Analysis of Hector’s Speech
Hector’s Distain of Paris’ Actions For many years the Trojans and Achaeans have spent their time fighting and being at odds with one another and the root of it all is one man-Paris. Hector makes a speech to his brother Paris condemning his actions for cowering away at the sight of Menelaus on the battlefield. Through Hector’s word choice one is able to detect the tone that he is to be speaking in and what emotions he is feeling.
As an older brother and citizen of Troy, Hector is trying to make Paris feel guilty for being a weakling and not facing Menelaus when Paris is obviously in the wrong because of his inability to prove his bravery and as a result shrunk away for a foreseeable conflict. Through everything that happens Hector is really only trying to make Paris see that he is not being honorable and should be because that is what the right thing to do is.
In the introduction before the speech actually began it gives insight to Hector’s tone.
With a taunting voice full of “insults and stinging taunts” (3. 42) Hector begins to criticize Paris for being a womanizer, because through those actions he is making everyone’s lives much more difficult through his actions of being “mad for women” (3. 44) and “luring them all to ruin” (3. 44).
Paris and other warriors in ranks and Paris is strutting around acting adept when suddenly he sees Menelaus rushing towards him ready to fight and suddenly gets scared for his life and begins to back away from the edge to avoid being seen.
As Hector sees his brother cowering away he begins to degrade him, which is where the speech begins, because he is the reason for the war in the first place. In addition, Hector believes that if the Achaeans knew how Paris was reacting to Menelaus that his entire army would laugh at his cowardice. Paris’ retreat from conflict makes Hector feel that Paris is making a fool out of himself and the rest of Troy. Hector begins to insult Paris by saying that he is dishonoring himself and Troy as well by making them “a mockery in the eyes of our enemies” (3.
Hector is only trying to make Paris see what wrongs he has done and how he has done nothing since to restore honor to him and to Troy. But since Paris obviously has no honor, Hector feels that he should be the one to try and get Paris to man up and defend what is his and his own action. Since the war began many people have been fighting and dying for a cause. The Achaeans it was to return Helen to their land and the Trojans, their pride. But the basis of the war was Helen.
Paris took her away from her husband Menelaus ten years ago because Aphrodite promised Paris the most beautiful woman in the world.
So now, Hector is reminding Paris because that took extreme courage to rob a man who comes from “a land of rugged spearmen” (3. 57) At one time Paris was a brave warrior, but now that he has won his prize he does not want to for fear of dying. While thinking that way is logical, it does not make a brave and honest man and if you were not strong enough to face an honorable death, you were full of shame. Hector feels that Paris is being a weakling and he should stand up to the man he “robbed of his sumptuous warm wife” (3.
Menelaus is full of rage and completely willing to fight for his wife Helen’s return to her home. But it seems that Paris simply wants to be safe at home, not fight and keep his prize Helen safe with him. Through what is being said to Paris one can tell that Hector is a typical older brother, trying to get the younger one to do something that he should do while making him feel inferior at the same time. One can tell by what Hector says: They thought you the bravest champion we could field, and just because of the handsome luster on your limbs, but you have no pith, no fighting strength inside you (3.
0-53). Hector is essentially telling Paris that he is being weak even though he should be the bravest. Paris was the bravest warrior they had at one point, but after he completed a task that was beneficial for him he stopped being a warrior even though he is the reason for the war anyways because he stole Helen all those years ago. Paris should feel guilty for forcing others to fight his battle while he does nothing. Although Helen is safe there in Troy she is still strongly connected to the Achaeans because she was Menelaus’ wife.
But even with that being so, Hector begins to say to Paris that since he took Menelaus’ wife, that Paris he does not deserve all the treasures and gifts Aphrodite gave him such as ” your long flowing locks and striking looks” (3.
64). This is because Hector feels that since Paris is being such a coward and all of the things that he has been given, such as all of the superficial qualities that he possesses now that will be of no use to him when he begins to “roll and couple with the dust” (3. 65) Hector has very strong feelings about the negative way Paris has been acting.
Paris has not been in battle at all, and he is the reason it started in the first place! Hector is extremely furious with the way Paris acted and lets it be known not only to him, but those who are surrounding them as it was said. Paris was afraid of a foreseeable death from the man who he robbed of his wife.
But during that time it would have been an honorable death to die during battle because it was for a cause. Hector feels that Paris should feel the same way he does about honor, and face the enemy head on. But without honor, it does not mean much at all.