Compassion in The Iliad and The Aeneid
Uploaded by JayJay on Dec 29, 2004
Both Homer’s The Iliad, and Virgil’s The Aeneid, recount the many grave occurrences, and key hero’s and gods and goddesses of the tumultuous Trojan War. The Trojans and Greeks are for the most part evenly matched; however, the Greeks triumph after ten years of restless war comes about because of many factors. The people of Troy suffer to a greater extent than the Greeks, because of Hector’s unwise actions, Paris’s gluttonous decision, and the gods’ involvement in the war.
Hector’s hubris and imprudent decisions result in massive losses in Trojan life. Although a leader and hero of the Trojan forces, Hector makes a colossal mistake by slaying Achilles closest friend, Patroclus, “just as a mountain lion overpowers a mighty boar” (64). Hector also “removed Achilles’ shining armor from Patroclus and took it for himself,” (64) to demonstrate superiority. However, this arrogant act, only further enrages godlike Achilles, and compels him to reenlist in the Greek army, and wreak havoc upon the Trojans. Another absurd decision that Hector makes, is when he refuses to heed wise Polydamas’ advice, and fortify the soldiers behind the walls of Troy. Instead of listening to the wise man’s words, Hector’s hubris gets the best of him, and he orders his forces to commence with an attack upon Greek ships, even though Achilles anger runs high from the death of Patroclus. This full throttle attack, called on by Hector, causes “the black earth to swim with Trojan blood” (66).
The judgment, and unthinkable act that Paris makes, ultimately leads to the downfall of Troy. When Paris is given the opportunity to evaluate and judge who the fairest goddess is, he chooses Aphrodite, instead of Athena or Hera. For this decision, Aphrodite rewards Paris with the love of the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen, the wife of Menelaus. Shortly after this judgment, Paris, with the help of Aphrodite manages to send a fleet of ships, break into Menelaus’ palace in Greece, and abduct Helen. This abduction entices Helen’s husband Menelaus as well as her former suitors, who took a vow to protect her, to lead an assault upon the city of Troy. In one instance, Hector, the brother of Paris and son of Priam, scolds Paris for his lack of courage during battle, telling him, “The Trojan people must share your cowardice, or they would have stoned you to death long before this, for all...