The Illiad

1.   Achilles and Hector were both considered the best warriors, as well as, indispensable among their fellow comrades and societies.  It seemed that Achilles motivation to fight  for the Achaeans was honor, but not just honor from men, but from gods, and this was more valued than his loyalty or friendship to his fellow Achaeans.  This interpretation can be observed when Odysseus and Ajax, two of the greatest heroes, and Achilles’ friends, along with Phoenix, Achilles mentor and a type of father from the time of his childhood, were sent by Agamemnon with many gifts to persuade Achilles to forgive Agamemnon’s offense against him and to come back to fight in the Trojan war.  Achilles rejected the offer, even when they attested to their friendship and to the mercy of the wives and children’s horrific future, if the Greeks were to lose the war against the Trojans:  “Show some generosity and some respect.  We have come under your roof, we few out of the entire army, trying hard to be the friends you care for most of all’ (215).  Achilles did have his own troops and ship, called the Myrmidons, and they followed him, even after leaving the Achaeans when Agamemnon took his “price’, Briseis.  Achilles valued the friendship of one young man, Patroclus, more than his own honor and pride.  For this reason, the death of Patroclus made him changed his mind and he went back to fight in the war.

Hector’s motivation to fight for the Trojans was his love for his father, the king Priam, for his brother, and his country.  His family and friends were more important to him than anything else.  This can be observed when his wife, Andromache, tried to persuade him in not fighting Achilles, but he told her that the thought of the Greeks coming and taking the women and making them slaves, and killing their children, was of more concern than his own death.

      Achilles killed Hector as an act of rage, because Hector killed his beloved friend Patroclus.  Hector thought he was killing Achilles, because Patroclus was wearing Achilles armor.  The relationship between each other is of vengeance, since Achilles also had killed many Trojans, including family members.

2.   Achilles rage is brought to balance when Hector’s father, the king Priam,  visited Achilles, unnoticed, with the help of a god.  Priam first kissed Achilles  hands and persuaded him  into    giving him Hector’s body.   Priam accomplished this by making  Achilles remembered how many sons and cousins Achilles had killed in war, that  it was no different than Hector’s killing his friend.    Priam also made Achilles remembered his father, that was not suffering the same way he was, because at least, his father can have the hope of seeing him again.  The courage and words of the old man made  Achilles have mercy and pity.    Achilles changed his mind, and gave Hector’s body to Priam, but before he did  this, he made the servants washed the body and wrapped it in fine tunics for respect.  At this point, Achilles realized that the feeling he felt when Patroclus was killed was the same feeling that he caused to others, all under the command of a tyrant king.  He also realized that what he was doing to this old man, he would not want anyone doing to his own father.  The thought of his father that is destined to be far away from him, and that he cannot help or be with, filled him with guilt.  He needed to free himself from this feeling, and by honoring Priam, it was an opportunity to do this.  Benevolence came to him as he felt guilty for his actions and as he shared the grief with this King.

3.   The codes should be evaluated from two perspectives, from the country that is invading the other country, and from the country that is being invaded by another country.  In the case of the Greeks, the invaders, the warrior code and the familial code are unable to be both true at the same time.  This is because the offspring and spouse are being put in danger for the win of the battle that brings them the feeling of honor.  For Achilles, honor is the pride of winning many battles, the feeling that the gods chose his life over someone else.  For this pride, he refused to fight next to his friend, Patroclus, which cost his friend’s life.  He refused to fight for the families of his friends and for patriotism.  To fight only based on the Warrior code is to fight for oneself.

If the country is the one being invaded, there is no many options to have, in this case Troy.  For example, if the Trojans had not fought the war, their families would still be in danger.  In this sense, the Trojans fought for both, their family’s lives and future, as well as their honor, being respected for the bravery and patriotism, and both codes were possible at the same time.  Hector stated this when he told his wife, that it was necessary for him to fight Achilles, to fight in war, because for him, the thought of his wife being sold as a slave or his child killed due to the Greeks conquering Troy, was the reason for his bravery. That is, for the Trojans, fighting the war became the responsibility for the lives of their offspring and their spouses.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *