Like a Woman: Hector and the Boundaries of Masculinity
In the midst of his final, definitive monologue, Hector turns wistfully away from the hard necessities of the moment to imagine a different world. There boys and girls flirt in the shade of a spring; there he can shed his armor and talk like a woman. But that protected space, which surfaces again fleetingly in the hut of Achilles in Book 24, cannot long survive the relentless masculine drive for status that so dominates the Iliad. In Hector's mind, as in the aftermath of the poem, the beauties of peace and intimacy are immediately swept aside by the force of destruction. Commentators have been drawn to the enigmatic phrase "from an oak or a rock," but, for me, the heart of this speech is in the verb oarizein, usually translated as "to chat or gossip." For [End Page 221] me, as for Hector, the prospect of a vacation from the need to reassert, endlessly, my right to exist, is sweet.2
Van Nortwick, Thomas. Spring 2001. "Like a Woman: Hector and the Boundaries of Masculinity." Arethusa 34(2): 221-235.
Johns Hopkins University Press