From the conversation between Hector and Andromache in the Iliad, choose details which show great love between the two. What qualities in each are revealed?

In the conversation between Andromache and Hector, each expresses their deep love for the other. Andromache says she would rather be dead than lose him, while Hector fears greatly that Andromache will become the enemy's captive slave. Andromache reveals the quality of putting family first, while Hector shows that his warrior ethic means that even with his great love for his family he can't allow him to dishonor himself by refusing to fight.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The scene in which Andromache bids farewell to Hector on the eve of battle is one of the most tender in the entire poem. Hector appears in body armor, a long plume emerging from his helmet, to say goodbye to his wife and very young son. The son cries in fear because he does recognize his father, and both mother and son laugh in an affectionate way as Hector raises his visor to comfort the infant.

Andromache shows her love when she begs Hector not to go war, stating that she would better off dead than have anything happen to him. She shows her desire to keep him with her when she tells him to stay on the wall with her and simply place his troops in front of the weakest part of Troy's massive walls. She wants him to direct the war effort from afar.

Hector, in turn, embraces her and states that he wishes he could be with her and not fighting. He has a great sense of foreboding that Troy will be defeated and hates the idea of Andromache being taken off as a slave.

Andromache reveals the quality of "family first" as driving her character, while Hector shows how torn he is between the warrior ideal he has grown up with and his love of his wife and child. He explains to Andromache that while he loves her dearly and doesn't want to fight, he could never, ever hold his head up again if he did not join the battle. Everything in his socialization has led him to this moment and even though he loves his family, he cannot allow himself to be dishonored.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on September 4, 2020
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

From the conversation between Helen and Hector at Alexandrus' house: "I must go home to see my household, my wife and my little son, for I know not whether I shall ever again return to them, or whether the gods will cause me to fall by the hands of the Achaeans.” We can see that Hector is a family man. He cares for the home life and the lives of his family. He could just as easily have turned around and left the city to return to the battle, but he really wants to see them.

“Dear husband,” said she, “your valour will bring you to destruction; think on your infant son, and on my hapless self who ere long shall be your widow—for the Achaeans will set upon you in a body and kill you. It would be better for me, should I lose you, to lie dead and buried, for I shall have nothing left to comfort me when you are gone, save only sorrow.

Andromache is the first to speak when they meet on the city walls. She is concerned that she will be a widow with no help. Her family is already dead at the hands of Achilles. She would rather die than lose Hector.

Andromache urges Hector to stay near to her even if the battle should come to the city.  He is all she has left in the world.  And, she is concerned about the safety of her baby. She feels safe in Hector's presence.  She is also comfortable enough with Hector to speak her mind rather than be submissive.  Andromache is after all the daughter of a king and a princess in her own right.  Andromache speaks to Hector as an equal not as a "submissive wife".

Nay—Hector—you who to me are father, mother, brother, and dear husband—have mercy upon me; stay here upon this wall; make not your child fatherless, and your wife a widow; as for the host, place them near the fig-tree, where the city can be best scaled, and the wall is weakest.

Hector reveals his worst fears to Andromache and the main reason he continues to go out and fight. He fears that she will be enslaved and made a plaything among the Achaeans. He speaks to Andromache his true feelings and does not hide behind macho bravado. He is truly human in this section of Homer's epic.  We see a man...not a godlike hero. He is afraid for his family, and even a little for himself. He does everything to comfort his wife and prays for his son.

", but I grieve for none of these—not even for Hecuba, nor King Priam, nor for my brothers many and brave who may fall in the dust before their foes—for none of these do I grieve as for yourself when the day shall come on which some one of the Achaeans shall rob you for ever of your freedom, and bear you weeping away...May I lie dead under the barrow that is heaped over my body ere I hear your cry as they carry you into bondage.”

Hector can bear death even the deaths of all of his family easier than he can bear the thought of his wife as a slave to his enemies.

Hector tries to comfort Andromache by telling her that he won't die before his time is up. He tells her to make herself busy doing her normal daily tasks.  Hector explains to her that because he is the son of Priam, it is his duty to go out and fight for the city and for his family.

“My own wife, do not take these things too bitterly to heart. No one can hurry me down to Hades before my time, but if a man's hour is come, be he brave or be he coward, there is no escape for him when he has once been born.

 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial