Hector vs. Achilles in the Iliad

Essay by zara23Junior High, 8th gradeA+, January 2009

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A HeroIn the Iliad, many of the male characters display heroic characteristics, consistentwith the heroic warrior code of ancient Greece. Heroes try to win glory in battle, yet areoften characterized as having a distinctly human side. They each have certain strengths andweaknesses, which are shown throughout the conflicts described in the Iliad. According toHomer, a hero is one who is willing to risk his or her life for what they know to be good,true, and beautiful. The first examples of such characters are Achilles and Hector. Thesetwo characters have obvious differences in their approaches to fitting the heroic characterto what they separately believe. However, despite their differences and the fact that theyare fighting for opposing armies and meet each other with hatred in battle, they also havenumerous similar traits which eventual lend themselves to a comparison between thegreater hero. They both display behavior that could be described as heroism.

Howeverthroughout the Iliad, one could see how Hector, going through the same hardships asAchilles, determined to stay firm and press on with his army even if this meant sacrificinghis life.

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, a hero is a man that is recognizedby his achievements and qualities. Achilles and Hector were both great men with virtuewhom no soldier in battle could ever stand a chance against. Even though both of theseheroes strived to gain as much honor as they could, one either used it for their cities gloryor for themselves. Later, in Book XXI, Achilles shows everyone the Achaeans’ battleprowess when he went to the river and killed Trojan soldiers one by one becauseof rage (XXI 493-495). Hector, on the other hand, was a man who wanted the best for hispeople even if it meant to leave family behind and fight against the greatest enemy (VI155). He...