Sir, I wish that your body had stayed as strong / as the heart in your breast; but old age lies heavy upon you. / If only this frailty had happened to someone else / and you remained at the height of your youthful vigor!

Nestor is a major force behind Achaean successes in The Iliad, but, as Agamemnon laments in this quote, Nestor is old. His contributions consist largely of offering counsel and rallying forces, which are often crucial interventions. However, the text says he used to be a warrior as well. Nestor himself even laments the limitations of his body in his old age, wishing he could join in the things he encourages others to do. Aging is a natural consequence of time, meaning all the other human warriors who are at their prime in the war will eventually share Nestor’s experience. They will have the wisdom of their years, but not the strength to use that wisdom in battle on their own.

Hector, you are my everything now: my father, / my mother, my brother – and my beloved husband. / Have pity on me. Stay with me here on the tower. Don’t make your child an orphan, your wife a widow.

Andromache has lost all her family in the war, and she knows she will also lose Hector if he returns to battle. She details the death of each family member, revealing the individual pain of each loss. Her speech begging her husband to stay shows the deeply human experience of impermanence and grief. Andromache knows loss, and she knows she cannot keep the people she loves forever, but she desperately wants to delay the loss of Hector as long as she can. Andromache knows her pleading won’t stop his death, or even likely stop him from returning to the battlefield, but she cares too much not to try. Of course, Hector does not stay with her, and he does die. The strength of her desire cannot protect him forever, no matter how hard she tries.

I know how mighty you are and that I am much weaker, / yet these things lie in the hands of the gods. Although / I am the lesser man, I might still take your life / with a throw of my spear. It is as sharp as yours is.

Hector knows that Achilles is stronger than him, but he confronts Achilles anyway, knowing it only takes one well-placed move to drastically change the outcome of a fight. Hector has already been warned he is likely to meet his death soon, but he argues the will of the gods can save him. Men, unlike gods, are fallible. Even men who acquire great legacies in the Greek stories are assisted by the gods. Men on their own are inescapably vulnerable.