The Main Factors that Contributed to Heroism of Hector in Iliad
The Iliad was written by the Greek poet, Homer, which covers the war and fights between the Trojans and the Acheans during the final year of the Trojan war. The events surrounding the main characters and gods are depicted in the last several weeks of the war. The poem begins with King Agamemnon demanding Achille’s, a powerful Greek warrior, to give him Briseis, which was Achille’s war prize. This ignites an ongoing feud which ultimately results in Achilles distancing himself from the war. Achilles even asks that the Trojans beat the Greeks, which cause the Acheans to suffer greatly. The fight between Paris and Menelaus over Helen is also described to be the main cause of the war. The story is heavily affected by the involvement of gods throughout and reflects the key characteristics of heroism. In many ways, Hector, the leader of the Trojan army, embodies what being a hero is. Hector reflects his heroism through his selflessness and humanity, bravery, and loyalty.
When Hector is first introduced in the Iliad, the primary reason for his involvement in the war is out of responsibility to his city and his family. His selflessness is shown throughout many of the speeches he makes during the war. Most of his speeches are concerned with the fate of his city, and the effect the war may have on his family. Another attribute of Hector’s selflessness is he rarely boasts about his successes during the war and he is not as prideful compared to his other war hero counterparts. It is clear that Hector deeply cares for his family, and it shows that he is a lot more human than a lot of the characters in the story. One example of his humanity is at the end of book 6, Hector tries to cheer up his wife after she worries about his fate in the war. “Andromache,/ dear one, why so desperate? Why so much grief for me?/ No man will hurl me down to Death, against my fate.” (6.579-581). Hector’s character traits are also shown in his dismay for the war. He voices his disappointment of Paris, who is his brother, for allowing a war to happen so close to where his wife and son live, especially over such juvenile circumstances. Hector even persuades Paris and Menelaus to end the war with a one-on-one fight, because he looked out for his people as a whole (Thomas).
Courage in the Iliad is praised even more than faithfulness or honesty, which is why Hector is described as one of the greatest warriors to fight in the war. Hector is also very different from some of the other greatest warriors because he is mortal. Hector also exhibits humanity and often times more bravery than some of the demigods in the war. Hector is also unwavering when it comes to facing his duty and even his fate. Although he is devoted to his wife and son, he continues to fight for his city. Hector is also faced with many which might tempt him to leave the war, one of which is when his young son cannot recognize him after coming back in his battle gear covered in blood, sweat, and dirt. His son cries and screams until Hector takes his helmet off and comforts his son. Hector’s bravest moment is perhaps when he recognizes that his death is inevitable. “I beg you, beg you by your life, your parents/ don’t let the dogs devour me by the Argive ships!” (22.399-400) Hector does not plead for Achilles to save his life, Hector accepts his fate heroically not cowardly and just asks that Achilles returns his body back to his loved ones.
A big part of Hector’s personality that makes him a hero is his loyalty towards all aspects of his life. It is clear from the beginning of the plot that Hector feels very strongly about fulfilling one’s duty to their city and that each person is responsible for pulling their own weight in the war. He is highly critical of people who do not carry out their duties and are cowardly. Hector regularly insults his brother Paris for his lack of responsibility to defend his city and how cowardly Paris is. Hector also shows a lot of loyalty to his family. He is faithful to his wife and is very family-oriented. His loyalty to his family is largely due to his kindness by nature which is characterized by his attitude towards Helen because he was the only person who was ever nice to her once the war started. His loyalty to his city is depicted in his prayer over his son before he returns to battle. “ Zeus… Grant this boy, my son,/maybe like me, first in glory among the Trojans.” (6.569-571) Hector understands that Troy may be defeated, his family may be killed, and his wife may be enslaved if he continues to fight, but wishes that his son might gain glory like Hector.
Although Hector was not the strongest warrior in the Iliad, it does not mean he was not the best. He was outmatched because mainly because of his mortality but this was a key factor that contributed to his heroism. Hector, was not gifted courage and strength unlike Achilles, instead, he devoted his life to learning and observing how to be strong and brave. His humanity and loyalty also made him very respected and loved by many people which is much more relatable, which allowed Hector to resonate with more people.
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