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Achilles and Hector, the Illiad

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The Illiad was set in a time where war was a constant threat to the people. The storyteller, Homer, recounts a story of a 10-year war between the Achaeans and the Trojans that resulted from the attack by the Trojans where they made off with Helen the wife of an Achaean chieftain named Menelaus. Hector and Achilles were alike in many ways. They seek glory on the battlefield, to die a hero, to be honored in death by their people yet they were depicted as very different men who had come to a time in their lives where their ultimate reasons for the war were very different.

Achilles was considered the warrior-champion of the Achaeans and came to live his life by violence, defending his people and defeating and or attacking his enemies. He was not a family man instead he is portrayed as a man fighting for his own self-satisfaction. When Agamemnon, also a warrior chieftain, shamed Achilles by claiming Briseis, Achilles war prize he is humiliated and his anger brews and he tells Agamemnon "Far better to head home with my curved ships than stay here, unhonored myself and piling up a fortune for you." (111) and with that he leaves to back to Phthia. He had decided to kill Agamemnon but Athena came to him, sent by Hera, and told him to get his anger under control. With that he left in anger and stayed by his ships drowning in sorrow. Here was the fearsome warrior brought to his knees by the loss of a woman, a prize, a piece of property, taken from him by another. He did not fight in the war for a time due to his anger and humiliation but when his best friend Patroclus was slain by Hector he was driven by revenge and rejoined the fight.

Hector was considered the warrior-champion for the Trojans, who had persuaded the Trojan warriors to leave Troy and the safety it provided while Achilles was not taking part in the battle. He was portrayed as a family man, loving son, husband and father. The feelings he took with him in his battles was protection for his family and his people. He was considered courageous and honorable and was expected to become the King of Troy. After the Trojans were driven back to Troy and once Achilles joined the war again Hector was taking a stand outside of the gates to meet Achilles in combat. His mother and father pleaded with him to retreat but he stayed to face down his enemy. At the last moment he had doubts in himself and tried to talk himself into stepping down but stayed strong. As Achilles approached he ended up taking off running instead of facing him, and with that Achilles started chasing him. "And when Hector saw it he lost his nerve, panicked, and ran, leaving the gates behind, with Achilles on his tail, confident in his speed." (177) "So Achilles swooped and Hector trembled in the shadow of Troy's wall." (177). After they ran around the walls three times Hector stopped to face Achilles wherein Achilles won the battle and killed him.

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