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Heroes in the Iliad - Thesis Example

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Such a man is shown as suffering a change in fortune from happiness to misery because of a mistaken act, to which he is led by his hamartia (his ‘effort of judgment’) or, as it is often literally translated, his tragic flaw” (Abrams, 1999). There are two types of tragic heroes, those that are born into nobility with a tragic flaw inherent in their character who are therefore responsible for their own fate and doomed to make a serious error in judgment and those who have achieved great heights or esteem through hard work who eventually realize they have made a huge mistake causing them to face and accept their tragic death with honor. Examples of these tragic heroes can be found in Homer’s Iliad, in the characters of Hector and Achilles. Hector falls into this first category of tragic hero in every way. He is born into a noble family, being the son of King Priam of Troy and he continues to make the same tragic mistake in that he continues to take the credit for his victories instead of giving honor and credit to the gods or goddesses that have taken his side. This can be seen in his taking credit for the retreat of Diomedes after Zeus threw a thunderbolt in front of Diomedes’ chariot to drive him away. ...
However, Hector shows a great deal of courage and strength on the battlefield, earning himself honor and protecting the interests of his family and his people in the process. Being guided by Apollo, he eventually comes up against Patroklos wearing Achilles’ enchanted armor and strikes him down with seeming little trouble. This is because Patroklos has already been struck by Apollo, giving Hector the opening he needs to kill his adversary. With this victory on him “Hector has hope that they can finally defeat the enemy once and for all. Addressing his assembled troops, he says: ‘Would that I were immortal and ageless for all time, like Athena and Apollo, as surely as this day is bringing evil to the Greeks!’ Hector’s words show that he does not realize his own limitations and that he could never have been so successful without the help of Zeus” (Lefkowitz, 2003, p. 66) and the other gods. This overconfidence leads him to ignore the warnings of Apollo, who tells him not to go into hand to hand combat with Achilles and is slain because of his pride and overconfidence in his own abilities and counsel. Achilles, on the other hand, falls more into the second category of a tragic hero. Although it could be said that he was born into nobility of a sort because of his parentage, being the son of the water nymph Thetis and the mortal Peleus (a hero in his own right), Achilles is brought to his death by an error in judgment that leads him to quit the field of battle at a time when his countrymen needed him most. The Iliad starts off with the quarrel that leads Achilles to quit the war as Agamemnon seizes Achilles’ prize, the girl Briseis, in exchange for the princess Chryseis he is forced by Apollo to give up. When Agamemnon’s men come to take Briseis ...Show more


Instructor name Date Heroes of the Iliad Greek mythology gave birth to the idea of the tragic hero. Aristotle’s idea regarding this type of character generally shapes him as an individual who has the potential for supreme greatness, but is destined to fail because of a certain tragic flaw that exists in his character…
Author : jernser
Heroes in the Iliad
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