Is Achilles Treatment Of Hector's Body Conduct Unbecoming A Knight?

Is Achilles Treatment Of Hector's Body Conduct Unbecoming A Knight?

Length: 1583 words (4.5 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
Based on the text, I find it undeniable that Achilles' treatment of Hector's body was despicable. But the argument can be furthered with the question of Achilles' role in the story. Was Achilles a knight at all? Or was he simply a killer with an army? If Achilles can only be considered a knight technically, then can his actions really be measured by something he isn't truly? If it is assumed Achilles was a "knight" the argument will go one way. But if Achilles is viewed as a killer, all assumptions of proper action are dismissed, and therefore, his treatment of Hector's need find an alternative gauge.
To take it back ten steps, let's first discuss Achilles' treatment of Hector, before Hector was just a body to be discarded. In Homer's The Iliad, Hector, the son of King Priam and the heir to the Trojan throne, is faced in battle with Achilles, a Greek man made invulnerable to harm (and known for his number of killings), except for a bit of his heel that was not dipped (as he was, as a baby) in the river Styx. Their dual follows the wrongful death of Achilles' close friend Patroclus (who had dressed in Achilles' armor and entered battle) at the hands of Hector. Though Hector was mistaken, and Patroclus' death was arguably unnecessary, Achilles holds Hector accountable, and therefore they meet for battle outside the walls of Troy when Achilles comes seeking Hector, and Hector only.
It is important, still, to give clear impressions of these men, before their battle, and the aftermath of it, is analyzed. These are two men who represent very different backgrounds, coming together to fight in a battle that will test the strength of their fighting skills, and morality. Hector is the son of a king, and acts so. He expresses not only his fear of the fight with Achilles, but also of what will happen if he does not fight. "So now, better by far for me/To stand up to Achilles, kill him, come home alive/Or die at his hands in glory out before the walls. (Book XXII 124-131)" Hector embodies a sense of nobility that Achilles does not share. He fights for not only himself, but for the cause of protecting his country and its pride. Achilles fights Hector for revenge. Therefore, Hector enters the confrontation pursuing an obligation, and Achilles enters it hoping to pacify his pain in the loss of Patroclus.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Is Achilles Treatment Of Hector's Body Conduct Unbecoming A Knight?." 21 Mar 2019

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Evaluation Of Conduct And Conduct Disorder Essay

- Conduct Disorder Conduct disorder is a childhood behavior disorder characterized by aggressive and destructive behaviors that cause disruptions in the child’s everyday life, such as school, home, grocery store, and neighborhood (Connor, D. F., 2002). The primary characteristic of conduct disorder is a recurring and continual pattern of behaviors that violate societal rights and the personal rights of others. It is one of the most prevalent categories of childhood mental health disorders in the United States, with an estimated 9% for males and 2% for females (Merikangas, K....   [tags: Mental disorder, Psychology, Conduct disorder]

Research Papers
1241 words (3.5 pages)

Essay about Hector 's Dilemma Of The Iliad

- Hector’s Dilemma Hector seems to be the true protagonist in The Iliad, for he is portrayed as a level-headed ruler with a strong love for his family. When Hector’s brother, Paris, started the Trojan War by abducting Helen, Hector was kind to him. A forgiving man, Hector was also a competent leader, and the extensive military strides made by the Trojans early in the poem prove this fact. However, for all his exemplary qualities, Hector possessed an errant streak of pride. His pridefulness bubbled to the surface when he was faced with a dilemma regarding the defense of Troy....   [tags: Iliad, Trojan War, Achilles, Hector]

Research Papers
734 words (2.1 pages)

Essay Comparison Of Hector Vs. Achilles

- Comparison of Hector vs. Achilles Since the beginning of time there have always been great heroes in many different societies throughout the world. Heroes have many great qualities and characteristics about them that make the hero unique. Heroes stand out in society though there actions, abilities, and intellectual superiority. In literature, many characters possess these great skills. Many characters in stories want glory, fame, and ultimately to be remembered. These characters are attention grabbers to a reader....   [tags: Achilles, Trojan War, Iliad, Hector]

Research Papers
1404 words (4 pages)

Hector v.s Paris Rivalry in The Liad Essay

- Throughout time, sibling have had to deal with sibling rivalry. It is been seen even as far back as the 7th or 8th century b.c.e when homer wrote the epic poem, The Iliad. In the Iliad, Homer showed us a huge sibling rivalry between the two brother Hector and Paris. He focus on these two men that both want to become a great legacy and hero. Homer’s comparison of these to characters shows there drive to become the better man. Through all of there rivalries, which include but are not limited to family, behaviour in battle, and how they relate to the gods, Hector shows that he is the more honourable man....   [tags: siblings, homer, rivalry, hector]

