Heroes In The Iliad Essay

Essay on Heroes in the Iliad

1113 Words5 Pages

Throughout The Iliad, the heroic characters make decisions based on a definite set of principles, which are referred to as the "code of honor." The heroic code that Homer presents to the reader is an underlying cause for many of the events that take place, but many of the characters have different perceptions of how highly the code should be regarded. Hektor, the greatest of the Trojan warriors, begins the poem as the model of a Homeric hero. His dedication and strict belief in the code of honor is illustrated many times throughout the course of The Iliad. An example of this is presented in book three of the poem, where Hektor reprimands Paris for refusing to fight. He says to Paris, "Surely now the flowing-haired Achains laugh…show more content…

You yourself would fight with another whom you saw anywhere hanging back from the hateful encounter," (6:327). Paris agrees that he has been dishonoring himself, and tells Hektor he will return with him to fight. Hektor then goes to find Andromache, who is standing by the walls outlining the battlefield with Astanax, their son.
When Andromache pleads with Hektor to stay home and cease fighting,
Hektor refuses, telling her that he would feel deep shame in front of the Trojans if he were to withdraw himself from the war. Hektor then tells Andromache that the thought of her being dragged off by the
Achains troubles him, but he is relieved by the knowledge that she will be looked at as "the wife of Hektor, who was ever the bravest fighter of the Trojans, breakers of horses, in the days when they fought about
Ilion," (6:460). This causes Andromache to shed tears. On the one hand, she understands Hektor's beliefs and deep sense of morality, but on the other feels it is just as honorable to stay home and care for one's family. This is a second place in which Hektor feels torn between two conflicting responsibilities. A character's social status was mainly based upon his performance in the battlefield. Achilleus is a tragic figure who believes strongly in social order, but questions the idea of fighting for glory. When Aias and Odysseus are sent by Agamemnon to plead with Achilleus' to fight for the Greeks, Achilleus denies them, saying "There

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Essay on The Iliad of Homer and Greek Heroes

1495 Words6 Pages

The Iliad is an epic tale of war and hero’s within the Greek way of life. A

predominant and consistent theme of honor and glory reside throughout the poem. The

motivation for any Homeric Greek is glory, or “Kleos”, that is to be honored and

respected among their people. Emphasis is put on living by the heroic code. Honor is

essential to the Greeks and life would not be worth living without it. When a warrior or

hero is advised to avoid risking their life in battle it almost drives them even further

towards the deed. It is better to be killed in action rather than to live and be thought a

coward. By our rational standards one would certainly not be thought a coward if they

didn’t rush into battle to almost certain death,…show more content…

It would be

brought back to the homeland and displayed as a sign of power; this is how Kleos was

attained, and how respect was earned.

To the victor went more than the battle armor. They would regularly take their

pick of the local women to take back with them and “lay in bed together”. This became

one of the centerpieces for the conflict between Achilleus and Agamemnon, when a

quarrel arose and Achilleus was asked to allow Briseis, a prize that he won in battle, to go

back to her land. It is common to keep your female prizes as your own; however,

Achilleus felt that his ego was tested when he was asked to return her. This went hand in

hand with the honor factor, it would be shameful for him to oblige and give back what he

rightfully won. After all, she was a symbol of Kleos, by giving her back he was losing

something which he strived so hard to attain. The Greek warrior was very selfish, there

was no sense of community on their foremost mind, and it was about the self and their

status among others. The warrior who was most feared was the warrior that got the most

respect and admirations from the generations that would follow. The poem is after all

about Achilleus, a great warrior that fought hard and attained much glory in doing so.

The shame that one would feel from avoiding battle is evident in many cases throughout the poem. When Hektor is

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