The objective of attaining Kleos was the centerpiece of life. Kleos could only be attained beating your opponent, it could not be won if it’s offered voluntarily or as a dowry . On the flip side of the pursuit of glory and respect, is the avoidance of shame and humility for not taking part in war or not risking your life. To be shamed in life is far, far worse than to be killed in battle. A Homeric warrior would be greatly shamed if he were to turn his back on a battle or confrontation even if he is certain that if he fights, he will die.
In the Iliad there are many characters that could be considered heroic. But the two main characters that stand out as heroes to me are swift-footed Achilles and flashing-helmet Hector. Numerous times throughout the epic they display qualities and traits that are unsurpassed by anyone on their side. Many times throughout the epic Achilles and Hector are tested for their strength, and will to win in battle, which for both warriors always ends up positive because they always win their battles. Although both fighters are among the elite status in the armies, they each show human and god-like qualities that help them be as a fierce and feared as possible.
Beowulf is truly an epic hero, because of his wisdom, strength and bravery. These characteristics keep him set apart from all other character. He would take any risk to defeat his enemy and to gain glory. Even when he dies, he defeated his opponent and gained more glory to his name. In Beowulf, there are series of battles centered around the heroic figure Beowulf, who is an epic hero.
It is this complete pity that makes the death of Othello so tragic as the audience lends their full hopeful support until the inevitable and unavoidable fall. The evil side of Othello’s tragic flaw came from without, in the form of Iago. The internal flaw exists only in his heartrendingly unshakable goodness and honor. One of the first impressions gained of Othello is that he is a great war hero. Before much else is said of him, tales of his skill and valor in battle are illustrated and he is shown to be a great and famed warrior.
Chaucer's Knight is respected because he has proven himself in battle. Earlier poets recognised the violence of war but saw it as an honourable struggle, and that death was a worthy sacrifice. In pre-World War One poems, Alfred Tennyson among other poets describes war; the emphasis on honour and glory: "When can their glory fade? O the wild charge they made!" The charge is the best-known example of the heroism and stupidity of war, but Tennyson focuses on the glory.
"Higlac is my cousin and my king…(142)" says Beowulf in his preparation to do battle with the threatening monster, Grendel. Loyalty to the Anglo-Saxons was heroic; however, the tale of Beowulf has lived on so many years for a greater reason than Beowulf being a loyal individual. Heroes today, as well as heroes of yesterday, such as Beowulf, all share the characteristic of their willingness to die in their attempt to accomplish their heroic act, thus making the act in itself heroic. Beowulf knows that there is a chance that he may die in his great battle against Grendel when he says, "No, I expect no Danes will fret about sewing our shrouds, if he wins. And if death does take me, send the hammered mail of my armor to Higlac…"; yet he is still willing to attempt to conquer Grendel.
The Iliad, translated by Robert Fitzgerald, is an epic about the Trojan war which displays the complicated relationships between the Greeks and the Trojans in their final year of battle. Akhilleus has all the attributes of a great warrior and distinguishes himself as one of the strongest fighters on the Akhaian side. In The Iliad, Akhilleus’ motivation is led by his thirst for bravery and the desire to leave behind a legacy causing him to go to far extents to fulfill Akhilleus’ need for pride. However, this is only attained after his conversation with Priam, when Akhilleus learns what it means to show honor in a sense of camaraderie and loyalty. Throughout the poem, Akhilleus seeks respect and honor, but nothing is enough for him.
Homer drives home the bleakness and hopelessness of war with his final book. When thinking of a war, the first thought to pop into one's head is most likely death and suffering, not great triumph and glory. For a great majority of the Iliad, however, Homer writes about the winning of glory, and the pride taken in killing a foe. This gives war an entertainment value, and makes it seem that it is a good opportunity to be fighting in a war. This is not the case whatsoever.
Warfare is also Glorious The society has always protested against the uncivilized and barbaric nature of wars. Time and time again, war has been branded as vain and meaningless strifes. People enjoy their time of peace, “yet ironically, they forget about war, the root of such greatness itself” (Tolstoy 215). Warfare, indubitably, is the greatest reason why humanity progresses. Through many instances in the history of mankind, the bloodshed of millions of lives has not only brought forth a more prosperous society, but also pushed humanity to the greater attainments in individual expertise, social regulation, and cultural developments.
Both stories tell the tale of brave young heroes, always believing that their fight, their cause, is the true cause. In both stories, the heroes understand the role of fate. In Beowulf, the hero of that name understands that the monster Grendel may end his life, but is not deterred. He is not aware of his destiny, but realizes without qualms that if Grendel does kill him, then that was his time to die. In Iliad, both Hector and Achilles are keenly aware that their lives will end in battle.