The Iliad

Honor and Glory Theme Analysis

Themes and Colors
Honor and Glory Theme Icon
The Gods Theme Icon
Fate and Free Will Theme Icon
Wartime Versus Peacetime Theme Icon
Mortality Theme Icon
Love and Friendship Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Iliad, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Honor and Glory Theme Icon

One of the central ideas of the Iliad is the honor that soldiers earn in combat. For an ancient Greek man, the ability to perform in battle is the single greatest source of worthiness. The glory earned by soldiers on the battlefield enabled them to live on in legend, becoming heroes who would be remembered long after death. The characters of the Iliad often make reference to the great heroes of past ages, such as Hercules and Theseus. For the ancient Greeks, the term “hero” meant something stricter than it does today: the hero’s military glory could make him nearly as important as a god.

The plot of the poem is centered on the “rage of Achilles” and the fulfillment of his glory on the battlefield. Achilles’s rage stems from feeling dishonored by Agamemnon, who takes away Briseis, a woman that Achilles has captured in combat. Achilles chooses not to fight rather than accept what he sees as Agamemnon’s dishonor. Later, when he rejoins the battle after the death of Patroclus, Achilles proves he is “the best of the Achaeans” by giving the greatest military performance of the war and finally killing Hector, the Trojans’ greatest warrior.

From a modern perspective, one might consider Hector to be a more sympathetic or even honorable character than Achilles. Hector cares for his wife, child, and city, and works tirelessly to save them from destruction. Achilles cares only for himself, and spends a large part of the poem sulking. However, from the ancient Greek perspective, Achilles is in some sense more heroic or honorable simply because he is the greatest warrior on the battlefield. Similarly, Paris is a handsome man and a good lover, but because he hangs back from battle he is largely the object of scorn, and is portrayed as a ridiculous figure throughout the poem.

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Honor and Glory ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Honor and Glory appears in each section of The Iliad. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Honor and Glory Quotes in The Iliad

Below you will find the important quotes in The Iliad related to the theme of Honor and Glory.
Book 1 Quotes

Rage—Goddess, sing the rage of Peleus’ son Achilles,
murderous, doomed, that cost the Achaeans countless losses,
hurling down to the House of Death so many sturdy souls,
great fighter’ souls, but made their body carrion,
feasts for the dogs and birds,
and the will of Zeus was moving toward its end.
Begin, Muse, when the two first broke and clashed,
Agamemnon lord of men and brilliant Achilles.

Related Characters: Achilles, Zeus, Agamemnon
Page Number: 1.1-8
Explanation and Analysis:

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Someday, I swear, a yearning for Achilles will strike
Achaea’s sons and all your armies!

Related Characters: Achilles (speaker)
Page Number: 1.281-282
Explanation and Analysis:

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Book 2 Quotes

I and Achilles…Ah if the two of us
could ever think as one, Troy could delay
her day of death no longer, not one moment.

Related Characters: Agamemnon (speaker), Achilles
Page Number: 2.448-452
Explanation and Analysis:

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Book 4 Quotes

We claim we are far, far greater than our fathers.
We are the ones who stormed the seven gates of Thebes,
heading a weaker force and facing stronger walls
but obeying the gods’ signs and backed by Zeus.
Our fathers? Fools. Their own bravado killed them.
Don’t tell me you rank our fathers with ourselves!

Related Characters: Sthenelus (speaker), Zeus
Page Number: 4.471-476
Explanation and Analysis:

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Book 5 Quotes

Then Pallas Athena granted Tydeus’ son Diomedes
strength and daring—so the fighter would shine forth
and tower over the Argives and win himself great glory.

Related Characters: Athena, Diomedes
Page Number: 5.1-3
Explanation and Analysis:

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Book 6 Quotes

Like the generations of leaves, the lives of mortal men.

Related Characters: Glaucus (speaker)
Page Number: 6.171
Explanation and Analysis:

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Why so much grief for me?
No man will hurl me down to Death, against my fate.
And fate? No one alive has ever escaped it,
neither brave man nor coward, I tell you—
it’s born with us the day that we are born.

Related Characters: Hector (speaker), Andromache
Page Number: 6.580-584
Explanation and Analysis:

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Book 7 Quotes

But about the dead, I’d never grudge their burning.
No holding back for the bodies of the fallen:
once they are gone, let fire soothe them quickly.

Related Characters: Agamemnon (speaker)
Page Number: 7.471-473
Explanation and Analysis:

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Book 9 Quotes

I say no wealth is worth my life...a man’s life breath cannot come back again.

Related Characters: Achilles (speaker)
Page Number: 9.488-495
Explanation and Analysis:

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Mother tells me,
the immortal goddess Thetis with her glistening feet,
that two fates bear me on to the day of death.
If I hold out here and I lay siege to Troy,
my journey home is gone, but my glory never dies.
If I voyage back to the fatherland I love,
my pride, my glory dies . . .
true, but the life that’s left me will be long,
the stroke of death will not come on me quickly.

Related Characters: Achilles (speaker), Thetis
Page Number: 9.497-505
Explanation and Analysis:

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Book 12 Quotes

Fight for your country—that is the best, the only omen!

Related Characters: Hector (speaker)
Related Symbols: Zeus’ Eagle
Page Number: 12.281
Explanation and Analysis:

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Book 22 Quotes

Past the threshold of old age…
and Father Zeus will waste me with a hideous fate,
and after I’ve lived to look on so much horror!
My sons laid low, my daughters dragged away…
Ah for a young man
all looks fine and noble if he goes down in war,
hacked to pieces…When an old man’s killed
and the dogs go at the gray head and the gray beard…that is the cruelest sight
in all our wretched lives!

Related Characters: Priam (speaker), Zeus
Page Number: 22.70-89
Explanation and Analysis:

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Achilles went for him, fast, sure of his speed
as the wild mountain hawk, the quickest thing on wings,
launching smoothly, swooping down on a cringing dove
and the dove flits out from under, the hawk screaming...his fury
driving him down to beak and tear his kill—
so Achilles flew at him, breakneck on in fury
with Hector fleeing along the walls of Troy.

Related Characters: Achilles, Hector
Page Number: 22.165-172
Explanation and Analysis:

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