Tag Archives: Iliad


1.The Iliad’s characters’ Achilles and Hector provide a lot of material to compare and contrast in the context of their relationships with their communities of origin. Achilles being made of part supernatural being and part human immediately puts him in a place of reverence for his fellow Achaeans. That reverence isn’t necessarily due to his virtue or values or social worth but much more because of his physical ability and protective capabilities. His nobility stems from something he didn’t create, instead he was created as this great and strong thing which creates respect in terms of his people but the sort of respect that comes from fear rather than love. Hector was also born into his nobility but then also embodies his place among his people in a virtuous way. His love for fellow Trojans and theirs for him by contrast comes more from love than fear. I think this dynamic plays out in the character’s battles and the storyline, especially in regards to Achilles barbaric behavior following Hector’s death being just that, barbaric and without virtue.

2.The excerpt by Tim O’Brien in this week’s reading speaks of a sort of white out of all known truth and reality during wartime, a situation in which battle and bloodshed cease to be seen as atrocious and instead must be seen in this way that lives outside of whatever societal context the warrior is coming from. The reading also speaks of a waking up to these things later, after battle, and remembering incidences as what they might be within one’s societal context after they have occurred. Achilles is begged by the mourning father of Hector to have a chance to do for Hector what the Trojans would rightly do in terms of burial and respect for the dead. This is what allows Achilles to come back into the world, back into reality and back into balance after his episode of blind and barbaric absurdity. This is significant because I think it represents that awakening that O’Brien writes about in the excerpt from The Things They Carried. Since, in battle, there is this disconnection from what is real and true or maybe that truth and reality do not even exist in battle, at some point humanity must be restored. Recovery and civility must return, and I think that’s what this part of the story may represent.

3.I truly think that these two codes are both mutually exclusive and also cannot be. I think that’s why war is a horrible, awful thing. Think of every scene from the last 12 or 13 years of soldiers leaving and of their return, leaving and returning to wives and parents and children and pets. They must go, the warrior code suggests that one must go into battle to defend his or her society’s way of life and right to peruse their own happiness while at the same time risking their own chance of participating in it. Hector knows this and feels that tug and does the only thing that is honorable in terms of where and when he lived. The same is true for countless soldiers we have all known or known of in our time. Going into battle and honoring the warrior code also serves to honor the familial code in terms of being able to provide income and health insurance and housing and in terms of protecting that very family. Honoring the familial code may also mean honoring the warrior code by the same logic in that protecting one’s society and family or country is serving the family. I don’t think these things are mutually exclusive, I think they are almost unbearably overlapping which is a really sad thing about Hector’s story.

The Iliad

  • 1.What are differences and similarities between Achilles’s relationship with his fellow Achaeans and Hector’s relationship with his fellow Trojans? Outline not only how these two warriors relate to those around them but to each other.

Hector and Achilles were both the leaders, Hector was the leader of the Trojan war and Achilles the leader  of the Myrmidons. The men are looked upon as great leaders, Achilles is looked at as a god and Hector a prince that leads his country. Both men made mistakes  during the war, and also miss being in the war themselves. The big difference between Achilles and Hector was what they were fighting for, Achilles was fighting to show that he was a hero, to show that he was the best. Where as Hector was fighting for his nation and his family and had a better moral judgement.

  • 2. The excerpt from Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried gives context for those of you who have not been in battle. It speaks to the breaking down of all known boundaries, such as good and evil, that occurs in war. Achilles breaks the Greek standard and religious observance of respect for the dead by dragging Hector’s body around. Even though Hector is his enemy, his acts would have been seen by a B.C. Greek soldier as sacrilege. What is it that brings Achilles back to balance after his berserk episode, and what significance can this transformation have, what does it communicate?

I believe that it was seeing Hector’s father that brought Achilles back to balance, he realises that everyone has lost during this battle and everyone is suffering not just himself. Seeing Priams suffering and weakness when asked for a proper burial helped bring Achilles morals and compassion come back.

  • 3. Achilles spends the first 18 books of the epic Refusing the Call. He even refuses the Embassy’s offer, a scene in which he proclaims an interest in a domestic life. This proclamation is interesting when compared to the circumstances of Hector in Book 22 when, as we he waits for Achilles to arrive for the final battle he knows he will ever fight, his father Priam and his mother Hecuba call to him from the gates of Troy. This scenes speaks to the inner-tug these warriors feel between two distinct codes of behavior: 1. The Warrior Code and 2. The Familial Code. The first code is dependent upon Honor and and Victory; the second on responsibility for offspring and spouse. Are these two codes mutually exclusive? Why or why not?

I believe that the Warrior Code and the Familial code are not mutually exclusive. Hector was able to show that he had a balance of both codes, wanting to fight but yet loved his family very much and wanted to protect them. Whereas Achilles only had the Warrior code in mind, fighting and winning was his only passion.