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A Lesson About Humility and Pride in The Iliad

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Homer’s epic poem “The Iliad” has many different types of characters and theme. It focuses on two main characters, who are Achilles and Hector. These two characters have completely different personalities and little to no similarities other than them being great warriors. In this epic poem, these two characters are excellent heroic figures to Greek people of the time. Both of these characters show amazing strength and heroism as warriors in different ways. The Iliad gives us great insight into Greek culture and morals as it shows often what these people believed a hero was and can even show us what they believed to be right and wrong.

To start, Achilies’ major character flaw is that he is very prideful. Achilles is often overtaken by his emotions, unlike Hector. He tends to act on instinct and let his anger and pride take over his actions. He has high confidence and an instinctive behavior which makes him the most prideful. He shows how prideful he really is in Book 1 when he does a number of impulsive things and refuses to fight. In the book, Achilles gives up Apollo’s daughter and bickers with Agamemnon, The Athaean commander. Achilles gives back his war prizes and refuses to battle. During this argument, Achilles says,” Ha, and think of the name people would call me if I bowed and scraped every time you opened your mouth. Try that on somebody else, but not me. I’ll tell you this, and you can stick it in your gut.

I’m not going to put a fight an account of the girl. You, all of you, gave her to me and you can all take back. But anything else of mine in my black sailing ship you keep your goddamn hands off, you hear?” In this passionate statement, Achilles completely disregards the loss of the girl and defends his pride instead. He then refuses to fight for the Athaean commander to protect his pride, which lead to his fellow soldiers to start getting beaten badly until his return.

In contrast, Hector is the prince of Troy and the commander of the Trojan army. Hector is much less controlled by emotions and instinct and is a more logical level headed hero. He is also a lot more caution before he acts as he is more aware of the consequences. Hector understands his duty to his people and serves to protect them whereas Achilles goes against his commander. One example of Hector’s nature is when his brother Paris dueled against Menelaus. Menelaus, a Trojan soldier and Paris fight over Hellen, the most beautiful woman at the time. Hector saw this as irresponsible and immoral behavior.

Hector’s statement to Paris says,” Paris, you desperate, womanizing pretty boy! I wish you had never been born or had died unmarried. Better that than this disgrace before the troops. Can’t you just hear it, the long-haired Greeks chuckling and saying that our champion won. For good looks but come up short on offense and defense”. Hector thought that going up against such a strong opponent over this was almost foolish, and degrading as a prince and a role model. Hector’s honors self-respect and responsibility over prideful pleasures.

Despite them being very different characters, both Hector and Achillies make great warriors. Their heroism displayed in The Iliad is a great example of what the Greek people represented and valued as a civilization. Achilles and Hectors are great figures for Greek audiences. Achilles showed great heroism when he went back to battle to avenge his fallen friend Patroclus, who died by the hands of Hector. Achilles goes off to battle the Trojans and defeats Hector. He brings back Hector’s body and buries him. However, Hector shows his heroism in defending his city and his people. The gods told Hector that his city is going to attack and he prepares his army and people for an attack. But in the end, Hectors downfall came at the hands of Achilles. With the loss of their greatest warrior, the Trojans fell to the Athenians shortly after.

The epic poem The Iliad is a great poem about heroism, culture, and many other things that give us an insight to greel life. The main character differences are throughout the poem. This poem is a great epic that appealed to many Greek audiences and taught them a lesson about humility and pride.

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