Essay on Heroes in the Iliad

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Throughout The Iliad, the heroic characters make decisions based on a definite set of principles, which are referred to as the "code of honor." The heroic code that Homer presents to the reader is an underlying cause for many of the events that take place, but many of the characters have different perceptions of how highly the code should be regarded. Hektor, the greatest of the Trojan warriors, begins the poem as the model of a Homeric hero. His dedication and strict belief in the code of honor is illustrated many times throughout the course of The Iliad. An example of this is presented in book three of the poem, where Hektor reprimands Paris for refusing to fight. He says to Paris, "Surely now the flowing-haired Achains laugh …show more content…
You yourself would fight with another whom you saw anywhere hanging back from the hateful encounter," (6:327). Paris agrees that he has been dishonoring himself, and tells Hektor he will return with him to fight. Hektor then goes to find Andromache, who is standing by the walls outlining the battlefield with Astanax, their son.
When Andromache pleads with Hektor to stay home and cease fighting,
Hektor refuses, telling her that he would feel deep shame in front of the Trojans if he were to withdraw himself from the war. Hektor then tells Andromache that the thought of her being dragged off by the
Achains troubles him, but he is relieved by the knowledge that she will be looked at as "the wife of Hektor, who was ever the bravest fighter of the Trojans, breakers of horses, in the days when they fought about
Ilion," (6:460). This causes Andromache to shed tears. On the one hand, she understands Hektor's beliefs and deep sense of morality, but on the other feels it is just as honorable to stay home and care for one's family. This is a second place in which Hektor feels torn between two conflicting responsibilities. A character's social status was mainly based upon his performance in the battlefield. Achilleus is a tragic figure who believes strongly in social order, but questions the idea of fighting for glory. When Aias and Odysseus are sent by Agamemnon to plead with Achilleus' to fight for the Greeks, Achilleus denies them, saying "There