The ability to inspire and encourage others is a characteristic not many people possess. Some are born with it, a few have to work hard to develop the skill and then there are those who believe who can but have no idea how to lead. Agamemnon is the perfect example of the latter. He ruled by force and show of power. He certainly did not evoke loyalty or a harmonious union. Hektor, Troy’s greatest fighter and hero put the defence of his city and people before his own personal needs. For his bravery and virtue, he was Troy’s favoured and most respected son.
‘Fully armed, he immediately leapt from his chariot to the ground and, brandishing a pair of sharp spears, went everywhere among his men, urging them to fight and rousing their spirit for grim battle.’
Book 6, Lines 102-105
Hektor was the eldest son of Priam and Hekuba and would have inherited the kingdom after his father if he hadn’t been killed. Homer portrayed him as a good son, a loving husband and loyal to his city. He blames his brother Paris for bringing the war to their home yet Hektor does not hesitate to defend Troy. In one particular scene, he berates Paris for avoiding the battlefield and wasting time polishing his armour. Paris was licking his wounded pride after he and Menelaos met in a duel which the Spartan King would have won if Aphrodite hadn’t rescued him.
‘What do you think you are doing? It doesn’t do you much credit to sit and sulk by yourself like this, while our men are falling in action around town and its steep walls. It’s your fault this town flares with the sound of fury of battle…’
Book 6, Lines 326-329
Hektor doesn’t mince his words and blames the elders of Troy for holding him back when he wanted to push the fight to the Akhaian ships. He showed confidence and was certain they could win the war, especially when Akhilleus bowed out of the battle. Hektor was smart enough to realise in a one to one combat situation he could not beat Akhilleus and took advantage of the Myrmidon’s absence. The Trojans’ under Hektor’s command came very close to defeating the Akhaians until he sealed his fate by killing Patroklos. He even predicted his own death.
‘Who knows—Akhilleus, son of a lovely-haired Thetis, may still get there first, dispatched with a blow from [his] spear.’
Book 16, Lines 859-861
Was Hektor the real hero of the Iliad as some scholars suggest? You have Akhilleus who’s idea was to fight and be immortalised for his ability; Agamemnon who’s true reason for the war was to steal Priam’s riches and power; Odysseus clever with words and used a trick to win the war. If one takes the virtuous characteristics of Hektor, then he is the hero of the story.
Do you agree with my hypothesis Hektor was the true hero of the Iliad? Love to know your thoughts.
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