In Homers Essentials, the passage clearly demonstrates the why a hero makes the decisions he does, and why after he is called a hero. Honor and glory are essential to Greek heroes. Heroes live their lives according to honor and glory, in any situation. Honor and glory is the reason why the Trojan War started, when Helen was taken from Menelaus it was the taking of his honor that lead to the death of numerous Greek soldiers. The aim of the heroes is the fame that stays long after their death, and they let nothing stop them from achieving it. The honor of the person, family, and community guide each action of the hero. Glory and honor define the hero, and is the main focus of everything that is stated in the Homer’s Iliad. What these hero’s sacrifice to live or die in glory also adds to their honor. The perception of honor and glory is important to understand what motivates the heroes in Homer’s Iliad to make them act the way they do.
Glory is achieved by great deeds and heroic actions and is given by others who witness and approve of the glorious actions. War provides a chance for many to find glory, like a boxing week sale in Christmas, it is the soldier’s chance to get as much of glory he can before the sale is over. Honor is a little different than glory; each hero has their own sense of personal honor which does not always agree with the public’s thinking.
Glory and honor are important to the heroes because authority and status is not fixed and can be destroyed by one simple action of cowardice. Power and authority were not simply inherited, but gained through honorable and esteemed actions. The leaders and heroes need people under them to co-operate by their own will, and can only achieve that with respect and honor. Status could always be gained and lost, and it was very crucial to protect your honor while looking for more. Honor is gained by bravery and heroism in battle, loyalty and other righteous qualities that a person might show through his actions. Having glory and honor allow a Greek to gain power, authority, and persuade people in the society and never be forgotten.
Hector demonstrates all the qualities of a true hero. As a father, a great fighter, and son of a king, he tries his best to keep peace and honor with all that he possesses equally in the situation that he is put in. Hector says, “Yes, Andromache, I worry about all this myself (il.6.463)”, he understands what is going to happen to his family when he leaves and tries to comfort her by saying, “All that pain is nothing what I will feel for you (il.6.477)”, Hector being in this sophisticated position of a father and the best fighter of Troy has already decided his fate, by making the best decision to fight in the first ranks.
Hector recognizes what his wife will go through when he dies, showing his soft side. After all he is a father and the reason he is going to war is to protect everything he has, his glory, his honor, his fathers name, his city, his wife, and his child from this fate. Although he knows troy will fall, “Deep in my heart I know too wellâ€¦when Ilion will perish (il.6.470)” he still tries to make the best of it by giving Andromache strength to carry on when he is dead because he has no other choice but to fight to his death.
Another heroic quality of Hector is the fact that he cannot tolerate to be called a coward, “But my shame before the Trojans and their wivesâ€¦hung back from battle like a coward (il.6.466)”. Hector knows that staying back in the comfort of home is worse than death itself. A hero such as Hector cannot bear to be remembered as a coward. Hector also declares to Andromache that his heart wont let him stay behind the walls of troy “and my heart wont let me (il.6.467)”, illustrating that honor and glory has become a part of him to such an extent that he will by no means sit back on this war, and destroy his honor.
His brother Paris, on the other hand, the cause of the war, speaks to Hector who says, “You’re a strong fighter, but you slack-offâ€¦It breaks my heart to hear what the Trojans say about you (Il.6.551-53)”. Hector cannot tolerate that his brother is being called bad things, when Paris himself does not care as much. This shows how loyal Hector is towards the code of conduct. Paris wants to stay home and grieve rather than join the war outside the walls. Hector has to scold him to get him to fight the battle that he started. Helen, who regrets leaving Sparta with Paris and starting a bloody war, dislikes Paris’s behavior, and is charmed of Hector’s courage and heroism-like nature. Regardless of his own honor, Hector is embarrassed of his brothers’ weakness for the dishonor that it brings on their family name. Hector being a hero cannot tolerate any disgrace on his family name even if the cause is his own brother.
Hector also provides a good example of family honor. Hector is certainly respected, as he “learned to be one of the best, to fight in Troy’s first ranks, defending my father’s honor and my own (il.6.469)”. A hero takes action based on what the people will think of him and his family, as Hector says to his wife, “And someone seeing you crying, will say, ‘That is the wife of Hector, the best of all the Trojans when they fought around the Ilion’ (il.6.483-84)”. Hector takes severe precaution not to show any sign of cowardice or this will affect his father’s honor and ruin his family name. The importance of retrieving the body and burial, for Hector, shows that honor, respect and fame continue after death in the Greek’s perception, and therefore the hardships in life to achieve honor and glory is worth it, which is crucial to a Hero’s way of living.
Hector demonstrates his heroism when he is on the brink of death when talking to Achilles saying, “I beg you , Achilles, by your own soulâ€¦and send my body back home(Il.22.375-80)”, although he is dying he speaks to Achilles with care and not in anger to return his body to his parents and follow the unwritten laws of the gods, “I’m not running anymore, Achillesâ€¦ but first we should swear a solemn oathâ€¦I will not dishonor your corpseâ€¦Promise you’ll do the same(il.22.277-85)”. Hector shows his loyalty to his opponent’s (Achilles) honor disregarding the fact that he killed many of his brothers and is going to kill him. A hero is always striving to follow the code of conduct in any situation that may arise.
Hector is a true hero as he prioritizes his duties as a hero, a father, a prince, and a son. He knows that if he doesn’t fight he will have to see his city fall, brothers die, see his wife become a slave and be called a coward which all goes against the conduct of a hero. He makes the right choice by fighting to give the Trojans a chance to win, to gain honor for his family name and to achieve self-glory and so that he doesn’t need to see his wife get dragged away and hear her cries, “But may I be deadâ€¦before I hear your cry as you are dragged away (il.6.490)”. In contrast of a stereotypical stubborn Greek hero, Hector shows emotion and is moderate through-out his life, never in excess. He shows love to his family and city by fighting, because he has no other choice. A true hero lives life according to honor and glory, in all forms that life has to offer. Hector keeps peace and honor with all that he possesses equally and dies an in evitable honorable and glorious death and is remembered today as the Hero of Troy.
Honor and glory was at the core of Greek civilization in Hector’s time, as the
Greeks recognized that honor and glory last much longer than a person’s life. The hunt and protection of these honorable qualities in all forms and situations was the driving force behind everything the Greek heroes did. Glory and honor made it reasonable to go to battle, to fight with warriors, to lose many friends and comrades and to be away from home and family for years. For all heroes, honor and glory was life and their future and what makes them heroes.
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