However, they are human, so they will ultimately meet their limits and fail. This contradiction pattern illustrates the doomed suffering and pain in a hero’s life, no matter how long the life will be. For example, Helen is the most beautiful woman in the world, so she is doomed to be fought for among men. She cannot control her own fate, or she will lose the gifts Aphrodite gives her, which is all she is famous for. At last she has to obey Aphrodite order as well as the arrangements of men.
Similarly, Achilles is the fastest runner in the world, where his superhuman greatness lies. When Agamemnon takes his prize away and Hector killed his closest friend, Achilles gets lost in great pain. Through his suffering, he makes it clear that the only thing he longs for is his honor. And when he fights for honor, his limit appears. He can only choose one of the two alternatives, which are going home and living a long life without honor, or fighting for his honor and dying young. Another example is Hector.
He is indeed a peace-loving and caring man, but he is born in a war age. This conflict torments him, and he has to protect his homeland and his family by standing on the rent line of battle and killing enemies. In the end, he pays back the loss of other people’s lives by losing his own. In this way, the suffering is necessary for heroes, because it arouses their identity and progresses them towards their tragedy. On one hand, these stories of heroes give us a sense of what happened in the past, and explain the origins for part of what we are confronting at present.
They will also inspire us to imagine the future through illustrating the certain pattern which will last forever. People may learn the details of the Trojan War, as well as its cruelty. They may be taught about what things were like in the previous time. On the other hand, people may appreciate the tragedies in an artful way, which somehow entertains them. Meanwhile, the audience or readers may feel pity for the tragic heroes, which influences them when they read the poetry. These are the two main ways in which poetry functions.
In Homer’s Iliad, the heroes share a couple of similar qualities. First of all, they are all self-esteemed. When Helen meets Paris, she abandons her husband, her children and her marriage bed to follow him to Troy, without consideration about the serious consequences of doing so. Here, she regards herself as completely independent from the whole community, which shows her lack in a sense of social responsibility. Likewise, when Hector hears his brother Paris’ offer to fight against Menelaus face to face, he “rejoiced and right in the no man’s land along his lines he strode… (al. 3. 93-5 [Beagles 131]). He stings taunts at Paris and looks forward to his words mentioned above, showing his indifference to his brother’s fate. His reckless act is an indication of his self-absorption. Meanwhile, they possess the human feelings as well. When Helen learns about the war for her, she becomes more eke a human than a goddess, feeling shameful and guilty for what she has done. When Aphrodite asks her to go to Paris’ bed at once, Helen resists fiercely, “Not l, I’ll never go back again.
It would be wrong, disgraceful to share that coward’s bed once more. The women of Troy would scorn me down the years”(al. 3. 475-78 [Beagles 142]). At this time, Helen begins to care about other’s views on her as well as her social status, which reflects her humanity. And for Hector, when Andromeda, his wife, begs him not to return to the battlefield, Hector says “All this weighs on my mind, too, dear women. But I would die of shame to face the men of Troy and the Trojan women trailing their long robes if I would shrink from battle now, a coward”(al. . 522-25 [Beagles 210]). Hector has no choice but to fight to protect his country, which shows a man of dignity, bravery, and self-sacrifice. This is Hectors human part. Obviously, Homer chooses to humanism his characters to make us better related to the heroes in his poetry, thus leads us to emerge a deeper feeling of pity or sympathy for these characters. In addition, the two functions of poetry work better simultaneously by giving the characters distinct personalities.