Week 3 Iliad, the hero’s controversy

  1. Achilles is a very proud and brave warrior, but because of personal problems and character flaws he turns his back on his fellow Achaeans, and the Achaean army is crippled. He is mainly fueled by glory and thus his fellow Trojans fall by the wayside, even earning Achilles wrath as he wishes them dead by the Trojans. Hector on the other hand is a warrior unmatched by anyone except Achilles, his sensitivity and his loyalty to his homeland and family is much more protagonist-oriented than Achilles’ character. His bravery even in hopeless situations is commendable, and although Achilles and Hector are both great warriors, Achilles wins over him despite a more heroic fight on Hector’s side, and Achilles desecrates him in his death and violates his honor by dragging his corpse around by his heel, as he was blinded by revenge. In fact, as Hector dies valiantly, he teaches Achilles to mirror his values and this causes a character switch in Achilles (although not immediately). At least, that is my interpretation of the characters.
  2. There is a boundary between good and evil, but when it comes to war there are so many gray areas. There are beliefs that violence is necessary for peace, and more beliefs that violence is never the right course of action for peace. It is in these gray areas that it is socially acceptable to kill someone out of revenge, but no socially acceptable to drag their corpse disrespectfully through Troy. Achilles is violent and bloodthirsty, hungering for glory, so when he reaches the decision between a short glorious life at troy, or a long docile life in phthia, it is no surprise the short glory is more attractive to him, especially with the hopelessness of the death of his friend Patroclus. It is this change that exhibits the fundamental forces of change enforced with participation in war, and thus peace. Tim O’Brien’s short story is also illustrative of this phenomenon in humankind.

3. It seems that it is the theme of the hero’s story to find a balance between the familial responsibility, and glory in the call to adventure such as battle or journeys. In theory they could coexist, but to be truly dedicated to one requires full attention, although for part-gods like Hercules perhaps they can both be accomplished. Honor is certainly appreciated as part of family values, especially among characters of the iliad. And because I’m an optimist, I believe honor and victory can indeed be accomplished along with responsibility of a family, because if you do it just right then you could get the best of both worlds. Look at my example from last week, in “300,’ Leonidas is the bravest warrior in Sparta and answers every call beckoning him to adventure or bravery or loyalty for Sparta, and yet he also has a loving family that shares his ideals. His son, also a to-be warrior, sees only valiance in his fathers committal to battle, and his wife the queen is proud of his loyalty to Sparta, which in turn is loyalty to his family. However, he does end up dying so that part does not hold up the family responsibility end entirely. I guess if a hero dies valiantly than his martyred beliefs will live on in his family, and it is in this

1 thought on “Week 3 Iliad, the hero’s controversy

  1. swtrinchet

    I disagree that the Familial Code and the Warrior code can’t coexist. Isn’t the point of Leonidas that if he’d won, he would have been the perfect balance? How did pursuing one ruin the other?

    On the other hand I’m fascinated by the “if a hero dies valiantly than his martyred beliefs will live on in his family” because that makes sense. I hadn’t thought of that as a way that a man could fulfill both codes. Perhaps this is an argument for Hector from the Illiad as successfully fulfilling both?

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