards they earn, and other features of humanity. However, very few achieve this completely since it requires having pride, admirable physical qualities, virtue, bravery, and much more. In the Iliad, both Hector and Achilles fulfilled different aspects of the code based on their personal strengths and weaknesses, but Hector surpassed Achilles as the more heroic of the two characters. Although both men were strong leaders with similar values, their words and actions in everyday life and their own interpretations of heroism created enough of a gap that Hector was shown as the greater hero.

Hector and Achilles were very similar in their actions on the battlefield, reactions to guilt and grief, and how they often let their emotions take over and drive certain decisions.

Achilles had supernatural strength beyond comparison and was a full war hero, living for the glory and rewards that fighting provided in life. Even his argument with and promise to Agamemnon that he would not help him during the war could not keep him out of the fray; Achilles yearned to fight. While Hector was slightly less physically adept, he led the Trojans with a strong force and did quite well in battle. Both men had a strong conscience, though Achilles took a little bit longer to discover his. They both felt guilt and reacted to it in similar ways. Hector took on the blame when he knew that it was his fault Achilles came to destroy them, and he stood up by himself in a desperate attempt to save the Trojans and right his wrong.