Welcome to episode 3! In this episode, we meet the great Trojan hero from the Trojan War, Hector, in his moment of decision. Will he choose to fight the Greek hero Achilles? Or does he take the easy route out? We examine his soliloquy in Iliad 22.99-115. It’s not easy being a hero!
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This week’s passage is Iliad 22:99-115
What shall I do? If I go back through the gates in the wall
Polydamas will be the first to heap reproaches on me, 100
because he urged me at the start of this last deadly night,
when glorious Achilles rose up, to lead the Trojans into the city.
I would not listen to him—but it would have been much better.
But now, since I have ruined the people by my recklessness,
I feel shame before the Trojan men and the Trojan women with their 105
trailing robes, in case some man of low rank may say of me:
‘Hector trusted in his own might and so refined his people.’
That is what they will say; and then it would be far better
to go and meet Achilles face to face and either kill him and return
or die at his hands, full of glory, in front of the city. 110
And yet, suppose I lay down my bossed shield and
strong helmet and lean my spear against the wall, and
go out by myself to meet blameless Achilles, and
promise to give back Helen and her possessions with her,
every single thing that Alexander brought to Troy…
Homer. Iliad. Trans. Anthony Verity. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.
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This week’s theme music: “Super Hero” by King Louie’s Missing Monuments from the album “Live at WFMU” (2011). Used under Creative Commons license. Music used under Creative Commons license and available from Free Music Archive.
3 thoughts on “3. hector”
Your podcasts are always a delight. Thank you!
I listened to this one twice because I am fascinated by the Iliad as both an epic poem and an insight into the way people lived in ancient times. But also because I view Hector, the eponymous subject of this episode, as the real hero of this epic. In this opinion, I follow the lead of the late brilliant author, translator, and historian Robert Graves, who also translated the Iliad, and found little to admire in Achilles but much to praise in Hector.
I wanted to point out one slight error in your discussion – the armor worn by Hector at this point in the poem is that of Achilles. Hector put it on after Apollo stripped the armor from Patroclus just prior to the mortal wounds which Euphorbus and Hector dealt him. And shortly after, Hector dons this armor. It is interesting that both Patroclus and Hector die in Achilles’ armor after fighting continuously day and night and probably dropping from exhaustion. When Achilles goes after Hector, he is fresh from weeks of resting and relaxing, while Hector has been leading the Trojans in battle every day for weeks. Even after period of lament over Patroclus, he waits another day for a new set of armor to be made especially for him by Hephaestos. In a camp full of armor, Achilles will not go on the field unless he is looking his best.
Hi Ann, Thanks for your comment! We’re glad to hear you enjoyed the podcast. Thanks for catching our mistake—there is a lot of symbolism with the armour as Achilles is symbolically also killing himself when he kills Hector. We might come back to this in a future episode (now that we’ve got the hang of the podcasting thing!). Thanks for listening!
Great point about Achilles killing himself symbolically when he kills Hector and allows his rage to turn into inhuman bestiality. I had not seen that connection before. It is so interesting that Achilles still wins kleos but not the closure of a great funeral. That honor is, however, bestowed by Homer on Hector. I love all things Homer, Sappho, and Pindar so you have so much ground to cover! Best wishes from a devoted fan.