The Heroic Status of Hector in Iliad and Troy

June 22, 2022 by Essay Writer

Greek Mythology is one of the most studied ancient literature in the world. The excellent work of Homer transformed ancient European literature by providing learners with exceptional myths and literature involving war, gods, heroes, and ancient beliefs. The war poem illustrates the various perception of Greek heroes through their ability to uphold the Greek heroic code. This code involves the ability to maintain status or honor, wining glory or reputation, loyalty to friends or family. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to analyze Hector’s character as a hero by reviewing the various ways he succeeded or failed in upholding the Greek heroic code. The paper uses the three values used to identify heroes in Greece to analyze Hector’s heroic status in Iliad.

Maintaining Status or Honor

Heroes in ancient Greek had to be brave, have high self-esteem, take responsibility, lead armies, and seek glory through their prowess in battles. The arrival of Hector in Troy result in jubilations and joy for all Trojans. Trojan’s fiercest warrior had returned home. The chants from the Trojan public. Hector claims, “But I would be terribly ashamed before the men of Troy and the Trojan women trailing their long robes if I would skulk away from battle like a coward.” (Hom. Il. 6.441-443) Hector’s position and heroic status in Troy meant that the public expected him to lead the army. He knew the dangers of facing Achilles or being in the front line, but to maintain his status and honor in the community, he had to risk his life. Backing down from a fight would damage his honor and respect from the Trojans. The sorrow that engraved Troy following his death is a depiction of how valued and iconic he was to the Trojans. Even in the disgrace of Achilles mutilating his body, Hector retained his status and honor while cowards such as Paris were despised the public.

Other than his battle prowess, Homer depicts Hector to be a noble family man. His private conversation with his wife and mother, the public speeches to motivate his army shows that he was humble compared to other Greek heroes. These descriptions and the essence that he lost to Achilles, who was seared by a god, shows that he was a mortal human hero.

Winning Glory or Good Reputation

Hector’s response to his wife Andromache depicts he yearn and desire for glory. He states, “I’ve learned to be brave always, and to fight in the front ranks of the Trojans, winning my father great glory and glory for myself.” (Hom. Il. 6.444-446). The statement entails all the relevant reasons or factors influencing Hector to engage in the war. He knew that through victory, he would glorify his family’s name, and he would be memorable to the Trojans. Before his battle with Achilles, he understands the danger posed by Achilles and the devastating impact running would have on the Trojans. Therefore, he convinces himself that the only alternatives he had was either win the Kleos or die a glorious death (Hom. Il. 22. 105-10). Although he did not accomplish the first alternative, it is evident that he bravely gave everything to a superior god seared Achilles. Hence, achieving the second alternative. He earned respect and the attempt by Achilles to mutilate his body did not affect the glorious death and respect from the Trojans. Hence, Hecuba’s chants following Hector’s death, “You were… / a blessing to us all, the men and women of Troy: / throughout the city they saluted you like a god” (Hom. Il. 22.509-11). The chants depicts that even in defeat and death, Hector was the Trojan hero.

Helping Friends and Harming Enemies

Hector sticks to his word and dies trying to protect his families and the Trojans. He protects his family at all cost by fighting bravely and destroying the Trojan enemies. His determination to save the family’s name shows that he valued his family and was willing to die to save them. Hector a fierce fighter who like a lion charges forward towards the enemies. His motivation to protect his loved ones and Troy makes his charges intimidating to the enemies. He does not shy or hide from a battle and this has made him the fiercest warrior in Troy. He killed over twenty-eight Achaeans including Patroclus, Achilles’ friend (Hom. Il. 22.425-29). Hector’s actions, strive to protect Troy and his family depicts that he overcomes the odds following Paris, the young prince of Troy, actions of stealing Menelaus’ wife Hellen at the beginning of the poem results in the Trojan War. Achilles as the absolute hero in the story offers a challenging task for the readers to admire and fall for Hector. However, Homer’s brilliance transforms the story that would make two almost equal heroes due to Hector’s nature and nobility.

What Motivates Hector’s Choices and Behaviors

Hector shares the common objective of all Greek heroes as discussed in the previous sections. However, unlike all the Greek heroes, he has more responsibility compared than other heroes do. For instance, Paris could not protect himself after stealing Menelaus wife, Hellen. Priam and Hecuba, Hector’s father and mother, expected Hector to protect his brother at all cost. The essence that Hector is a family man and interacts with ordinary people shows that he has empathy which is different to individuals such as Agamemnon whose intentions revolves around riches and glory. The magnitude of responsibility and Hector’s willingness to bear the burden explains his choices and behavior. For instance, he had to face Achilles even if he was stronger than he was to save Troy.


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