We first meet Hector when he is already on the battlefield and he is encouraging his brother Paris after he challenged great Greek warrior, Menelaus. Hector shows that he is an honorable man, and that fleeing and not fighting is not a way of a real Trojan hero. Paris’ brother tells him “…Would to god you’d never been born, died unwed. That’s all I’d ask.” he continues saying “Better that way by far than to have u strutting here, an outrage- a mockery in the eyes of all our enemies…”(3.44-49) Hector tells Paris that he should act like a prince, and he should be more honorable because he is the reason of the whole Trojan war. Hector calls him a coward and tells him that “…years ago they’d have decked you out in a suit of rocky armor, stoned you to death for all the wrongs you’ve done!”(3.66-68)
With these words, Hector convinced his brother and Paris decided to fight Menelaus. In this first instance when we first meet Hector, we see that above anything, honor is the most important thing to him and he will not let his brother act in a dishonorable and bring disgrace to himself and the whole family. Later in the book we continue to see that Hector is a heroic person and that he values glory over his own life. He is not afraid of death and he hopes that one day, in the future, people will still talk about him, just like they did about other heroes. In his speech on the battlefield, when he talked to both sides, he hopes that one day people will be able to say about him that “…There’s the mound of a man who died in the old days, one of the brave whom glorious Hector killed.” and continues that “… someday, and my fame will never die.”(7.103-105)
These words are a great example of how Ancient Greeks and Trojans thought and how they valued eternal glory over everything else. But later in the book we are also introduced to a different side of Hector. His fear of death. He knows that he might die and that motivates him to fight, but later we see that he does not want to die. After a fight with Ajax, from which he retreated, in his conversation with deadly Archer, Apollo, he says “… Ajax struck me down with a boulder… he took the fight right out of me… I thought I’d breathed my last”(15.296-302) This shows us that he is afraid of death. In the face of death he acted just like his brother Paris before. He acted in the same way right before his death. In the book 22 “Hector looked up, saw him(Achilles), started to tremble, nerve gone, he could hold his ground no longer, he left the gates behind him and away he fled in fear”(22.162-164)
He acted in a dishonorable, not heroic and disgraceful way. Although these two times, he is still considered a hero and he is a good example of what the Homer, just as all the Ancient Greeks, considered to be heroic.
The only person that was not afraid of death was Achilles, the greatest Greek warrior. Achilles was half human and half god. He is truly what a god should be according to the Ancient Greek’s view on how a real god should act. Achilles, the great runner, is a very selfish person who only cares about his honor and glory. We meet him right away in the first book and all the way up until the middle of the book he is not fighting because of his honor. The great king Agamemnon took one of the slave girls and by this action insulted great warrior Achilles, he said that “You Achaeans gave her, now you’ve snatched her back. But all the rest i possess beside my fast black ship- not one bit of you can seize against my will, Atrides”, he then even threatens them saying “Come, try it! So the men can see, that instant, your black blood gush and spurt around my spear.”(1.352-355).
After these words Achilles got mad and decided not to get involved into the fights with Trojans. Achilles knew that if he did not get involved, the whole Greek army would fail and most of the Greeks would die. He did not care. All that he cared about was his honor and his eternal glory. In Ancient Greece, those were the most important heroic values, and because of that he was considered god-like. Achilles would protect his honor above almost anything, he almost killed Agamemnon. If it was not for the Athena’s intervention who told him “Down from the skies I come to check your rage… one day glittering gifts will lie before you, three times over to pay for all his(Agamemnon) outrage. Hold back now.
Obey us both.”(1.242-250), this calmed Achilles down because he would not dare to fight the Athena’s orders. The greatest Greek Warrior knows that with him, the conquer of Troy would not be a difficult task but because of Agamemnon’s arrogant and disrespectful acts he is not going to help the Greeks. In the book 9, Agamemnon tries to convince Achilles to come back and fight by offering him “Splendid gifts… seven tripods never touched by fire, ten bards of gold, twenty burnished cauldrons, a dozen massive stallions, racers who earned me trophies with their speeds…” he goes on, and even offers his own daughter saying that “he(Achilles) will be mine son-by-marriage!”(9.145-170), but he says no. But after all, Achilles does come back to the fight, but only because of his personal reason. His friend, and his right-hand Patroclus dies, and Hector is the one that has Patroclus’ blood on his hands. Because of this Achilles seeks to avenge his beloved friend. He only fights with Hector because of his anger and his selfish, personal reasons which in the Ancient Greece were considered to be heroic, because it made Achilles a cruel and simple man.
Achilles from the beginning knew that if he joined the battle, he would die at the end. He knew the prophecy but he also knew that if he fought Hector and take the Troy, he would accomplish what every real Greek hero desire, the immortal glory. He did not care about his death, just like the Greeks, he only cared about his name. In the Book 22, we can see a contrast between the greatest Greek hero and the greatest Trojan hero. When the two of them fight, the Trojan hero is afraid of death. Achilles on the other hand is proud and he never even considers that he might fail. He knows that this is his time, and that people will talk about it in the future. When Achilles “went for him, fast, sure of his speed as the wild mountain hawk, the quickest thing on wings”(22.165-166)
Hector was running away just like his coward-brother. Although Achilles is very vindictive person which we can see when right after he killed Hector he says laughing at his dead body “Ah, look here- how much softer he is to handle now”(22. 439-440), and when “…he knotted straps of rawhide through them both(feet), lashed them to his chariot… so his whole head was dragged down in the dust”(22.464-477), at the end we can see that he is a good, hero-like person, when he lets Priam, Hector’s father, take his sons’ dead body home so he say goodbye to his son in a proper way. Achilles respects Hector and admits that Hector was a good warrior, and after Priam asks him for nine days to give a proper burial to Hector, Achilles without any hesitation replies to him saying “All will be done, old Priam, as you command. I will hold our attack as long as you require.”(24.787-788) This shows that at the end, Achilles is truly the greatest hero, and in all ways he is what a Ancient Greek would consider a heroic person.