What is a true hero? In the Homers epic poem The Iliad it is Achilles who tends to get the glory, and fame as the Hero in the story. I disagree. I do not argue that that Achilles did not have many heroic qualities, because he did. However I do not believe he had more heroic qualities or was greater than Priams’ son, Hector. I hope in this brief paper I can share my beliefs on why Hector, the leader of the Trojan army, is the true hero in this classic tale. I will start with Achilles character. Achilles is mortal man. But he is godlike because his mother is a goddess.
We are aware that Achilles dislikes the gods for rejecting him their world. He has to face the fact that he is only a human, and at some point he will have to die. When he comes to this realization he turns to making his name last for all times. He wants to gain so much honor for his name, that it will be remembered centuries after. I guess in his mind the next best thing to living forever was having his name last forever. So he becomes obsessed with finding a way to honor his name. You cannot really blame him though. Achilles really did not have anyone in his life.
Thetis, his mother, was a goddess. She lives in the sea. It’s probable that she was not always there for him. He had no Father, sisters, brothers, wife, or kids. He had nothing else to do, but try to make someone remember him. So he goes to the shores of Troy, to fight and find honor for himself. Right of the back he is given two choices. First he could live a long life. He would find a women to marry, and would have children. But when his children, grandchildren, and their children were gone his name would be forgotten forever. He would be like other mortals whose names were forgotten.
He has never had a family so I can understand why this would not be appealing to him. So he goes with his second choice. His second option was to go to the shores of Troy, where he would gain great honor for himself. His name would be remembered forever. People would always speak of the great Achilles, but he would live a very short life. You might think, “Oh Achilles is being heroic going to fight for his people. ” The truth is he does not care at all about the Achaeans. He just wants to claim his glory. When Agamemnon takes away a girl, his prize, he feels as if his honor has been challenged.
He gets so angry that he refuses to fight. Not only that ,but he pities himself so much that he turns to his mother, and asks her to go to Zeus. He wants her to ask Zeus to make the Greeks start to lose. He wants his own people to start losing, so that they will get on their knees and beg for him to fight again. He wants to humiliate them, the same way he felt that they humiliated him. Does that sound like a hero to you? He wants his own men to die so that he can feel better about himself. That is selfish and wrong to wish death upon his own men, for his gained glory.
How much earlier would the walls of Troy fallen if Achilles did not act in this fashion? How many men could he have saved? No one knows, but I believe the war would have ended much sooner, and as a result fewer men would have died. He says he will not help the Greeks until the fighting reaches his ships. When the fighting finally comes close to his ship he still does not fight. Patroklos, his cousin, asks him if he can dress up in his armor, and go to fight. His cousin makes the argument that when the men think it is the great Achilles they will be motivated and fight.
That way Achilles gets all the glory without letting his grudge with Agamemnon go. Unfortunately, Patroklas is killed by Hector. Because the only person he cares about in life dies, Achilles goes into a state of depression. He is crying, screaming, rolling on the ground, putting his face in the dirt, and pulling out huge chunks of hair. This is the first time we see him have feelings for anyone or anything other than his honor. He says that he is going to kill Hector for this. He is ready to jump up and do it right then. But he is convinced that the men need rest and food.
He will not eat or sleep until Hector is dead. When he finally does kill Hector, he humiliates his body in front of his people. The only reason he gives him back is because Priam begs. Is Achilles the hero because he killed Hector? I don’t think so. Achilles is strong and brave. He has the attitude of a god. He believes nothing can stop him. Achilles powerful, but he is selfish and self-conceited. And just like Hector he dies. Because though he may look, act, and have power like a god he is mortal. Hector is an interesting character.
Now and then we see almost every person in this poem do something for themselves, with the exception of Hector. Never does he do anything that would bring glory to himself in a selfish way. It would seem that Hector only care about two things. He cares about Troy. He loves Troy, and all the people. He fights as hard as he can to keep it standing. He gives up his own life fighting Achilles. When he went down to fight him he knew that he would probably lose, but he went down anyways. He was going fight as hard as he can with no regrets. And he did. The second thing he cares about is his family.
Andromache is his wife. He is devoted to her. He loves her and their son. He goes back from the war for a short period to see them. He kisses them both, and expresses that he cares for them. There is one time when Helen asks Hector to, “Rest on this seat with me. ” I think she was trying to seduce him a little though I may be wrong. Either way Hector shows his devotion to his wife and declines Helens offer. Helen is beautiful. She is the face which launched a thousand ships. It is because of her the whole war is going on. But without hesitation he rejects her offer, and without regret walks away.
He was in love with his wife. He cared about his family more than anything. He was fighting for Troy, but also to keep them safe. He tells his wife that he would rather die than see harm come to her. Hector is a great warrior. His men respect him. His family loves him. He is a courageous and strong soldier. He is never selfish, and his not fighting for any personal glory. So, we see great warriors in The Iliad. It is my belief that Hector is the Hero. Achilles is said to be the hero, but I just don’t see how he is. Achilles cares for himself. His ambition in life is create a name that will last forever.
He treats women as prizes instead of people. And in the end the only thing he fights for is his honor. Yes he at one point is filled with rage, and fights for Patroklos. But if he had just fought for his people, instead of waiting for them to beg, Patroklos might not have died. Hector cares for others. He fights for others. He is not concerned with personal glory. His ambition is to save Troy. To keep is family safe, so he can be with them. He dies trying to keep them safe. He is always thinking of others. Most importantly Hector fights for love. That’s why Hector is the true Hero of the Iliad.