The Iliad: The Honor of Heroes

Essay by brettwalterUniversity, Bachelor's October 2004

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In the poem "The Iliad," the author Homer, illustrates the extent that honor and pride played in the lives of the ancient Greeks. During that time period, men were willing to sacrifice anything and everything in order to achieve or uphold their honor and pride and the common goal to be remembered as a hero rather than to not be remembered at all would many times be the downfall for men of this era.

"The Iliad" takes place during the Trojan war. While most wars today are fought over political differences, boundary disagreements or the protection of one's country, the Trojan war began for entirely different reasons. The Trojan war was initiated by Menelaous in an effort to defend and uphold his honor when his wife was stolen from him by the Trojan prince, Paris. In ancient Greek society a common principle among men was that one must defend his status and prevent shame from being brought upon him, at all costs.

For this paper, it is my intent to compare and contrast honor and pride and the thoughts and actions of two of the story's heroes, Achilles and Hector.

These two characters, Achilles and Hector have obvious differences in their approaches to fitting the heroic mold to which they both try to conform. However, despite their differences and the fact that they are fighting for opposing armies, (Achilles fights for the Greeks and Hector fights for the Trojans) they also have numerous similarities. They both value their honor and pride above everything else and although each of them have experienced individual premonitions of their own death as a result of this war, they both choose to fight, which shows that they are truly heroes. The primary differences between the two heroes relate to their individual reasons for fighting...