Who is the true hero of The Iliad, Hector or Achilles?
The Iliad is a story in which many men should be recognized as great war heroes.
They all show a tremendous amount of courage to fight in such a barbaric battle. But this
paper’s main focus is between two great leaders of opposing sides. Achilles, who
represents the Achaians and Hector, who represents the Trojans. Though both show their
bravery during many different instances in the poem, it’s quite obvious to the reader who
the better of the two is. The rest of this paper will prove why Hector is a greater hero in
The reader is introduced to Achilles in the first book of the poem. King
Agamemnon and Achilles are having a conflict over a woman. But if you read deeper
into the conflict it has more to do with honor. Honor seems to be the most important thing
to all of the characters in the poem. In book two, after the argument between Achilles and
King Agamemnon has come to a hault, Achilles has already decided not to defend his
army. He feels the king has dishonored him, by refusing to give him Chryseis.
So for about of the war he did not help his fellow brothers in battle, instead he chose to
pout for more than half of the poem. He knew that he was desperately needed at one point
and still refused to assist in battle. He kept tabs on everything that was going on by
sending out Patroklos to Nestor. Nestor would keep him up to date with the daily
occurrences. There are three separate occasions where things weren’t going in favor of
Achilles, and he would cry. His tears were so heavy and his cries so loud that his mother
would come down from the heavens (She is a goddess) to offer her assistance. (In other
words, he cried for his mommy) That’s not exactly the actions of a brave warrior.
Hector is introduced to the reader around book three. His brother Paris is
challenged to a one on one match against Menelaos, with Helen as the prize. Paris loses
but the gods save him. They take Paris and Helen and put them in bed together. When
Hector finds his brother he is enraged. Hector is very concerned with upholding honor
and gives his brother a scolding about how wrong his actions are. There are many
separate occasions where the Trojan army would attempt to retreat but Hector would
always be the one to say no and want to keep going forward. For example, after Nestor
comes to battle in the armor of Achillies the Trojan army retreated but Hector kept going.
Another sign of Hectors importance is when he is chosen to be the one who is sent to
relay messages back and forth from the city of Troy, to the battlefield.
Another character trait that is seen in Hector but in no other character in the poem,
is the love for his family. On one of his trips to Troy to relay a message he stops home to
see his wife and child. Here the reader gets a sense of love and warmth from Hector. A
large majority of the poem is about battle, so to see a little compassion in one character
makes a difference in that characters role. His main purpose in fighting in the war is to
protect his wife and child. He states his concern for them if the city was to be taken over
at the end of book six. No other characters portray that image to the reader. Hector was
even able to resist Helen when she tried to seduce him in book seven, after his duel with
Ajax. He could have slept with her, who would have known? Instead he remained faithful
to his wife. Throughout all of the battles you could hear Hector chanting to his men,
hyping them up, just making the situation a little better for his men.
In the end of the poem Hector is the one to die. He shows his bravery by fighting
Achilles in the last book of the poem. All of Hectors fellow knights took shelter at the
sign of Achilles but he did not. Instead he chose to stand up to Achilles even if it did cost
him his life. The battle was very intense and the poem gives a great description of the
occurrences. The reader can easily get a mental image of the scene. Their final battle was
described from the setting in the sky, all the way to Achilles’ spear ripping through the
flesh in Hectors neck.. I could almost hear the clanking of the weapons of the two
warriors. In my opinion if Achilles would’ve been in battle for as long as Hector he
wouldn’t have won. Hector died fighting for his country and that was believed to be the
greatest honor of them all. If you take the two characters and hold them up next to one
another there isn’t even a question in my mind as to who portrays the more heroic role.
Achilles fought in the end because he blamed himself for the death of his friend. Hector
fought for his country, his family, and for his honor.