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Characterization of Hector in Iliad

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            The Iliad of Homer, which gives a detailed account of the final years of the Trojan wars, has several characters.  But the story of the epic mainly focuses on two main characters, which will give the epic its main climax, i.e. Achilles and Hector. The Trojan hero Hector though not as mighty as Achilles has been compared with the Greek warrior in every other aspect.  The Iliad ends up on the tragic but heroic death of the Trojan hero, which became the sign of doom for the Trojans and eventually led to the fall of the great city of Troy.

This paper will discuss the characterization of the Trojan warrior Hector son of Priam Commander of Trojan forces. Hector can be characterized by the great deeds he has done during the war in which he has not only shown his might but also his honesty and loyalty to his people. He was a man of his words and kept his promises. Not only his closest friends and family members but also his enemies admitted his qualities.

Characterization of Hector in Iliad:

            Hector is characterized by what he does in the Iliad. Hector has proved himself as the most fierce and mighty warrior of the Trojan side. Personally he was annoyed by his brother Paris’s cowardice and rebuked him on his misdeeds and convinced him to fight a duel with Menelaus former husband of Helen. (Homer, Book III) He was not a great warrior but also a loving husband and caring father. His duty was always his priority unlike his brother Paris. When he was sent to Troy to request his mother and other ladies in the city of Troy to Pray to Gods in the temple, he first rushed to the house of Paris to rebuke again on his cowardice and indifference for the war and perishing countrymen.

But when Paris promised him to join the war he eagerly rushed to his own house to meet his wife and son. (Homer, Book VI) When Hector finds that war is proving to disastrous for his countrymen he himself challenges the Greek warriors and faces mighty Ajax in the duel though he himself is wounded in it. (Homer, Book VII) He shows his great strength and might when he kills Petroclus the dearest friend of Achilles. (Homer, Book XVI)

Hector has showed him self as a real man of honor as he refused to enter the city when his forces were destroyed by Achilles. He was the only Trojan to face him on the gates of Troy. Though when he finds that his opponent aided by Gods surpasses his might he runs for his life. He runs around the city three times when a God disguised in a Trojan warrior convinces him to fight face to face and is finally killed by Achilles. (Homer, Book XXII)

            Hector can also be characterized by what he says. Hector morally is ranked higher than Achilles who has nothing to do with war personally. He was just fighting for his country and people. His saying “Fight for your country — that is the first and only omen” (Homer, Book III) completely depicts his patriotism. Throughout the war Hector stands against the enemy until his fall, but he personally dislikes the war brought on his people. Reprimanding Paris he expressed his annoyance explicitly and called his brother Paris as evil-hearted, not a man of his word always craving and driven mad by women.

He blamed – Paris of bringing sorrow and dishonor to his people and country. He felt his shame in such a mocking way that he even wished that his brother had been dead. He said to Paris that he has given the chance to Achaeans to make fun of us because of his cowardice. He showed his responsibility and patriotism when his wife asked him to stay within the city gates fearing his death “Wife, I too have thought upon all this, but with what face should I look upon the Trojans, men or women, if I shirked battle like a coward? I cannot do so: I know nothing save to fight bravely in the forefront of the Trojan host and win renown alike for my father and myself.” (Homer, Book VI)

Again he shows that how much he cares about his people when he calls any Greek warrior for duel. He asked both the sides to consider his offer. He explained them that if the fighting continued, what ever the results may be, the consequences of the war will be disastrous. Either the Greeks will sack Troy and burn the city into ashes or the Trojans will annihilate all the Greeks and burn all their ships. So one of the Greek champions and warriors must fight a duel with him, and the winner will lead his side to a complete victory. (Homer, Book VII) In the end when he was nearly killed by the hands of Achilles, he asked him to let his body taken by his people to the funeral.

            Hector can also be characterized by what other people say about him. It is quite clear that even the Greeks admit the might and prowess of the Trojan warrior. In book one the annoyed and insulted Achilles decides to leave the Achaeans on the mercy of Great Hector to slay them and burn their ships, “In the day of your distress, when your men fall dying by the murderous hand of Hector, you shall not know how to help them, and shall rend your heart with rage for the hour when you offered insult to the bravest of the Achaeans.” In Book VII Agamemnon stops his brother facing Hector in duel. He said that he is no match to Hector and facing him in duel will be a foolish act as even the mighty Achilles does not dare to face Hector in his wrath. (Homer, Book VII)


            In conclusion we can say that Hector has shown some real glimpses of the Mediterranean life of that age as he was not only a patriotic soldier fighting for his country but also a man who loves his house hold as well. He stands again the most powerful forces in the end makes him the most tragic hero of the Iliad.



Works Cited

Homer, “English Translation of Iliad (Book I to XXIV)”, Retrieved from World Wide

Web on August 6, 2006; http://pd.sparknotes.com/lit/iliad/section2.html

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