Saturday, March 27, 2010

Achilles vs. Hector in the Iliad

Achilles vs. Hector in the Iliad


In the Iliad, both Achilles, who fights for the Greeks and Hector, who fights for the Trojans display heroic characteristics and they try to win glory in battle. They each have certain strengths and weaknesses, which are evident at many times throughout the conflicts described in the Iliad. These two characters have obvious differences in their approaches to fitting the heroic mold to which they both try to conform. However, despite their differences and the fact that they are fighting for opposing armies and meet each other with hatred in battle, they also have numerous similar traits which logically lend themselves to a comparison between the two men.  


Achilles, a half god and a half beast, Achilles is the son of Thetes, a goddess who always extended her helping hand in her loving son Achilles at the time of his need. On the other hand, Hector is an ordinary man and his armour is not made by Vulcon.


Achilles has all the marks of a great warrior and indeed proved the mightiest man in the Achaean army, but his deep seated flaw of self pride and anger is constant. Homer addresses the anger of Achilles by saying -"Anger ring, goddess, the anger of Achilles …which brought the Greeks endless sufferings ". He is also very angry in his manner. At one point in the epic Achilles addressed Agamemnon in this way -"You drunkard, bitch eyed man; you have not the courage to fight, You know how to sponge upon others." Although he is a great warrior, his anger works as a flaw to his character.


On the contrary, Hector is very calm and quiet. At the end of the first day's battle when Hector returned to his city, at once the Trojan wives and daughters came running to him to enquire anxiously about their husband and fathers. He answers these questions calmly. And then he went to the palace and met his parents, wife and children,


Love for country

Hector is a true patriot. According to some critics he is more human than Achilles. He lover his country very much and he is ready to sacrifice his life for the interest of country people. He shows his deep love towards country through his refusal to take wine from his mother who tried to refresh her son with wine. Hector says -"No wine for me, my dear mother; You will cripple me and make me forget that I must fight ". Hector decided to fight for his country. And his decision is made difficult with Paris' lack of discipline as king with his episodes with his new wife Helen. This anger Hector, "Look, your people dying around the city, the steep walls, dying in arms -and all for you''


On the contrary, Achilles is very selfish as he would not take any care of his nation. He seems to only care about his own pride and selfish intentions. Though fighting for a noble cause he has proven himself to be a savage and a dishonorable warrior. For instance after losing Briseis, he decided not to part in the war through that was very imprudent for their country. Even in the extreme crisis moment of Greek force, he withdraws from the battle. Here we consider him a traitor while Hector is a patriot.



For Hector, war "is a necessary evil" in which he "fights bravely, but reluctantly"(Lawell  115). In contrast to Achilles, he longs for peace, and although he realizes that peace is not likely to return to Troy, "he thinks nostalgically of the peaceful part". Actually his involvement of war is motivated by his duty to protect his country and people.


On the other hand,"Achilles is a man who comes to live by and for violence "(lawell 115). When engages in fighting, "his attacks against the Trojans are unnecessarily brutal and pitiless", as he succumbs to a lust for vengeance. Achilles tells his troops one morning to go    to battle immediately. Odysseus mentions that the men should eat before going. Achilles becomes enraged by saying,"I have no test for food . . . What I really brave is slaughter and blood and the choking groans of men!" To Achilles, nothing is better than killing someone and seeing them suffer.


Hector is not only a leader, but can also follow and listen to others and is respectful of his superiors. He knows how to rally his men and them to want to fight. When his brother Paris  retreated de inside the city  walls , he told him ,"come , now for attack . . .if Zeus will ever let us raise the windenyl of freedom high in our halls ,high to the goes of cloud and sky who live forever.. . . . Once we drive these Argives geared for battle out of Troy "


On the other hand, Achilles lacks which is necessary in the creation of the epic character is leadership. His only digit for inopeld does not take orders from anyone. He does not pull his army together, hiding his rage


At the last portion we notice Achilles' keen rudeness and Hectors unparallel kindness. Hector proposes to Achilles to make a pact on the issue that each other will not torture his opponent's dead body if anybody dies in this encounter. Besides, Hector promises Achilles that he will give up his corpse to the Achaeans after taking his splendid armour. Then he asks Achilles whether he will do same for Hector. As Hector says -"Then I will give up you corpse to the Achaeans will you do the same for me ".


At this point Achilles expresses his anger by saying that it is foolish of Hector to try to make friendship with him as lion can't make friendship with human being. Then he says that there will be no truce of any sympathy till one of them had died. In a textual sense –''Hector you must be mad to talk to me baltu a pact . Lions don't come to with men ,nor does the wolf see eye to eye with the lamp ,they are enemies to the end . It is the same with you and me .friendship between up is impossible, and there will be no truce of any line till one of up has fallen and gluled the stubborn god of better with is blood." Achilles is the individual, acting on the basis of a personal code, with little concern for how his actions may affect the greatest community. Achilles follows his personal feelings, without regard for the consequences on the community at large. On the other hand; Hector sees his actions within the context of the overall community.


Hector is more human. He is not invincible, as his battle with Aias shows. He longs for peace, and he desperately fears the fowering rage of Achilles. In simple terms he is a human hero. Achilles, in many ways, lacks ordinary human feelings.


No comments: