Hector's Agency In The Iliad

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Within the Iliad, human agency is constantly constrained by the gods and motivational factors. As Hector prepares to return to battle, he is held back by his wife, Andromache. She begs him to stay, but Hector feels he must go back to war. While Andromache’s plea is an expression of natural determination, Hector displays some resistance, but his agency is limited by honor, shame, and the will of the Gods as they dominate his decision to return to battle, ultimately highlighting how one values shame and honor differently depending on the their role in society. Andromache exercises human agency as she purposefully attempts to limit Hector’s agency by convincing him that his family is more important than honor and the effects of shame. She is aware of her culture and the shame it will bring on her family if Hector does not return, yet she still “urged him” to change his mind as she is “weeping freely” (6.481-2). She begins to present herself as a victim when she asks “have you no pity for him, our helpless son? Or me, / and the destiny that weighs me down,…show more content…
Hector loves his family and does not want to cause them pain, but he really does not see abandoning the fight as an option. Her plea “weighs [him] down” (6.436), and he would “let the earth come piling over [his] dead body / before [he] hear[s] [Andromache’s] cries, [he] hears [her] dragged away” (6.554-5), but he does not really consider staying. Honor is extremely important to Hector. He is expected and return to battle because that is his role in society, and the thought of dishonor threatens his individual identity. But Andromache is not a warrior, and her role in society is to be a wife and mother. She still asks Hector to stay, knowing that her family will be shamed, unveiling how she does not regard Greek values as highly as she does family. She is willing to risk shame and glory because it is not primary for a wife like it is for a

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