If I should ever return to see / my beloved country again, my wife, and my home, / may some stranger come and chop my head from my body / if I do not smash this damned bow into pieces and toss it onto the fire – so utterly useless it is.
Pandarus is known for his lethal skill with a bow. It is this ability that singles him out in the Trojan army. When he fails to kill Diomedes or Menelaus, he describes his frustration and shame first by assuming there are gods working against him. This is, in a sense, accurate, or rather it is true there are gods working on behalf of the people he is trying to kill. However, gods or not, Pandarus’s failure means he will not get the glory of killing these Greek heroes. Pandarus claims if he goes home after the war and keeps his bow, he deserves to be decapitated rather than left to live with his family. The stakes of earning his glory on the battlefield are so high that he cannot imagine a peaceful life if he continues to fail.
There are two ways I might die. If I stay here / and keep on fighting around the city of Troy, / I can never go home, but my glory will live forever; / but if I return in my ships to my own dear country, / my glory will die, but my life will be long and peaceful.
When Achilles says this quote, he believes returning home to a long, anonymous life to be the better option than glory by death on the battlefield. He gives a long speech convincing Odysseus how good his life will be back home, but he almost sounds like he is convincing himself as well. Although it is revenge rather than glory that eventually does lead Achilles back to battle, the poem glorifies him for picking up his weapons again. Whatever Achilles’s personal motivations for fighting are, he gains glory in the story because he goes back to war. It is unlikely The Iliad would give him the same noble treatment if he instead went home and lived anonymously with family.
Why are you acting like this? You are wrong to sulk / and steep your heart in such anger [about Helen and Menelaus]. Our people are dying . . . / and it is your fault this miserable war / has flared up around sacred Ilion. You yourself / would tear into anyone else who hung back from the fighting.
Hector chastises Paris on several occasions for his actions in the war. Paris’s kidnapping of Helen is the reason the Trojans and Achaeans are fighting in the first place, yet Paris is not particularly capable or enthusiastic on the battlefield. When Hector goes home to encourage his family to pray for victory, he finds Paris at home with Helen. Hector rebukes his brother for choosing to stay home after Aphrodite rescues Paris from his duel with Menelaus. Hector wants Paris to take responsibility for his place in the war before he enjoys the spoils of it in the form of his wife and comfort at home.