The Iliad Herioc Code

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Kenneth Ballard
CLA 202: Classical Epic: Gods and Heroes
Paper #1

The heroic code in the Iliad is expressed by many characters throughout the book, whether it be through their actions, intentions, or teachings. The heroic code stems from the belief that honor is, above all, the most important virtue in life and all men must honor themselves, their families, and their fellow comrades through specific character traits and actions. This concept is the primary goal in a Homeric hero’s life. Specifically, courage in battle, even in the face of clear danger or death is an essential source of a man’s honor. Death, in the context of the heroic code, can be seen as a relief of the constant struggle these characters are up against in
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Hector, having the degree of honor that he does, says “All this weighs on my mind too, dear woman. But I would die of shame to face the men of Troy and the Trojan women trailing their long robes if I would shrink from battle now, a coward……I’ve learned to well. To stand up bravely, always to fight in the front ranks of Trojan soldiers, winning my father great glory, glory for myself.” (Homer, Iliad 6. 522-529) This is a great example of what Hector really stands for in terms of his honor. He talks about honoring himself, as well as his father and his people, which I mentioned before is another facet of being a true Homeric hero. He is willing to make his son fatherless and his wife without a husband, all in the name of glory and honor to his fellow soldiers and people of the Trojan empire. His statement is also a good contrast between the femininity of Andromache, with her desires for a husband to stay alive and be there for her and her son, while Hector desires glory and to be at the front ranks of the battle so he can be remembered and bring glory to himself and his family.

Another premium example where Hectors displays Homeric qualities occurs in book twenty two when Achilles, “the swift runner” is pursuing Hector in their final battle where it would all come to a gruesome end. Hector had already shown courgage and the bravery common to a Homeric Hero by being the
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