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The period in which the events in The Iliad took place were different
than the times of today. Back then, the most important aspect of life for a
person was to be a hero and to be remembered. One's pride would come
before everything else. In the present day, this concept would be thought
of as illogical or foolish. This is certainly true. But, that is how life
was in that time- peoples' beliefs were to be the death of them. Pride was
the downfall of all characters in Homer's epic poem, The Iliad.
Hectors fatal mistake was that he chose pride over his own well being
in the battle with Achilles. He could have taken safety within the walls of
Troy, or disappeared into a mass of his comrades, but Hector chose to stand
his ground and confront Achilles. "Ah for a young man all looks fine and
noble if he goes down in war...he lies there dead...but whatever death lays
bare, all wounds are marks of glory." If Hector had salvaged his pride
and retreated to safety, he would have lived to defend Troy. Therefore, the
possibility arises that he could have stopped the onslaught of the Acheans
altogether, and won the war for the Trojans. The result of Hectors pride
was his death and the betrayment of his fellow warriors and friends.
Another person within the Iliad whose pride was the downfall of his
character, was Patrocleus. Patrocleus was a great warrior, friend, and
asset to the Achiens. But, he made foolish choices on account of his pride.
For instance he chose to wear Achille's armor into battle when Achilles
refused to fight. This was only for his self-glorification. "...Once you have
beaten off the lethal fire, quick, come back to the ships-you must not
battle Hector!" After going into battle brandishing the armor, Patrocleus
becomes overzealous and places himself at the enemy's disposal. If
Patrocleus would have thought logically, and not acted on pride, he would
of remained alive.
In addition to Hector and Patrocleus, the main character in The Iliad
- Achilles, was also brought to ruin by his pride. For example, he was too
proud to fight in the war when Agamemnon took his woman.
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torn my honor from my hands, robbed me, lied to me...he'll never win me
over!" So, he sat and sulked when his fellow Acheans needed him most.
Achilles made another immoral resolution based on pride when he granted
Patrocleus the use of his armor. He thought that this would preserve his
egotism, but still allow him assist his companions. If Achilles would have
made his decision based upon sound reasoning, he would not have sent his
friend into danger, or create a downfall of his character.
Pride was the downfall of all characters in Homer's The Iliad. This
was proven through the actions of Hector, when he stood his ground against
Achilles; Patrocleus, when he asked to employ Achilles' armor; and through
Achilles, when he gave permission for Patrocleus use his armor. By studying
the Iliad and this period in time, we can learn from the mistakes of these
characters, and compose our choices based not upon some self-centered
rationalization, but to look at the whole picture, and arrive at a decision
that is right for everyone.