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Theme of Heroism in Homer's ‘The Iliad’: Critical Essay

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In ‘The Iliad’, Homer explained that various characters displayed traits of heroism. A hero is a person who puts their life up for the greater good of other people. They also, could be a person who you would look up to as role model for yourself. The characteristics that various gods displayed in ‘The Iliad’ by Homer were honor and pride. These characteristics were displayed through the characters of Hector and Achilles. It is important for heroes to have these very strong characteristics to show they deserve to be truly called a ‘hero’. The term ‘hero’ is a very deserving term that has to be proven and those two characters displayed elite status to receive the title of a ‘hero’.

In ‘The Iliad’, both Hector and Achilles both displayed honor in various ways. In Book 6, Hector emphasizes the things that will be said about himself and about Ajax the Great that displayed in honor. Homer states: “First they fought with heart-devouring, then they parted, bound by pacts of friendship” (Homer, Book 6, Line 344-348). It shows that they will be recognized by the exchange of gifts for their duties in the war. Their honor and determination led them to be rewarded for their duties, which bought joy to others. In Book 1, Achilles emphasizes the point of honor after Agamemnon insults his honor in relation to Agamemnon’s thoughts of the women by stating: “I am minded no longer to stay here dishonored and pile up your wealth and luxury” (Homer, Book 1, Line 170). This quote explains that he left the main camp to save his glory, which then leads him to save his honor off the battlefield. In ‘The Iliad’ by Homer, heroism is displayed within Achilles and Hector through their distinguished honor.

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Pride was displayed by both characters Achilles and Hector within Homer’s poem. In Book 1, Achilles pride was tampered by Agamemnon due him having his prize taken from him which was a woman. Homer states: “‘...And now my prize you threaten in person to strip from me...’ Achilles decides” (Homer, Book 1, Line 169-170). This quote explains that situation then led to him replacing the women with Briseis. Due to him replacing the prize with Briseis he was very upset, which affected his pride since the entire situation occurred in front of the other warriors. In Book 22, Hector’s pride is very high and mighty. He then listens to the advice, which then leads him to be in a very bad situation. Homer states: “I would not obey him, but that would have been far better. Now, since by my own recklessness I have ruined my people, I feel shame before the Trojans and the Trojan women with trailing robes, that someone who is less of a man than I will say of me: ‘Hector believed in his own strength and ruined his people”” (Homer, Book 22, Line 102-107). This also leads him to being afraid of being told ‘I told you so’ by Polydomous and ruined his spirit. Both characters show all the elements of what can occur when your pride is tested, you just must know how to handle things, which will then show how much of a true hero you are.

In ‘The Iliad’ by Homer, heroism is a constant theme that occurs. The characteristics that are shown by Hector and Achilles are honor and pride. To show you are truly a hero, you need to show characteristics that stand out from normal personality traits. The term ‘hero’ is used to describe a person or people with very strong leadership traits. Within Homer’s poem, both Achilles and Hector showed that they are the true definitions of what a hero entails.

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Theme of Heroism in Homer’s ‘The Iliad’: Critical Essay. (2023, September 19). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 21, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/theme-of-heroism-in-homers-the-iliad-critical-essay/
“Theme of Heroism in Homer’s ‘The Iliad’: Critical Essay.” Edubirdie, 19 Sept. 2023, edubirdie.com/examples/theme-of-heroism-in-homers-the-iliad-critical-essay/
Theme of Heroism in Homer’s ‘The Iliad’: Critical Essay. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/theme-of-heroism-in-homers-the-iliad-critical-essay/> [Accessed 21 Feb. 2024].
Theme of Heroism in Homer’s ‘The Iliad’: Critical Essay [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Sept 19 [cited 2024 Feb 21]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/theme-of-heroism-in-homers-the-iliad-critical-essay/
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