In Homer's The Iliad, various male roles exhibit heroic characteristics complying with the heroic code. Their endeavors to achieve honor in battle, exuding god-like attributes, yet beyond their heroism exterior, do they possess a humanness aspect as well. Two characters that exemplified these qualities are Achilles, defender of the Greeks, and Hector, defender of the Trojans. Both characters have their distinct approaches in corresponding to the conformities of being a hero. However, a very controversial question comes to mind; between Achilles and Hector, who is the true epic hero of Iliad? This question has been long debated upon due to the behavior and actions that Hector and Achilles, both display in certain events. Some critics considered Achilles as being the true hero of Iliad, because of the cowardice that Hector displayed when he confronted Achilles. However, Achilles had his cons when his behavior was equivalent to that of savage beast, where he desecrates the corpse of Hector in Book Twenty-Two and abandons the war when he was needed the most in Book One. So how does one weigh in choosing the greater hero know this? One will come to realize that though a person may demonstrate unruly behavior in the beginning, he can still recognize at the end his flaws and use his human emotions in proportion with the heroic code to become the true epic hero of Iliad. This is what Achilles did and that is why he is deemed as the true epic hero of Homer's, The Iliad. As Machiavelli once said, "The end justifies the means.".
From Book One until Book Eighteen of the Iliad, the reader may believe that Hector is the true hero, because of his love for his family and allegiance in defending Troy. Even though he is aware of the tragic fate that will befall his beloved city. He still pursues with the war. In the passage below, he is talking with his wife, Andromakhe as to why he must continue on with the fight; take special note of the lines where he says he must contend for honor, Father's and mine, which will be brought up again later on in the paper.