Divided by Conflict; United by Heroism: The Iliad by Homer

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The Iliad focuses its narrative on the glories of heroes in the Trojan War, particular Achilles and Hector. Although both are heroes for their side, they have complex personalities that explain their actions. Indeed, as one reads through the poem, it seems that they have nothing in common. They do not share motives for fighting, similar views concerning the immortals, or perspective concerning relationships of those around them, yet they are united by characteristics that constitute a hero as we understand one. Despite their differences, Achilles and Hector both place value on bravery, fight on behalf of others, and see the humanity in those they are fighting with and against.
At times, the dissimilarity between the personalities of Hector and Achilles appear insurmountably vast. Just the introductions of both characters illuminate the stark distinctions between the two. The Iliad opens by referencing one of many selfish deeds committed by Achilles and its dire consequences. Out of rage, he takes advantage of his supernatural lineage and requests that his mother, Thetis, sway Zeus in favor of Trojans. Agamemnon alone offended Achilles by insulting him and confiscating his war prize, yet Achilles’ rage cost the entire greek army “incalculable pain, pitched countless souls of heroes into Hades dark” (1.3-4). Hector’s actions in Book VI show him to be a selfless hero. Unlike Hercules, who concerns himself with the gods when they assist his desire for timé, Hector reveres the gods. He refuses to pour a libation to honor Zeus with hands covered in dirt and blood blood. Achilles actions only benefited himself by causing the army feel that they needed him to succeed. He shows no compassion or remorse for those who are struck down due ...

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...eft his heart,” he treats Priam with great respect and allows him to retrieve the body of his son. The man who would have taught Hector his compassion restores Achilles with his words. Through the death of Hector, who had compassion and saw people as more than warriors, Achilles’ ability to recognize the humanity of others is restored.
In conclusion, both men are considered heroes by their people, but that fact can be easily forgotten due to the chaos for the opposing sides. Motives, moral code, and perspective others are consistently being switched and re-evaluated by these, sometimes, unstable characters. Despite that, their shared bravery, willingness to sacrifice, and value of another man’s humanity prove they have more in common than they would ever admit. Although doomed to remain foes until their fast approaching deaths, true heroism ultimately unites them.
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