The Iliad is an epic poem written by Homer, this poem was written in dactylic hexameters, which means it followed a particular rhyme scheme. The poem is all about honor and glory and how the chief characters fight for it, honor and glory also leads to the downfall of several important characters in the poem. This paper will shed light upon how chief characters suffer when they try their best to protect their honor and glory, the main emphasis of this paper will be on the characters of Achilles and Hector.
Honor and glory were two integral things in the lives of the Greek heroes; they were ready to kill and get killed to protect their honor and glory. Mass slaughter takes place in The Iliad; an epic war was triggered off just because of honor and glory. The Greek heroes always wanted to be immortal and there was just one way of doing it, sacrificing their lives in a war would make them immortal and this is exactly what they did.
Homer’s Iliad would become extremely difficult to understand without placing much emphasis on the theme of honor and glory. The deeds of Greek heroes gave them glory; they could achieve glory by doing great and unmatched deeds. Greek heroes strived for glory and the easiest way to get glory was to take part in a major battle, The Iliad presents several such fascinating battles and a lot of bloodshed took place in these battles. The masses watching these epic battles would honor the deeds of Greek warriors and this was how they managed to achieve both honor and glory. Greek warriors strived for honor and glory to have a stranglehold in the society in which they lived, having both honor and glory made them strong and heavily influential. Honor could also be achieved by being a good orator, speechmaking was incredibly popular back then and honor was bestowed upon the person who was really good at speechmaking. There was no fixed status in the Greek society this is why the Greek warriors strived for honor and glory. Achilles and Hector are arguably the two most important charters in The Iliad. Their presence heavily affected the outcome of several crucial battles. They were two of the very best fighters of their time.
The braveness and the courage of Hector is conspicuous in The Iliad, he wanted to return to the battlefield whereas he was supposed to take care of his city and go on errands clearly goes to show his courage, on the contrary the character of Paris who also was the instigator of the Trojan war failed to do his duties properly and this prompted the other Trojans to condemn his deeds severely.
Athletic competitions also provided opportunities to the Greek heroes to get honor and glory, these competitions were considered really important and several heroes often participated in such competitive events.
The role of women in The Iliad is also very important; possession of women was a crucial factor in The Iliad. The Trojan War was instigated when Paris abducted Helen; the same affected the honor of Menelaus. This event was very significant and also culminated into the war between the Greeks and the Trojans. This is why possession of women was considered to be really important in The Iliad. Achilles and the other Greek warriors joined hands and fought against the Trojans because they wanted to bring back Helen, with Helen they believed the lost honor and glory of the Greeks would also return, this is why the Trojan War was fought.
The characters of Hector and Paris have fine contrasts, “learned to be valiant and to fight always among the foremost ranks of the Trojans, winning for [his] own self great glory, and for [his] father (Homer, Iliad 6.444)”. The quote describes the character of Hector who was really brave and courageous; Paris on the other hand was not even half as brave as his brother. By abducting Helen he let his family and community down and also instigated a fight which was later escalated into a full blown battle and caused a lot of damage.
To conclude it is very fair to say that honor and glory were perhaps the two most important things in the lives of the Greeks and the Trojans, they went the distance to fight for their glory and honor. The possession of women is equally important in The Iliad; the Trojan War would never have taken place had Paris not stolen Helen.
Homer. The Iliad. Trans. Fagles. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1951. ISBN 0-14-044592-7.