In the Iliad,  identify the protagonist and explain his or her motivation.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are many different answers to this question.  If you are operating from a textbook or an instructor's directives, pay attention to these elements before anything else.  Given the breadth and depth of Homer's work, I think that you can make the argument that a variety of character could be the protagonist.  I have always felt that Hector is the primary character of the epic.  This flies into what might be conventional wisdom, but I feel that one of the primary themes of the work is the idea of the immortals and mortals "switching" roles to a certain extent, whereby the gods are similar to people and the role of divinity is taken by the human being.  In this light, Hector is the most like a god.  When he dies, it says a great deal about the nature of humanity and divinity.  Hector's sole desire is to protect the honor of his family name and kingdom as well as return to his wife and child.  Hector is the epitome of self sacrifice, in that he engages in the contest with the Greeks after much reflection and in defending the actions of his self centered brother, Paris.  While Hector is a human being, his actions of nobility, honor, and sacrifice are more divine than anything else.