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Homer's The Illiad - Hector As The Epic Hero

Uploaded by English_Honors02 on Jan 13, 2002

In Homer’s The Iliad there appears to be some controversy over who the true epic hero might be. We have heard many arguments supporting Achilles as the Epic Hero, and since The Iliad does indeed say “The Story of Achilles” I believe that Achilles is an easy character for people to associate as the epic hero. Although many people have cited Achilles as having superhuman strength and various other physical attributes, he appears to be lacking the qualities of a real Homeric Epic Hero. A Homeric Epic Hero must demonstrate all of the following three requirements in order for them to truly be considered an Epic Hero. A character must believe that men have to stand together in battle; men had to respect each other; and they had to refrain from excessive cruelty. This last condition was considered to be critically important for the Epic Hero. A true Epic Hero loathed deliberate acts of cruelty, defamation, and injustice. An Epic Hero believed that if they were to kill an opponent it must be done quickly. There was to be no mutilation of any kind because it reflected poorly upon the victor and the victor’s community. In the following paragraphs you will see how Achilles breaks all three rules/requirements of an epic hero, and upon doing so relinquishes any right he has to be called an Epic Hero.

The first requirement of an Epic Hero is that he believes that men should stand together in battle. Achilles is a great warrior with superhuman strength, but when Briseis, Achilles war prize, is stripped from him by Agamemnon he proceeds to throw a temper tantrum. Achilles cares no more about standing alongside his fellow Greek warriors because he has been disrespected by Agamemnon. Homer does an excellent job of making most readers sympathize with Achilles, until around book nine when Patroklos is killed in battle. It is not until nine books of brooding and pouting passed for Achilles to realize how selfish and immature he was behaving. Not until the death of his beloved companion, which he was an indirect cause of, does he decide to return to the battlefield. Even his intentions to return to the battlefield are not philanthropic in their nature. Achilles feels guilty about Patroklos’ death and wants to avenge his friend’s death more for personal reasons than anything else. Achilles feels that if he kills Hector, Patroklos’ death will...

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Uploaded by:   English_Honors02

Date:   01/13/2002

Category:   Literature

Length:   7 pages (1,557 words)

Views:   2732

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