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Critical Essay on Heroism in Homer's 'Iliad': Hector Vs. Achilles

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Before I begin to compare the heroism between Hector and Achilles and pick a winner, I want to talk about the difference between a hero and a superhero. A hero can be anyone. Any man without an eye, without an arm or even without a big brain can be a hero. Because being hero doesn't require physical strength, anyone can be a hero even after if he dies, but doesn't give up till his last breath. A hero is decided by his will power and mental strength. On the other hand, a superhero carries some certain powers that make him superior from the rests. Powers like immorality and seeing the future are characteristics of a superhero.

Now, if someone tells me to pick a side on a fight between a hero or a superhero, I'll surely pick the non-powered man's side because he knows that he's overpowered by the opposition, but still stands to fight. Between them, the war hero is the man without any superpowers.

In Homer’s ‘Iliad’, Hector and Achilles both are the two finest warriors of the time. Hector comes from the defendant land Troy and Achilles from the attacking land Greece. They both died in the battle of Troy. But both of them aren't heroes. I choose Hector as the hero of ‘Iliad’. There are some reasons behind this decision of mine.

Firstly, my decision was based on losing things. As I've mentioned earlier, Hector defends Troy and wants to keep their freedom unharmed. If he loses or Troy loses the battle, Hector loses several things. First of all, he loses his life, his men lose the war, countrymen lose their freedom, Paris and Helen die, and Troy becomes helpless and falls into the dust. On the other hand, Achilles has crossed the sea with an outnumbering warrior in compared to Troy's. He has nothing to lose but his life. On a battle ground, if there's anything to lose then that is a warrior's life. So, here we won't count life as a lose. So, Achilles is not losing anything, but Hector got everything on the edge of losing. Here Hector overpowers Achilles by his mental strength. A hero is always ready to serve, even though he has everything to lose.

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Secondly, my decision was based on the criterion of capabilities. Agamemnon and Achilles got the bigger amount of warriors and they had more than 3 leaders on their side. Among them, Achilles is a half God. He is the son of a Goddess and is immortal until someone hits in his heel. This makes Achilles a better and overpowered being than the humans. But from Troy, Hector is the only leader fighting against the mighty ones of Greece, especially Achilles, who is a half God and almost immortal. There is time when Achilles calls Hector for one-on-one battle and Hector comes for it knowing the fact that he's going to die because he knew about what the powers of Achilles has. This makes him Hector a far better and greater hero than Achilles. Because someone who is sure about his lose and go to the battlefield is obviously the better one, compared to someone who is overpowered and sure about his victory. So, in term of better capability, Achilles becomes a better warrior, but with a lower chance to win and still willingness for fighting makes Hector a hero.

Thirdly, my decision was based on the criterion of serving. When it comes to the question of serving the land, Hector has always served Troy. In the battle of Troy, Hector fought every day, whereas Achilles was kind of confused or angry and didn't fight for days. A hero is present on any call. This again makes Hector a hero.

Fourthly, my decision was based on the motives of their fight. For me, this is the best point to define who is a hero, Hector or Achilles. If one asks what Achilles and Hector are fighting for, the answer will be a bit dramatic. Because it clearly portrays Hector as a hero. Hector appears on the battlefield to ensure that Troy's freedom remains unharmed. A hero always thinks about his men, his countrymen. Whereas Achilles is there, why he himself does not know. This is the difference between a hero and a warrior.

And finally, my decision was based on the motive of death. Achilles and Hector both are the finest warriors of the time. They had a one-on-one battle and one of them had to die. Now who is dying for what? Achilles from Greece had his personal reason and anger to die for. Achilles wants to avenge Patroclus' death, whereas Hector has a far greater motive to die for. He was the prince of Troy and would be the king who wants to protect Troy's freedom and its men. A hero always thinks for others, and gives least priority to himself. Hector did it, but Achilles went on personal cause, which is certainly not a heroic nor a God-like act.

In conclusion, I declare Hector as the hero of 'Iliad'. He is not only a great warrior and prince, he is a far greater man compared to Achilles. His ethics and morals are too high compared to Achilles. Winning doesn't define heroism, heroism redefines winning. Between a common man like Hector and a superhero like Achilles, Hector will be the hero if there's a thousand battles to take place.

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Critical Essay on Heroism in Homer’s ‘Iliad’: Hector Vs. Achilles. (2023, September 19). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 4, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/critical-essay-on-heroism-in-homers-iliad-hector-vs-achilles/
“Critical Essay on Heroism in Homer’s ‘Iliad’: Hector Vs. Achilles.” Edubirdie, 19 Sept. 2023, edubirdie.com/examples/critical-essay-on-heroism-in-homers-iliad-hector-vs-achilles/
Critical Essay on Heroism in Homer’s ‘Iliad’: Hector Vs. Achilles. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/critical-essay-on-heroism-in-homers-iliad-hector-vs-achilles/> [Accessed 4 Mar. 2024].
Critical Essay on Heroism in Homer’s ‘Iliad’: Hector Vs. Achilles [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Sept 19 [cited 2024 Mar 4]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/critical-essay-on-heroism-in-homers-iliad-hector-vs-achilles/
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