Research Papers
1137 words (3.2 pages)

Sir Gawain And The Green Knight Essay

- The Arthurian romance, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, follows the fictional medieval life of a knight of the king’s round table. This tale is set in a time when the court is youthful, known throughout the land of Camelot, for their great honor. The protagonist, Sir Gawain, adherence to the knight’s code of conduct will be tested through a yearlong journey. This code of conduct involves the knights being chivalrous Christian men. The theme of chivalry interweaves though the tale as Sir Gawain undergoes a test to prove his worthiness to the court through a game, he is accompanied by Christian elements that strengthen him on the journey, while different interpretations of the round table’s kn...   [tags: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight]

Research Papers
1159 words (3.3 pages)

Lord Gawain And The Green Knight Essays

- In Gordon M. Shedd’s “Knight in Tarnished Armour: The Meaning of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”, he argues that Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is truly about the strength and weaknesses of human nature. One particularly interesting part of his argument asserts that Gawain’s humanity broke medieval romance tradition. Shedd’s central argument is that Sir Gawain’s true conflict is internal; it is with the duality of his own humanity. He starts by explaining that “man stands midway between the angels and the animals, partaking of both natures” (Shedd 245)....   [tags: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight]

Research Papers
745 words (2.1 pages)

Sir Gawain And The Green Knight Essay

- A hero is a character, who is endowed with great courage and strength. A hero’s character is portrayed as a noble, gallant, and even infallible human being, who is close to perfection but for a fatal flaw. In medieval Europe, chivalry, loyalty, faith, and honor were very important characteristics traits thus a medieval hero usually adheres to a strict code of knightly conduct, which requires his absolute loyalty to his king, refusal to break his oaths, and the defense of the helpless. The hero is on a journey of self-discovery and while on this journey he faces many challenges that he must endure in order to prevail....   [tags: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight]

Research Papers
1009 words (2.9 pages)

Sir Gawain And The Green Knight Essay

- “Sir Gawain and The Green Knight”: The Ultimate Test “Sir Gawain and The Green Knight” is a poem classified under the genre of Arthurian Romance. An in-depth analysis of lines 1208-1240 would certainly outline the importance of this specific passage as it is vital to the entirety of the poem for if these lines were omitted, the story would be lacking and many events would be unexplained. As this passage focuses on Gawain and the lady, one can assume that the text will highlight specific characteristics solely linked to these characters....   [tags: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight]

Research Papers
1045 words (3 pages)

Misunderstanding when Hector Kills Achille's Cousin Essay

- This passage tells us about the aftermath of misunderstanding in the war in which Hector accidently killed the cousin of Achilles, who was in the armor of Achilles and also he had his sword. Because he practiced a lot with Achilles, his fighting style was also same. Hector at this point, thought that finally Achilles himself has entered the war and he fought with him. Cousin of Achilles was weak at this point and was killed by Hector, as he could not identify the man behind the mask. After removing the helmet, Hector immediately knew that now he has to face Achilles rage face to face and this happened next, Achilles entered the gates of Troy, fought with Hector, killed him tied to his house...   [tags: hector, achilles, liad of homer]

Research Papers
553 words (1.6 pages)

Sir Gawain And The Green Knight Essay

- The Epic Sir Gawain and the Green Knight He discovers even the greatest of knights must overcome enormous temptation and pressure to live up to the chivalric and Christian ideals of knighthood. We see his shame when he returns to Arthur 's court and confesses his faults, " 'See. My lord, ' said the knight, touching the girdle, �this is the blazon of this guilty scar I bear in my neck, this is the badge of injury and the harm which I have received because of the cowardice and covetousness to which I there fell prey" (Abrams 1979, 289)....   [tags: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Chivalry]

Research Papers
1061 words (3 pages)

