Heroic Code Essay Example
Heroic Code Essay Example

Heroic Code Essay Example

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The characters in Homer’s Iliad follow the Heroic Code which is all about honor. For them, honor is the most important thing and a person who dies without honor is worth nothing.

To be someone honorable, one must standout from the army, like Akhilleus and Hektor. The two are recognized as the best in their army and community. But the Heroic Code is more than just exerting more effort as a warrior, more than being the best warrior there is and more than doing something that the army, community and opposition will recognize.In the heroic Code, there exist four pillars that will dictate whether you have achieved honor. The first is "always to be the best and bravest and to be distinguished above others.

"The second aspect of the code is the most direct and immediate in its


relation to battle: 'to stand fast firmly'. The third pillar of the code is "to be a speaker of words and a doer of deeds. The final aspect of the code has only a fleeting mention in the Iliad, but rises to center stage in the Odyssey: the concept of "helping one's friends, while harming one's enemies. " (http://faculty. valenciacc. edu/eshaw/iliad. htm) For some of the characters in the Iliad, nothing is worth fighting for if there was no honor to be achieved; if there was no Heroic Code. Though the Heroic Code was greatly followed in Homer’s time, honor nowadays, is a rare thing to see. One character that exemplifies the Heroic Code is Akhilleus.

He values honor too much that he refuses to fight for the High-King, Agamemnon, a person who Akhilleus has said had no honor at

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all since all he does is order people to fight, does not stand in the front lines of battle and is only High-King because he brought the most ships, not because of doing anything that may make him worthy of being called High-King (Iliad, book 2). “What a poltroon, how lily-livered I should be called, if I knuckled under to all you do or say! Give you commands to someone else, not me... ” (Iliad, book 1, lines 345-347)We also see that Akhilleus is firm in his decision that he does not want and will not to fight for a coward like Agamemnon.

“… Give in to Agamemnon, I think not…”(Iliad, book 9, line 385) Akhilleus, however, is guilty of hubris. He claims that the Akhaian army will be nothing without Akhilleus in the front lines (Iliad, book 1). Aside from Akhilleus, there is also Diomedes who prays to Athena for revenge after Pandarus hits him with the arrow. “Oh hear me, daughter of Zeus who bears the stormcloud, tireless one, Athena! If ever you stood near my father and helped him in a hot fight, befriend me now as well.

Let me destroy that man, bring me in range of him, who hit me by surprise, and glories in it. He swears I shall be blind to sunlight soon. ”(Iliad, Book 5, Lines 133-138) Athena gives Diomedes the power to wound gods and goddesses, however warns Diomedes not to fight any god or goddess other than Aphrodite. Diomedes then feeds his blood-lust and wounds Aphrodite.

“Now from the goddess that immortal fluid, ichor, flowed – the blood of blissful gods who eat no food, who drink no

tawny wine, and thereby being bloodless have the name of being immortal. (Iliad, Book 5, lines 392-396) Diomedes, however, becomes guilty of hubris when he tries to wound Apollo, even after being warned by Athena, but is easily shoved away. “Three times he made his killing thrust; three times the Lord Apollo buffeted his shield, throwing him back. Beside himself, again he sprang, a fourth time, but the Archer God raised a bloodcurdling cry: ‘Look out! Give way! Enough of this, this craze to vie with gods! Our kind, immortals of the open sky, will never be like yours, earth-faring men. ’” (Iliad, Book 5, lines 499-507)Aside from Diomedes and Akhilleus, there is Hektor.

Hektor, I think, is the counterpart of Akhilleus for the Trojans. Even if he has a wife and a young child, even after Andromakhe tells him about the loneliness she will have to bear with, with the possibility of losing Hektor, he still chooses glory over family or love. “Oh, my wild one, your bravery will be your own undoing! No pity for our child, poor little one, or me in my sad lot – soon to be deprived of you! Soon, soon Akhaians as one man will set upon you and cut you down!Better for me, without you, to take cold earth for mantle. No more comfort, no other warmth, after you meet your doom, but heartbreak only.

(Iliad, Book6, lines 475-483) Hektor also strives for greatness, for recognition, but is also guilty of hubris at the same time. Hektor challenges any Akhaian to go one-on-one with him (Iliad, book 7, lines 75-105). Hektor is too over-confident with his skills that he

can take on any warrior in the Akhaian army. But for me, I think that Hektor’s over-confidence is the result of Akhilleus’ presence.With Akhilleus out of the picture, maybe Hektor believes that nobody can defeat him. Not only that, but Hektor also refused to retreat after an eagle drops a snake in the middle of the Trojan army and Poulydamas tells Hektor that he interprets this as a sign that their army will fall.

(Iliad, book 12, lines 220-276). The Heroic Code is rare nowadays because the code has been transformed into something completely different. The concept of hubris has also changed. Today, it is called arrogance.

In the time of Homer, people would fight to do something extraordinary like kill the best warrior in the opposing army for honor. Today, people fight and do extraordinary things for money. If one were to do something extraordinary, he would be awarded fame and probably fortune. Fortune isn’t awarded to anybody who does something extraordinary. For example, there have been many instances of people saving other people who have fallen in the subway in the States1.

They have been awarded fame, but the fortune awarded is only if you are a lucky person.For any bystander, he may have the chance of getting good rewards2. But for people whose job is to ensure the safety of the public (e. g. policemen and firemen), they may not be so lucky. Honor isn’t the first thing people of today want to achieve in their lives; but it certainly isn’t the last. With respect with the four pillars of the Heroic Code, the first and second pillar isn’t really changed much. The third has

been changed because these days, people tend to say one thing and do another.People don’t keep their word as often as the Greeks did in those times. People in our time tend to make empty promises on their way to greatness.

People are easily swayed by words and believe in promises. People aren’t as honorable as they did before. Lastly, the fourth pillar, people don’t tend to help a friend for the sake of just helping. They help in order to gain something from the friend. With this aspect, people who help to gain something are named as “users” in today’s society.

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