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The Iliad: Achilles in contrast to Hector - Essay Example

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Clients Name Name of Professor Name of Class Date Achilles in contrast to Hector: Homer’s Creation of Sympathy for the Tragic Hero The tragic hero is a figure that is seen at the core of many of the ancient writings that still exist in the current era. The Illiad by Homer is an example of the tragic hero where the protagonists of the story are flawed and their end is the result of those flaws…
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The Iliad: Achilles in contrast to Hector
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Download file to see previous pages In examining the characteristics of both Achilles and Hector, the nature of the tragic hero is revealed for both flaws and skills, while not quite meeting the sympathetic characterizations developed by Aristotle. The tragic hero, as it has been recorded through written history, was extensively explored by both Aristotle and Homer. Homer’s sense of the tragic hero is a “sense of morality and fate” which act as the rudimentary qualities. Both Hector and Achilles carry these traits (Mishra 6). Mishra states that “According to Aristotle a tragic hero is a person of exalted position who, on account of some error or flaw, suffers a total reversal of fortune, arousing a feeling of pity or fear” (1). Hector fits into this framework because he commits an error of hubris. His pride leads into battle against Achilles and his arrogance puts his sword into the position to take the kill, destroying the life of the companion of Achilles, Patrocles, rather than Achilles. As his pride leads him to believe that he is strong enough to take the life of Achilles, he erroneously takes the life of someone far inferior to the great warrior and to himself. According to Nussbaum, the tragic hero in the eyes of Aristotle elicits empathy from the reader as the fall of the hero can be related to the tragic ends that occur in daily life. The evocation of the emotions of the reader is created because the hero is good and the audience feels for the injustice of his fall within the work (386). The concept of hubris then comes into play as the tragic hero must not believe in their essential goodness and invulnerability too much as this would be a sign of too much of the wrong kind of pride. This kind of arrogant pride, the belief that one is invulnerable, would be a source of hubris which is a great sin to the Greeks (Nussbaum 387). Therefore he must be less than perfect, yet desire to reach perfection through the righteousness and goodness of his actions. Achilles and Hector do not fully fall into the ranks of the tragic hero as described by Aristotle as Achilles believes himself invulnerable because of the protections put on him by his mother and Hector acts on his belief of his own skills where they are too superior to his opponent, even if unbeknownst to himself. The characterizations created by Homer were well developed and informed the reader of the type of individual character they were reading about which also had a sense of morality that gave applications of meaning to the text as the story was revealed. The characters were distinct, which is one of the reasons that Homer is considered “the first great genius of the Western literary tradition” (Cunningham and Reich 36). It is likely that the Iliad, along with his other most known work the Odyssey, were written from a long history of oral traditions that had passed the stories down to Homer. One of the more brilliant aspects of the poem is the way in which military movement and strategy was made accessible to the average reader by comparing elements of the military to every day concepts. One of these brilliant usages of metaphor and simile can be seen when the “massing of the Greek forces…is likened to a swarm of flies buzzing around pails of milk” ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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