returning to Troy to gather his mother and all the noble women to offer prayers to Athena, Hector approaches his brother Paris, and hurls insults toward him for his prolonged absence from the war.
Helen, the mistress of Paris and woman whom the Achaean and Trojans have spent years of agony and suffering for, seductively speaks to Hector, first lamenting that she is not the wife of a better man, then softly encouraging him to, “Come in, rest on this seat with me…You are the one hit hardest by the fighting, Hector.” Hector responds in noble fashion,
“Don’t ask me to sit beside you here, Helen.
Love me as you do, you can’t persuade me now.
No time for rest. My heart races to help our Trojans—
they long for me, sorely, whenever I am gone…”
Hector, as his name indicates, heroically demonstrates himself as the holder of the Trojan army; he is a warrior of courage, honor, and steadfast devotion to his polis. He is not a warrior who recklessly seeks his own honor and glory; rather he is a patriot, someone who seeks glory out of necessity in order to preserve his own life and that of his people.
As Bernard Knox indicates, “Hector is a man who appears most himself in his relationships with others.” In refusing Helen’s seductive advances he shows himself, in contrast to his brother, as one dedicated to the task before him; the task of defending Troy and it’s people from falling to the raging Achaean armies. Unlike Paris, Hector does not give into those “lovely gifts of Aphrodite.”
Troy is at war, thus Hector sets his priorities in the proper relation to the circumstances. While Paris is most at home in his palace in the arms of his mistress Helen, Hector is a man of his country or polis, and, naturally, is most at home standing up for and defending his country. This reality establishes Hector -as the holder of Troy. “On him falls the whole burden of the war.”
However, it would be an overstatement to say that war was Hector’s native element. After refusing Helen’s...