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Ancient Hector vs. Achilles: Who Is Better?

Why is Hector Better

Hector is the leader of the Trojan army, the son of Priam. Hector, like Achilles, is guided by military honor in his actions. At the same time, Hector realizes that he has a great responsibility to the people and must protect their interests. Homer shows how two aspirations are fighting in the hero’s soul – to preserve his reputation as a brave warrior, not tarnish his honor and avoid defeat in the war (Homer. 1898, XII, 243). Because of this, the image of Hector is more complex than the image of Achilles. Hector’s behavior is often contradictory since the motives of the hero’s actions are either the thirst for glory typical of an epic hero or the understanding of his duty to the people and the motherland.

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As a leader, as the son of a king, Hector understands that he has no right to sacrifice the people in pursuit of the reputation of a brave and invincible warrior. Rejecting the advice of Polydomous, an experienced military commander, who, citing a bad omen, dissuades Hector from attacking the Achaeans, Hector declares that the best sign is to fight bravely for the fatherland (Homer. 1898, XXII, 99-130). When Hector is persuaded to avoid a duel with Achilles, not to stay on the battlefield and return to Troy, Hector does not act as a cautious and wise leader but as an ambitious warrior driven by a thirst for glory. Hector’s pride does not allow him to seek protection outside the city’s walls. He, anticipating his death, even realizing that his death will entail the fall of Troy, neglects the interests of his people and engages in battle with Achilles (Homer. 1898, VI, 548). He knows the feeling of fear, but he has learned to be a fearless warrior.

With sadness in his heart, Hector leaves his family – parents, wife, son, because he is faithful to his duty – to protect Troy. Hector is deprived of the help of the gods and further becomes convinced of their betrayal and treachery and utters words full of courage and despair at the same time (Homer. 1898, XXII, 297–305). The hero is distinguished by humanity; he never blames Elena, forgives his brother, and does not hate them, even though they were the perpetrators of the war. There is neither superiority nor contempt in Hector’s words. He addresses Achilles as an equal to an equal, showing complete disregard for the enemy.

Why is Achilles Better

Achilles is one of the most complex figures of ancient literature. Achilles is one of the heroes of Homer’s poem The Iliad, an implacable, stern warrior. In response to the insult Agamemnon inflicted on him, the supreme leader of the Achaean army that besieged Troy for ten years, Achilles refuses to participate in the war. The Achaeans suffer defeats because of this. However, when Hector, the leader of the Trojans, kills Patroclus, Achilles’ friend (Homer. 1898, XVIII, 65-144). Achilles forgets about the offense and goes to reconciliation with Agamemnon. Achilles, whose patroness is the goddess Athena herself, shows miracles of bravery in battle and defeats Hector in a duel.

The image of Achilles has typical features of a mythological epic hero. Achilles is a courageous warrior; in his system of values, the main thing is military honor. Hot-tempered, proud, proud, Achilles participates in the war not so much to return Menelaus, the king of Sparta, his wife Elena, who was kidnapped by Paris, as for the sake of glorifying his name. Achilles is eager for new feats, thanks to which he will be able to consolidate his fame as an invincible warrior.

Achilles’ action here is “anger” against the abuser. In the hero, there is a colossal destructive force, thirst for blood, revenge, and cruelty from the very beginning. However, the meaning of this blood and this atrocity lies in friendship with Patroclus – it is because of him that this massacre is being started (Homer. 1898, XVIII, 22–27). The image of Achilles is ambiguous; on the one hand, he is hot-tempered, angry, vindictive, cruel in war. At the same time, he has soft, gentle features. Achilles is pious, often turns to the gods. He is reserved when dealing with the messengers of Agamemnon. Achilles is a loving son who often turns to his mother. And this inconsistency is the most characteristic feature of the hero of Homer’s poem. Achilles is a tough fighter while having a tender heart. In the hero’s experience, the dictates of fate and his own raging life coincide. The hero of the poem knows that he will not return from under Troy, but he undertakes this dangerous campaign despite this (Homer. 1898, XIX, 420). Achilles is a favorite of the gods; the hero’s courage is boundless.

At the same time, impatient and uncontrollable in anger. Achilles is extremely sensitive in matters of honor. He goes to fight with Hector, obsessed with a thirst for revenge, and after the victory, blinded by anger, mocks the body of the deceased opponent. At the same time, he misses his friend Patroclus, sympathizes with Hector’s father (Homer. 1898, XXIV 580–590). In the heart of Achilles, there is a spiritual confrontation between revenge and nobility.

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Which of Them is Better in my Opinion

The image of Hector evokes more sympathy because he is more human and natural. Many doubts and conflicts inside this person lead him to death. Hector is a real hero, for whom honor and valor are not empty words but actual deeds. He is not afraid to admit his own mistakes and knows how to forgive them to others. His death was worthy, and in battle, he treated his opponent as an equal, as a warrior. In many works, it is often precisely such heroes who are destined to die at the end. Inner sympathy and understanding of actions cannot but attract attention to Hector.

Reference

Homer. 1898. The Iliada. Translated and edited by Samuel Butler. Web.

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