In The Iliad, Which Description Best Characterizes Hector?

Hector is a brave leader and mighty warrior. These qualities make him an iconic epic hero in line with Achilles, Odysseus, Great Ajax, and Patroclus. We can find the best description of his character at the end of Book 2, where Homer presents him as the bravest Trojan. In Book 22, he confirms this statement in his last fight with Achilles.

Hector is an epic hero because he has six out of the seven traits typical for such characters.

  1. He is noble by birth. 
  2. He is an unmatched warrior. 
  3. He has the potential of great deeds requiring strength and courage. 
  4. He has an impeccable reputation among his countrymen, who recognize him as a hero. 
  5. He is modest and does not brag. His greatness is described by the author or other characters. 
  6. Gods help him and take his side.  
  7. But he does not travel over large distances because he defends his city. 

We can confirm these qualities through the text. In Book 2, the catalog of the Trojan forces starts with Hector. “Priam’s son, great Hector of the gleaming helmet, commanded the Trojans, and with him were arrayed by far the greater number and most valiant of those who were longing for the fray.” Priam is the King of Troy. Thus, Hector is the Prince (trait 1). He was the commander of the entire army, which shows that he is a great warrior and has a good reputation among the Trojans (traits 2 and 4).    

In Book 3, Hector volunteers to fight Menelaus instead of Paris. This passage represents him as a powerful and brave man (trait 3). He is humble and does what he should, praying for Zeus to help him in Book 22 before fighting Achilles (traits 5 and 6).

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