This difference in their motivation has everything to do with the nature of the fight, and what occurs in its wake.
Because Hector's drive is more political than personal, his mindset is that of a noble fighter, and not as an assassin, the nature of which, it could be argued, is embodied by Achilles. Hector, to put it plainly, is there to fight, while Achilles' only objective is to kill. While it is true, they both have honest intent to kill the other, Hector does not have the vengeance Achilles does, and it is possible this harms his ability to gather courage enough to fight to his fullest potential. Hector begins this battle on the defense, and though they are pitted against only each other, and therefore it can be said they are equals in the fight, Hector lacks the anger Achilles feels… and, in Hector's case, the anger necessary to conjure the motivating drive to win is replaced with fear. Hector is scared. And so, when Achilles comes for him, his instinct is to run. "…so Achilles flew at him, breakneck in a fury/with hector fleeting along the walls of Troy,/fast as his legs would go. (Book XXII 171-173)" One might say that Hector's running away is unbecoming a knight, but then again, knights are human, and so was Hector. Priam is forced to watch his son get hunted down by a killer, outside walls he built to protect his people. "Unbearable—a man I love, hunted round his own city walls/and right before my eyes (Book XXII 201-202)" cries Priam. If anything, this is foreshadowing of the lack of respect Achilles will show Hector's body, as he has no qualms of extinguishing Hector right before his own city's walls, and under the watchful eye of his father.
When Hector stops running, and finally turns to face Achilles, it is clear that Hector's psyche has instilled a great fear in him for his life. It seems, when he stops running from Achilles, that he gives up his life there. To Achilles, Hector makes a plea, making him the first to vocally acknowledge the fact that one of them will die. He tries to appease Achilles by promising him the respect of proper burial, should he be the one to die. "I swear/I will never mutilate you—merciless as you are—/If Zeus allows me to last it out and tear your life away./But once I've stripped your glorious armor, Achilles,/I will give your body back to the loyal comrades./Swear you will do the same. (Book XXII302-307)" It is clear that Hector fears for his own life, and is simply trying to gain sympathy from Achilles.
Although Hector's pleas may have appealed to a side of Achilles that craved power, Achilles' motivation to kill Hector was that of pure revenge for the life taken by Hector's hand. Because of the slaughter, which Achilles views as murder, he does not see Hector as a man. If anything, he sees him as a killer, and the two are as different as man and beast. "There are no binding oaths between men and lions—/wolves and lambs can enjoy no meeting of the minds—/they are all bent on hating each other to the death.
So with you and me. No love between us. (Book XXII 310-313) Achilles refuses to make an agreement with Hector simply because he knows that he owes Hector, the man who killed his friend, nothing. While a knight serves their king, Achilles is not at the walls of Troy to fight Hector on the king's behalf. He is there for a personal reason, and therefore all supposed regulatory actions are dismissed (i.e. all bets are off).
When Achilles refuses, it is clear that Hector not only fears for his life, but realizes that he has already lost it. Hector finally begs Achilles, offering him gifts if he should only allow the Trojans to have his body for proper burial when he is killed. "Wait, take the princely ransom of bronze and gold,/the gifts my father and noble mother will give you—/but give my body to friends to carry home again,/so Trojan men and Trojan women can do me honor/with fitting rites of fire once I am dead. (Book XXII 401-405)" It is not to be forgotten that plenty of men have fallen at the hand of Hector in battle. So perhaps there is a hint of his guilt over those losses coming out in his begging of Achilles for proper action. But then again, Hector never fought as Hector, just as a knight of Troy. Achilles and Hector are warriors with no army. They are two men with weapons.
Hector falls at the hand of Achilles, from a sword through the neck.
When he is dead, Achilles pierces Hector's ankles, and ties him to his chariot with a rope. He then drags Hector's body around the walls of Troy before riding back to the Greeks with Hector's body behind. Once there, he leaves Hector's body in the open so that "not a man came forward that did not stab his body,/glancing toward a comrade, laughing… (Book XXII 438-439)". Not only does he disgrace the sovereignty of Troy, and its promising heir, but leaves Hector's body unprotected, and uncovered once he is done parading him back to the Greeks.
Achilles' disrespect of Hector's remains surpasses that of physical exploitation. "Then he'd yoke his racing team to the chariot-harness,/Lash the corpse of hector behind the car for dragging /And haul him three times round the dead Patroclus' tomb,/And then he's rest gain in his tents and leave the body/Sprawled facedown in the dust. (Book XXIV 17-21)" He shames the position Hector should have assumed as Troy's next king by using him as a show of his power, and a way to grieve his lost friend.
There is no question, Achilles' treatment of Hector's body was unacceptable. But he was not Achilles, the Greek soldier fighting Hector, the Trojan soldier. He was Achilles fighting Hector. There were no flags, no back up, and only one winner. Achilles fought for a life already lost. Hector fought for a life he was sure he'd lose. Regardless of how it turned out, Hector's death alone would not have fulfilled Achilles' driving motivation. Hector's death would have made it even, and that would not have soothed Achilles' anger.
Hector died as Patroclus died. Once his body remained, Achilles simply kept it, ad harmed it, out of a felt obligation to his friend. While Achilles' conduct was unbecoming, it was unbecoming of a human, and has little to do with the standards of a knight. A knight does not run away, yet Hector did. A knight does not beg agreement, as Hector did. Achilles told Hector that he would not agree to anything. Perhaps Achilles' honesty was the most becoming conduct of all. Between nature of action, and motivation, Achilles' drive was the purest.
Return to