1. Hector - The Iliad
Out of the classical epics that have to do with the Trojan War, there are several characters that could potentially go on this list of hotties, because let's face it -- they were pretty badass, and all that fighting has to add hotness points. But Hector is the only one who comes to mind when I think about which ones weren't total jerks. Achilles? Murderous jerk. Agamemnon? Cheating jerk. Paris? Wimpy jerk. Odysseus? Jerk noted for his lying ability. Hector? Not really a jerk at all. Actually rather noble and decent to his family. There you go.
2. Beatrice - Much Ado About Nothing
Beatrice has long been one of my very favorite Shakespearian heroines because she is smart, funny, and strong, and for these reasons, I think she ranks among the hottest as well (way hotter than her cousin Hero who gets most of the attention in the play). Incredibly gifted in the art of verbal sparring (which definitely wins points with me), she could cut someone dead with a single comment, yet even though she does a good job hiding it, she is vulnerable too, soft enough to fall in love, though of course only with Benedick, her very able sparring partner. She's fiery too, raging against the injustice done her cousin: "O God, that I were a man! I would eat his heart in the market-place." She's pretty awesome.
3. Sam Spade - The Maltese Falcon
It would never work out between us, I know this is true. But since I go into most relationships armed with this knowledge, this is not a roadblock. Sam Spade is cool as hell, slightly rumpled, with a cynical grin that I imagine is completely disarming. Let's say it is. Other than the fact that "he looked rather pleasantly like a blond Satan," which, despite all those years of Sunday School I went to, is pretty hot, I fell for Sam Spade a little bit when he tells the femme fatale "I hope to Christ they don't hang you, precious, by that sweet neck." I'm not sure what that says about me, that this was the line that really got me, and it's probably best if I don't think about it too much. Anyway, in this entirely fictional scenario, I don't know who would leave whom in the end, but I'm sure it would involve sneaking out in the early morning, no notes, no apologies, it was what it was, but it's time to move on, sweetheart.
4. Elizabeth Bennet - Pride and Prejudice
Despite my crush on Emma's Mr. Knightley, I have to say that when it comes to hot characters to come out of Jane Austen novels, Elizabeth Bennet wins easily. Clever and quick-witted, active and lively, she doesn't just sit around in drawing rooms and embroider things. Sometimes mildly self-deprecating, yet strong enough to speak her mind, she's smart and feisty and completely timeless. And a total hit at parties.
5. James Bond - take your pick
Certainly best known from the films, I say he counts because he first appeared in a novel. And really, is there a fictional character hotter than James Bond? No. There's something to be said for a man who looks dashing in a tuxedo. It's a very handy skill to have. Also, he drives the best cars. And always gets the bad guy. And did I mention the tuxedo thing? And yes, I know this has to do with a film version, but after I saw Casino Royale I texted a friend and said "I want to be James Bond when I grow up." Even though I don't want to be a guy or a British secret agent or wear tuxedos or really even drink martinis (I'm more of a bourbon kind of girl), it's totally true.