Home Forums Litterae Forum The Iliad A hero and his pride

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    Can a soldier be a hero without his pride? Hector went to fight Achilles knowing full well he would probably die and in doing so, endanger his family. However, not to fight would have been cowardly and brought eternal shame on his family. What should he have done?


    Linda Oreilly

    Hector did what Hector had to do. There was no way out for him so he took care of business.
    Staying with his family – staying behind at all – wasn’t something he could do.
    Would’ve been damned un-Hector-like.
    I see Hector’s pride as being appropriate for the time and circumstance and much more seemly than Achilles’ prideful temper tantrums.

    There are so many qualifications to deal with. Pride is on a continuum. Too much; too little…you know?
    I think Hector had the balance just about right.


    Alan Birnie

    Balance is the important concepot isn your contribution Linda. Your comments remined me of the excellent article about “thumos” which can be found on this website (published on the 23rd of June 2014). The most pertinent extract from that article for me is below

    “… Plato compares the human soul to a chariot that is being pulled by one white horse and one black horse, with a skilled charioteer at the reigns.

    “First the charioteer of the human soul drives a pair, and secondly one of the horses is noble and of noble breed, but the other quite the opposite in breed and character. Therefore in our case the driving is necessarily difficult and troublesome.”-Plato (Phaedrus)

    The black horse is said to represent men’s appetites. The white horse is said to represent the thumos of a soul. And the charioteer is reason, which holds both horses steady and will not allow either to run wild. If all is well, the white horse and the black horse will propel the soul forward while reason will ensure that neither steed ever runs toward destruction.”


    Linda Oreilly

    Thanks, Alan. I swear I didn’t read the article you cite but I also swear that I will read it pronto.
    I grew up under the good angel/bad angel rule but you were supposed to pick one or the other for all time.
    Impossible of course. Silly people.

    All the great stories are a study of balance in decision making. Sadly, we can only see the whole picture
    in hindsight so decision-making in the field is particularly difficult. Make your decision and prepare to deal with
    your fate. All hail the human who can do it without hedging.

    I hedged in my reading of The Iliad, I bought the translation by Stephen Mitchell narrated by Alfred Molina.
    I hadn’t read it since school days and I didn’t want it to seem like school. Alfred did a terrific job with
    the Mitchell translation (whether the translation is terrific or not I do not know).

    To return to the question Socrates asked,’Can a soldier be a hero without his pride?’
    A fuller answer would be: No. But the type and level of pride in a soldier will determine whether he’s done an honorable job.

    How did honor and pride compare in Ancient Greece?



    Pride is an instrument of an educated person. I doubt Socrates was proud



    This is a historical context that requires facts. I recently read a free essay on free relations in ancient Rome https://phdessay.com/free-essays-on/history/. Pride is an element of a weak Rome. Epicurus wrote about the cowardice of a soldier and his hostile pride. These are different facts. Philosophers choose different options for understanding freedom and pride.



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