1. Hector’s relationship with his fellow Trojan’s seems to be the Greek model of the selfless soldier. His men respect him, he has a family that the people also speak highly of, and he fights for his country even in the face of sure death. This is not necessarily the Greek ideal of a man, though. I wonder if Achilles’s relationship with his fellow Achaeans, though less amiable than Hector with his Trojans, is closer to ideal. Hector strives for Victory but very little for Honor. Achilles, on the other hand, is willing to sacrifice Victory for the sake of Honor and his relationship with the Achaeans is one of a more intense rivalry than even perhaps his rivalry with Hector. This brings me to the main similarity between the two heroes. They are both described as the strongest and well-respected among their respective groups of soldiers. In some ways it makes perfect sense that they would end up fighting one on one.
2. After leaving the battlefield, Achilles is confronted by Priam, Hector’s father. Priam entreats Achilles to think of his own father and friends. During this scene, Achilles is probably reminded of his friend Patroclus, whose death was the catalyst for his berserk episode. Having already secured a significant Victory, Achilles’s lust for Honor seems to be cooling off. Perhaps this is an example of Tim O’brien’s view on war. “At its core, war is just another name for death, and yet any soldier will tell you, if he tells the truth, that proximity to death brings with it a corresponding proximity to life.” Achilles, after spending a long time staying out of battle, sacrificing Victory in pursuit of Honor, is suddenly thrust into battle, his friend dies, he slays the most important enemy he possibly could have and grossly defiled his body. How could he not feel closer to the human side of war after experiencing the opposing extreme, the completely animal, base side? He is so close to death that when Priam calls him to examine his closeness to life, he realizes that human kindness is within his reach as well. The significance of his following act is great – it shows an interest in the story for something beyond Victory and Honor. It shows a reverence for the human values of empathy and respect.
3. The Warrior Code and the Familial Code are not mutually exclusive – in theory. The ideal situation would be a man that pursues Victory and Honor effectively enough to return home and care for his offspring and spouse. Hector and Achilles are both supposedly searching for that ideal, yet in the face of the realities of war, the two codes are much more difficult to reconcile. In some ways, each characters inability to balance the two codes is a major part of their own downfalls.
Achilles has been unable to make much progress towards having a family to honor with the Familial Code and seems to be a little bit unhinged because of it. His rampant lack of empathy for other soldiers contributes to his tunnel-vision of Honor. He needs a family to care about and offspring to fight for to help him balance his thirst for Victory and Honor; he needs to care as much about returning victorious and alive as he does about returning rich and well-respected. But he does not for a significant part of the story.
Hector, on the other hand, is fueled but also distracted by his dogmatic adherence to the Familial Code. His family calling to him, witnessing his climactic battle with Achilles and subsequent death, had to have been a distraction. I believe that the epic is showing that caring only about his family and not having an equal drive to gain Honor and Victory for his own and their well-being was part of his downfall. The codes are not mutually exclusive but rather two sides of a scale that when unbalanced, brings down the mightiest of men.