Who is the central hero Of Homer's Iliad?

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In a story full of heroic characters it can be hard to identify the central hero. The other educator answer here makes a good case for Hector. He does seem to be the most heroic hero in the epic poem, truly embodying the aspects of a hero by modern definitions. However, one might also make the case that Achilles is the central hero of The Iliad.

Achilles' centrality is established right in the opening lines of The Iliad. The poet opens by invoking the muses to

Sing, O goddess, the anger of Achilles, son of Peleus, that brought countless ills upon the Achaeans.

Right from the start Achilles is identified as the main character which the epic will follow. Specifically, The Iliad is the story of Achilles' anger. It begins with the cause of this anger and follows the consequences of it. The epic ends with the resolution of Achilles' anger when he returns Hector's body to the Trojans. Looking at The Iliad this way, it is clear that Achilles is the central hero of the story.

Achilles does not always come across as the most sympathetic of heroes. He is moody, self-centered, and self-serving. However, he fits the classic definition of a hero according to the Greeks. He is a warrior from the legendary past with near-superhuman abilities, who is descended from the gods. Achilles fits all these requirements.

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I think that a case can be made for several characters, but I think Hector has got to be the central hero of the epic.  Hector is the most noble of all of the characters, and arguably suffers the most in the epic poem.  The fact that Hector is the only one who views war in its most honest of contexts, and enters into it with trepidation and recognition of the costs makes him someone that Homer admires and loves. At the same time, Hector represents the unenviable task of being poised between equally desirable, but ultimately incompatible courses of action.  Hector is forced to balance out the love of country and honor with his love of family.  Hector's arete and skill are both needed by the Trojans.  Yet, at the same time, he wishes to be with his wife and child.  When he must face Achilles and the prospect of certain death, he looks at both, embodying this collision between equally desirable, but ultimately incompatible courses of action.  This pain makes him the central character, demonstrating the pain intrinsic to human consciousness.

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