Home > Iliad, The > Nice Guys vs. Jerks

Nice Guys vs. Jerks

Any guy could tell you that the nice guys never get the girls. Girls always seem to gravitate towards jerks who are full of themselves. Homer seems to have understood this fact as well. Consider the chain of events at the end of Book 1 of The Iliad.

Here are the characters:

  • Zeus (the jerk)
  • Hephaestus (the nice guy)
  • Hera (the girl)

The scene starts with Zeus and Hera arguing. Hera is accusing Zeus of going behind her back and making a deal with another goddess against her wishes.

Zeus tells her that she is always suspicious of everything he does and to stop whining (even though Hera was right – He really did go behind her back). But Hera keeps pushing the matter. Finally Zeus tells her that even if she is right (which she is), there’s nothing she can do about it.


Even if what you say is true, then that is my pleasure.

Now go sit down. Be quiet now. Obey my orders.

He says that if she continues to fight with him, it won’t change anything except make him more angry with her. He then blames her for pushing him away in their relationship. These are your classic over-confident jerk tactics.

Now enter Hephaestus, the nice guy. He begs Hera to stop arguing with Zeus, he whines about how much of a jerk Zeus is, and then he offers to try and fix matters himself. Hera doesn’t even respond to him.

Eventually Hephaestus runs off and does try to fix things on his own. He makes a meal for everyone to try to calm the tension. But do any of the other gods appreciate this? No, it says that they just sat back and laughed at him:


Uncontrollable laughter broke from the happy gods

as they watched the god of fire breathing hard

and bustling through the halls.

Hephaestus is a guy who commands no respect whatsoever. This is the ultimate problem with ‘nice guys’. Niceness is well and good, but at the end of the day both men and women will appreciate you more if you just commanded some respect. Most people could really care less about how ‘nice’ you are. Everyone knows of that one guy who all the girls call ‘sweet’, and ‘a great friend’ but has never dated any of them.

Homer nails the point home at the end of Book 1. He points out that after the banquet (where everyone laughed at Hephaestus) all the gods, including Zeus, go to sleep in their high halls which Hephaestus had built for them. In the very last lines, Homer also lets us know who gets the girl:


There Zeus climbed and there he slept and by his side

lay Hera the Queen, the goddess of the golden throne.

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