Achilles And Hector Are Depicted Term Paper

Length: 5 pages Sources: 1+ Subject: Drama - World Type: Term Paper Paper: #23364255 Related Topics: Ajax, Revenge, Ancient Greece, Poem Analysis
Excerpt from Term Paper :

It is rather like a feud in this respect -- the one who commits the final act of revenge is declared the winner.

Hector is the Trojan warrior whose character differs greatly from that of Achilles and who has very different reasons for fighting. Where Achilles fights for glory, Hector sacrifices himself or his family, his country, and his ideals. His dedication to family is apparent as he visits his wife and children while delivering a message away from the battlefield, a clear contrast with the way Achilles ignores family obligations. Hector places himself in harm's way knowingly in service to his city, a contrast with Achilles, who sulks in his tent because of his own pride and not because of any concern for his country. At the same time, both men tend to be reckless, as seen in hector when he is advised by Polydamus to retire from the Greek entrenchments but does not do so. Critics also cite such characteristics as "the courage with which he encounters Ajax in single combat; the tears that he sheds when he bids farewell to his family; the terror which strikes him when he sees Achilles approaching, and the fortitude with which he stands to meet his doom" (Benjamin 155), all traits deemed characteristic of the nature of the oriental warrior.

Hector is not brought on stage at the beginning, though it is evident that he will be the primary foe to Achilles. Hector is instead referred to by Achilles, who swears that the Greeks will regret his absence when they face the man-slaying Hector. The words and prayer of Achilles center on defeating Hector, thus elevating Hector to a special status: "We are not surprised therefore to find that, when the Trojans are first introduced, it is Hector on whom chiefly rests the protection of the city, nor to read in the Trojan Catalogue that 'Great Hector of waving plume, the son of Priam, led the Trojans, and with him the best warriors eagerly armed themselves'" (Scott 207).

Clearly, both warriors are celebrated and are recognized as


While the Greeks are unhappy with Achilles, it is not because of hits fighting ability but because he is refusing to use it until forced to do so. Achilles is so bound by his pride and his sense of greatness that he has trouble recognizing what the war is really about and how others rely upon him. On the other hand, Hector always keeps in mind the reason for the war and his own need to protect his family and his city. As noted, his reputation precedes him, and it is a deserved reputation. At the same time, both Achilles and Hector can be hot-headed, and both are advised by others to keep their heads and to avoid reckless behavior. Hector listens better than Achilles, but both indulge themselves to a degree. Hector is always ready to fight when called upon, while Achilles sulks and refuses when he is unhappy.

The clash between the two has an air of inevitability, given the way Achilles speaks of Hector early in the poem. The first time an opportunity presents itself, Achilles refuses because he is sulking in his tent, and his friend Patroclus goes in his place and is killed. This becomes a catalyst for bringing Achilles out of his tent, bent on revenge. his anger is so great that he allows himself to challenge the gods by his treatment of the defeated enemy. He drags the body of Hector behind his chariot, and this disrespect cannot go unavenged. Ultimately, this leads to the death of Achilles. This also emphasizes the back-and-forth nature of both war and revenge, and only a decisive victory can end the fighting and allow the Greeks to go home. The death of hector is not such a victory. It only spurs his side to greater efforts to destroy the enemy, centering first on Achilles.

Works Cited

Benjamin, S.G.W. Troy: Its Legend, History and Literature. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1880.

Fagles, Robert (tr.). The Iliad. New York: Viking, 1990.

Scott, John a. The Unity of…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited

Benjamin, S.G.W. Troy: Its Legend, History and Literature. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1880.

Fagles, Robert (tr.). The Iliad. New York: Viking, 1990.

Scott, John a. The Unity of Homer. New York: Biblo and Tannen, 1965.

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