Lessons in Character: Hector of Troy

Lessons in Character: Hector of Troy

Image Source: MarkChurms.com

Image Source: MarkChurms.com

Brad Johnson, Politics Contributor

A recurring poisonous theme in our politics today seems to be a lack of honesty, integrity, and general morality among those who represent us. Just a couple weeks ago, an Ohio State Representative was arrested for passing out intoxicated at a McDonalds drive through before dawn. In addition to an OVI charge, he was also charged with improperly handling a firearm. Unfortunately, there seems to be no shortage of crimes committed by our elected representatives. There is a popular meme that made its rounds recently through various social media universes. It lists an obscene amount of crimes committed by some organizational body. The image first posits that body is either the NFL or NBA. At the end it shocks the reader with stating it is in fact Congress, not the NFL or NBA, responsible for these crimes. While the statistics in the meme have been proven embellished and overall bunk (check the above link), the issue still subsists in Congress, as well as all other bodies of elected representatives. Possessing high character should serve as a requirement when running for office. This is a very difficult thing to reveal in a campaign, but it always comes to light in due time. It is imperative that we, the citizens, hold our representatives (and ourselves) to a higher standard.

I recently was able to again watch one of my favorite movies of all-time: Troy. Despite the inconsistencies, it reflects relatively well Homer’s Iliad (for a movie produced in Hollywood, anyway). The movie’s, and book’s, climax occurs when the legendary demigod Achilles squares off with the Prince of Troy, Hector. Achilles remains a household name today, and likely will for all of recorded history, because of his sheer ferocity on the battlefield. His type of personality, seemingly larger-than-life, quite often attracts a great following. Men like Hitler, Stalin, Mao, et al. possessed a thirst for power that breeds immorality. But when I read the Iliad in the 5th grade, it was not Achilles that sparked my interest. It instead was his rival, Hector.

A couple months ago I happened upon a fantastic article contrasting the styles of “manliness” exhibited by Achilles and Hector (it’s a great read that I highly recommend). However, it wasn’t just their differences in manhood that struck me, but the character disparities as well and even more so.

Achilles, the legend himself, was the prototypical “alpha male.” He was boorish, arrogant, courageous, and intimidating. Achilles did things his way, or he refused to do anything at all. The demigod sat out of battle for years over a feud with the Greek Commander, Agamemnon. It is clear that apart of his nature is an incredible pettiness coupled with narcissism. Who does that sound like? You’re right, Harry Reid! All kidding (but not really) aside, this does seem to fit at least a significant portion of our elected officials today. Seemingly long gone are men like Jack Kemp, Calvin Coolidge, Teddy Roosevelt (despite being an atrocious President), Abraham Lincoln, and George Washington.

Whereas, Hector of Troy exemplified the qualities of leaders past that we revere; duty-driven, of high integrity, kindness, honesty, selflessness, humility, and a heightened sense of honor. Hector had an unprecedentedly large war thrust upon him because of the transgressions of his brother. Yet he valiantly defended that which he called home from would-be invaders until his last breath. His brother, Paris, had eloped with another man’s wife (clearly not cut from the same cloth as Hector). This brought over 100,000 angry Achaeans to Troy’s doorstep, and as the heir to Troy’s throne, it was now his problem to deal with.

When presented with this obstacle not of his making, Hector did not turn tail and run, but stayed and fought. Courage of this kind stands on-par with whatever courage Achilles can claim for himself. It was his duty to defend his home, and thus for nine long years he stood athwart the tenacious surges of the Greeks. Hector’s heroics resemble that of the brave men and women who have chosen to serve in America’s armed forces. Like Hector’s, it is a sacrifice that speaks volumes to one’s character.

Perhaps Hector’s chief motivation for his last stand was that which drives nearly all reputable men and women, his family. There is a great Prager University video that explains the importance of this attribute. Hector was a family man, and a quintessential one at that. One such quote that illustrates this virtue is as follows, “Zeus, and you other immortals, grant that this boy, who is my son, may be as I am, pre-eminent among the Trojans, great in strength, as am I, and rule strongly over Ilion; and someday let them say of him: "He is better by far than his father", as he comes in from the fighting; and let him kill his enemy and bring home the blooded spoils, and delight the heart of his mother.” (6.476-481) The degree to which a man is dedicated to his family speaks volumes of that man’s character.

In addition to his focus on family, Hector showed great kindness to someone maybe not so deserving. Hector remained uncommonly kind to Helen, the catalyst of the war itself. As Hector lie dead from Achilles’ sword, Helen uttered these words to him essentially thanking him for showing her kindness she was not afforded by most Trojans. “I have never heard a harsh saying from you, nor an insult… There was no other in all the wide Troad who was kind to me, and my friend; all others shrank when they saw me.” (24.762-775). A person capable of kindness is one admirable in the least. Despite the great threat accompanying Helen, Hector refused to impart malice onto her.

Our elected officials are chosen to act in the best interests of their constituents. This does not mean catering to our every whim, but instead possessing an inherent sense of right and wrong and the laws to which we govern ourselves. Our system has no place for power-hungry officials that let no morality obstruct them. Yet the very nature of elected positions attracts those kinds of people like bees to honey. Let us use the example of Hector, and men like him, to distinguish between those deserving of the honor and those that are not. Remember, while Achilles commanded respect for his tenacity, Hector received the same for his decency. Let us turn the latter into the status quo, and expel the former.

Follow this author on Twitter @bradjCincy.

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