Mythological Heroes: Achilles and HerculesThe subject of mythology deals mainly with the notion of battle, or goodversus evil. In this struggle many individuals are singled out for either theevil they cause, or from the good they bring to people.
When you mention heroesin mythology, there are two distinct names that a majority of people bring up,those names are Achilles and Hercules. Achilles was born to King Peleus and the sea-nymph Thetis. Soon afterAchilles was born his mother dipped him in the River Styx, she was told, bydoing this, that the water would make every part of his body that it touchedinvincible. Little did she know that the one part of his heel which he washeld by would not touch the water.Order now
When Achilles mother found out about the war in Troy between the Greeksand the Trojans she did not want her son to fight because she knew that hewould eventually be killed there. The way that she tried to prevent him fromgoing into the army was to hide him among the women of the court so that hecould not be persuaded by his close friend Odysseus to join the Greek forces. While trying to find Achilles, Odysseus easily spotted him among the women, andpersuaded him to join the Greek army. After many years of battle with the Trojan forces, Achilles ended up ina famed duel with Trojan hero Hector, over the slaying of Achilles close friendPatroclus. After killing Hector, Achilles tied his dead body behind a chariotand dragged around the walls of Troy seven times to show his hatred and angertowards the Trojans and their hero. Shortly after the famed battle, Achilleswas killed when he was struck, with a poisonous arrow, in the one small spot onhis heel which was vulnerable.
The arrow was fired by the Trojan prince Parisand was guided by the sun god Apollo. Hercules was the strongest and swiftest man ever to walk the earth. Asthe son of Zeus and mortal woman Alcmene, Hercules was destined to be a hero. This destiny was shown before he was one year old. Enraged at his affair witha mortal woman, Zeus’ wife Hera set out on a plot to kill Hercules. One night after Alcmene put her children to bed, Hercules’ twin brotherIphicles was awoken by two huge serpents that were sent by Hera to kill the sonof Zeus.
When Hercules awoke he grasped the two snakes in order to play withthem, and squeezed the life right out of them. When Alcmene awoke to see whatall the commotion was about, she was amazed at the sight of her infant sonholding two snakes that he had killed with his bare hands. When Hercules grew to manhood, he married and had six sons, and againfell victim to Hera’s hatred towards him. What Hera did was send a fit ofmadness upon Hercules who mistook his wife and children for enemies and killedthem.
When his sanity returned he realised what he had done he shut himself upfrom the world for a long time. After a long time in seclusion Hercules finallyemerged and went to the Oracle of Delphi to beg for punishment for his crime. Hercules was sent to King Eurystheus and told that the king would assign apunishment to Hercules. The punishment was to perform twelve nearly impossibletasks which are known as the twelve labours of Hercules.
The first of these tasks was to kill and skin the Nemean Lion, whoseskin could not be punctured by any weapon. His second labour was to kill theHydra of Lerna which had numerous heads, one of which was immortal. Every timeone of the mortal heads was cut off two or three new heads would grow in itsplace. The third of his tasks was go to the Ceryneian Hill and capture abeautiful bronze-hoofed hind without spilling one drop of its blood. For hisfourth task Hercules was to capture alive a huge wild boar which often killedhumans and lived on Mount Erymanthus.
The fifth task assigned to Hercules wasto clean the filth of many years out of the stables of King Augeias of Elis. The sixth labour of the great Greek hero was to get rid of a flock of birdswhich resided in the Stymphalian Marsh. The birds had long straight bronzebeaks, sharp bronze claws, and a taste for human flesh. For his next labour,Hercules was to capture the wild bull of Crete.
For the eighth task Herculeswas to bring King Eurystheus the mares of the King Diometes. These mares werefed human flesh for food. The ninth labour Hercules was to perform was to go tothe tribe of the feared Amazon women and steal the golden girdle of Hippolyta,the Amazon queen. Hercules tenth task was to bring King Eurystheus the cattleof Geryon. Geryon was the owner of the cattle and he split above the waistinto three bodies which were difficult to defeat.
Hercules’ eleventh task was totry and find the Garden of Hesperides and fetch the fruit from the golden appletree, this was difficult for him because he had no idea where the Garden ofHesperides was. For his twelfth and final labour Hercules was venture the mostfeared place on earth, the realm of Hades, and bring up the three-headedwatchdog Cerberus. After spending nearly his entire life completing the twelve labours,Hercules decided to settle down and he married the fair maiden Deianeira. WhenDeianeira was captured by a centaur named Nessus, Hercules shot the centaurwith a poisoned arrow.
With the centaur’s dying breath he gave Deianeira avial of his poisoned blood telling her she could use it to rekindle Hercules’love for her if it ever faded. One day when she felt that his lovewas fading,she made him a robe that was dipped in the blood. When Hercules received thegift from his wife he was overjoyed and put it on, almost immediately his skinstarted to burn and he caught on fire. Knowing his death was near he called hisservants to bring him a funeral pyre which he placed himself on. As the pyreburned it was carried up to Mount Olympus where he became the god of strength. Each of these heroes have at least one thing that separate them fromregular men, something that is special about them.
For Achilles it is hisinvulnerability and his incredible courage that make him a great Greek hero. For Hercules it is his god-like strength, and his luck of being the son of theking of the gods. Each of these Greek heroes was destined to be great at avery early age. Just after Achilles was born he was dipped in the River Styx byhis mother which made him invincible. In the case of Hercules, his heroiceffort was shown when he was less than one year old when he saved himself andhis brother from two deadly serpents.
Both of these warriors fought great battles and suffered tremendoushardships, neither of them were perfect, they both had their faults. In thecase of Achilles, during the Trojan War, in the middle of battle his favouriteslavegirl was taken away from him and instead of continuing to battle, he stayedin his tent and sulked until his close friend ,Patroclus, was killed. ForHercules, his temper was his weak spot, it could be easily become deadly if hewas told to do something that he did not want to do. One thing that both men possess a great deal of is courage. Neither ofthese great heroes would back down to any challenge or battle that would comebefore them, no matter how hard the battle may be both of these great men woulddie trying. Out of all the many stories told about mythology, the stories ofthese twogreat men will never be forgotten.
Both of these men conquered hardships, andturmoil. They overcame all of these ailments to conquer their task and fulfiltheir goal, qualities which could regard them as two of the greatest heroes ofall time.English