This paper discusses the character and behavior of two Heroes in the Iliad with the aim of explaining the Geeks’ concept of pride. Considering the lives of Achilles and Patroclus, as presented in the Iliad, it is clear that for ancient Greek heroes, honor meant everything.
In actual sense, a Greek warrior or man would rather choose to die than be ashamed or embarrassed by someone else. Honor meant so much to them that they did everything to attain it. Honor was the lifetime goal of every ancient Greek man and people sought it at all costs.
Unfortunately, their concept of honor could be interpreted as foolhardy pride in our days. As will be shown through focus on Achilles and Patroclus, had they not been driven by their pride, they would not have met with their downfall; the way they did.
Achilles was a great Greek warrior who had helped the Greek with his might and skills. Like all Greek men, he wanted to do his people proud and the people were proud of him. However, his desire for honor leads to his downfall when he confronts the king over a woman. He had been given the woman as a prize for his valor in war against the Trojans.
When the king takes away the woman (prize he had given to Achilles), Achilles out of pride challenges the king and refuses to go to war. His decision not to go to war against the Trojans is what prompted Patroclus to pick up his armor to face Hector. Moreover, apart from refusing to fight for the Greek, Achilles out of pride chooses to argue or disobey the gods.
Priam, his mother intervenes, and again out of pride, Achilles chooses glory over a long life. In the life of Achilles, one can see pride or honor being prioritized over every other important thing. For instance, it is out of pride that Achilles refuses to go to battle prompting his friend Patroclus to stand in to lead the Greek armies against the Trojans.
Patroclus, just like Achilles, was a great warrior. He was one of the great warriors from the Greek side and would have been instrumental in defeating Hectors on behalf of the Achaeans.
However, desire for honor and pride got the better of him. Hectors was more skilled and the only person who could match him from the Greek side was Achilles. Patroclus had been warned against engaging or fighting Hector because he was not his match. However, as it would have been expected of any Greek hero, Patroclus goes against every warning that he should not engage Hectors in a battle.
Having won a number of battles, he is so full of himself that he thinks not engaging or fighting Hectors is a cowardly act. Secondly, he also stands up to Hectors to save himself the shame of having failed his people in a battle. Consequently, this willfulness leads him into dying at the hands of Hectors.
In conclusion, from the two examples given, it is clear that the Greek priced pride over all other values such as safety. It can also be noted that desire for honor and pride, among Greek heroes, was what propelled them to great heights but also what led to their downfall. In search for honor, the heroes did their people proud but out of pride they often became willful and untactful leading to their downfall.