Sun 29 Jan 2006
All the heroes are motivated by and deeply concerned with the same thing: Honor. It drives all their actions, but their own personal views on how one gets and maintains one’s honor varies amongst them all. Achilles feels his honor has been diminished by the loss of his prize, but he doesn’t—to my mind—seem eager to regain his lost honor as much as to make the other Greeks sorry they insulted him. Compared to Achilles I think Hector is the better and more honorable of the two. Hector could have stalked off in a huff and refused to fight while his brother Paris was lying in bed with Helen away from the battle—as I am sure Achilles would have done in the same circumstances. However, Hector doesn’t which makes him the more honorable and noble of the two. Further, if Hector had been in Achilles’ place, I believe he would have continued to fight in spite of the loss of his prize. Also, Hector doesn’t seem to have the temper that would have cost him his prize in the first place.
If one did try to compare Hector to one of the Greeks, I would say he was most similar in actions and temperament to Odysseus, or even Nestor. They have calmer and cooler heads and, even in anger, they react more diplomatically. On rather a tangent—both Odysseus and Hector leave behind a wife and young son when they go to war, though Hector is much closer proximity wise to his own and when he leaves them it is much more permanently.
As for Helen, she is hardly depicted the way one might expect the woman who caused a war that lasted 10 years to be portrayed. She seems reluctant to have left her former husband, and it is hard to see why she would have in the first place. I wonder how Homer would have depicted her before the Trojan War started and she had just met Paris.