Was Hector stupid for accepting Achilles's challenge?

I always see from modern people-esp people with an interest in military stuff (soldiers, history buffs, wargamers, etc)-is universal bash on Hector deciding to take Achilles in duel after Patroclus's death.

The universal agreement is Hector should have known better than to risk himself as the most important Trojan Commander just for the sake of honor. Some of the experienced soldiers and hardcore wargamers even say Hector shoulda seen an opportunity to destroy one of the Greek's major weapons by sending his army to capture Achilles or have archers fire on Achilles during the famous duel, reasoning with Achilles's capture or death the Greeks not only lose their best fighter they also lose their biggest morale booster. They argue this would have been a big blow to Greek morale. At minimal Hector should have avoided the duel since his ingenious leadership was a must in stopping the Greek invasion.

Instead Hector chose to duel and "died in vain", leading Troy's fall.

I am curious whats the reality if Hector decided to think like a modern general and get rid of Achilles on the spot? Was the decision to duel an objectively stupid one (as modern military would criticize)? Or is there a deeper reason why Hector could not have simply avoided the duel by staying in his city?

I mean many military officers, wargamers, history buffs, and modern audiences can't understand why "stupid honor" was worth making risky decision that would potentially lead to the downfall of your country! 

1 Answer

  • 3 months ago

    To soldiers of that time, honor is important above all else. 

    Every army and historical period, has rules of war to be adhered to. If one side doesn't follow those rules, then justice and order are replaced by outright barbarity.

    If their leader exhibits cowardice, then the soldiers quickly lose morale and may desert their commanders. They may even commit outright treachery if they feel the opponents exhibit greater honor than their formerly esteemed leaders. 

    Soldiers have traditionally been paid a pittance for their servitude. To risk their own lives requires a cause. Their own leaders must display courage or else all is lost.

    Of course Hector wouldn't have known the walls could be breached. He gave his life as an example to the men under his command. We can view the circumstance with 20/20 hindsight and know the end result. 

    Hector never had that luxury.

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