Similarly, Hercules was also a special hero. He was a demigod who had superhuman strength. After murdering his family, Hercules was sentenced to twelve very dangerous labors. After Hercules died, he was considered as one of the greatest heroes in Greek Mythology. Both great Greek heroes are similar in many ways but also very different in early life and accomplishments.
But mainly what I found most interesting of all was that even though he was the god of war he was still able to be defeated by gods that were under his status and even by mortals or in other words humans. Which, in a way is very embarrassing for a god that is one of the twelve gods on Mount Olympus. So I decide that I want to know, why? So I started looking and looking for myths that would help me find the answer I was looking for and that is when I came across the myth of Ares and Hercules, another of Zeus sons. The god of war, Ares, was a very handsome looking god because he was able to make Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty and love, even feel in love with him while she was married to another man.
And yet, though circumstances have changed, people haven’t, and the need for heroes, for role models and beings of unfathomable perfection, has not dissipated from society even as the ancient hero has. In America today, the concept of a hero is much different. People in the ancient world were idolized because of inconceivable strength, wealth, or intelligence, however the people that modern Americans admire and model themselves after poses qualities such as selflessness, bravery, and determination that make them true role models. The heroes of ancient Greece were tall, terrible figures of herculean strength and superhuman power. They weren’t thought of as heroes for their personality or character, but for the massive number of soldiers slain in war or one-on-one duels won for their countries.
The tales of epic heroes have made a lasting impact on literate today. Almost everyone knows one story of a great epic hero. However, not many people know that the personalities, heroic qualities, and demonstrations of society differ from an Anglo-Saxon hero to a Greek hero. Beowulf and Achilles are two wonderful examples of the differences and similarities of an epic hero within two very unalike cultures. The stories of these two heroes have been told millions of times.
Swift-footed, lionhearted, terrible in his war cry, a sacker of cities, a charismatic leader, a stunning physical specimen, unconquerable…Achilles was the best of the Greeks at Troy”(Strauss 1). Achilles was the most feared warrior of his time and it made him famous beyond belief. This is why his death in Troy was so tragic to all of Greece. Achilles consuming rage is his tragic flaw, this stems from his sense of pride or Hubris. Achilles demonstrates his rage in his killing of Hector and by defiling his body.
Achilles and Hector are both great men and strong warriors, but they differ in many ways. When contrasting Hector and Achilles it is quite apparent who the better hero is of the two, Hector. Although Achilles is a powerful leader, a strong warrior, and has good traits about himself they do not amount to those of Hector. Achilles and Hector although, both strong warriors differ in their leadership, human qualities, and family lives. Hector and Achilles were both outstanding leaders at different times, and for different reasons.
“…Aeneas seized a great stone, so huge that two men, as men now are, would be unable to lift it, but Aeneas wielded it quite easily.” (The Iliad) This is a clue that it was common for people to have great respect for their ancestors at the time, and Homer reflects this in his poem. The poem brings more character and opinion into the Trojan War than a factual account. It shows the thoughts and feelings of many people, from their points of view. It attributes the victories of certain battles not only to those fighting, but also to the gods. The Iliad deals with the war on a huge scale, speaking of large armies congregating from all over Greece, and yet also on a more personal scale, showing the regret that Helen feels when she thinks of all those who have suffered and died because of her.
He showed great courage, strength, leadership and intrepidness. Beowulf defeated a beast that swooped up an entire room of people and ate them. He took his men on a dangerous voyage to Grendal’s deep, dark lair. Beowulf also demonstrated strength that a normal man couldn’t when he lifted a sword crafted for giants. Although Beowulf was an Anglo-Saxon hero centuries removed, his heroic attributes still appeal to heroes today.
The legend has become more of an idea that has been passed through many generations. Robin Hood was a hero and his story has changed significantly as time has passed. The legend has been able to adapt to centuries of different cultures and civilizations. Cawthorne’s expresses that “many of the themes and details of the tales of Robin Hood and his Merry Men have been borrowed from elsewhere, it seems clear that there was a seed of truth around which they coalesced”(53). As more and more time passes on it makes it even more difficult to pinpoint the true identity of Robin Hood.
The Iliad focuses its narrative on the glories of heroes in the Trojan War, particular Achilles and Hector. Although both are heroes for their side, they have complex personalities that explain their actions. Indeed, as one reads through the poem, it seems that they have nothing in common. They do not share motives for fighting, similar views concerning the immortals, or perspective concerning relationships of those around them, yet they are united by characteristics that constitute a hero as we understand one. Despite their differences, Achilles and Hector both place value on bravery, fight on behalf of others, and see the humanity in those they are fighting with and against.