Two of the main characters in the Iliad are Achilles and Hector. Other than being great warriors, they have little in common. There are fundamental differences in their character. Hector, a great leader and family man is a protector of the people. Achilles, on the other hand is self-centered warrior, his motivation for fighting is for glory and remembrance. One of the glaring differences between the two men is their motive for battle. Achilles makes a decision to go to war because the gods have given him an ultimatum, he can either go to battle with Troy and always be remembered, or not go to war and die an old man never to be remembered. Hector on the other hand is not fighting for fame or glory, he is fighting only to protect the people he loves. One scene where he is talking with his wife reflects this feelings. The following qoutation allows one to see into the true Character of the man. "But may I be dead and piled with earth hide me under before I hear you crying and know by this that they drag you captive." He truly loves his family and does not want any harm to come to them, this is clearly the driving force behind Hector s ferocious fighting spirit. (VI. 445-446)Achilles and Hector appear to have different values when it comes to family. There is no insinuation to Achilles commitment to family. One must assume that they were not his predominate motivators. We know there were men he cared for, Protakles, Odyessus and Phoinex for example, but there is no mention of his feelings toward anyone related to him. As one can tell from the discussion between Hector and his family members, he is obviously a devoted family man and loved dearly by all. One of the things learned from the discussions he had with his brother Paris is that no matter how angry he was about Paris inability to fight, he still loved him. Hector is truly devoted to his family.
The final difference in their personality is Hector's selflessness and Achilles shelfishness. Book I show him Achilles as a selfish person who does not care about anyone else as long as he gets what he wants. Although it is appearant he cares about his countrymen, he puts his own needs above their lives. He refuses to do battle on several occasions because he wants to torment Agamemnon. Achilles finally goes to battle near the end of the Iliad, although it is not because he wants to help his countrymen, but to avenge the death of his friend Protakles. When he does not get his way, he acts like a child and complains. On the other hand, Hector was a very selfless person who lived with Iron Age values and constantly thought of others. Showing respect to those who have earned it is probably the most important lesson that he has learned. As noted there are tremendous differences between the two indivduals, this ultimately brings them face to face in battle. Never the less, only one can survive the confrontation. Although Hector has all the good characteristics on his side and Achilles was apparently fighting for all the wrong reasons, the Gods had already sealed their fate.