Story of Heracles Compared to Heroic Character of Superman Paper Analysis

Two Substantial Responses (around 125 words each) due Sunday by 11:30 PM ET: In your Substantial Responses to classmates, further develop the interpretations of two classmates by offering a bit of analysis regarding some aspect of their Greek hero posts. Reflect on how some aspect(s) of your own life journey are similar or different from theirs.

(1) It is a fact that Greek and Roman mythology share the same Gods and Heroes and I find it curiously interesting that Greek and Roman cultures maintain a level of separation. Undoubtedly, the most famous Hero in Greco-Roman mythology is Heracles (Greek) most commonly known as Hercules (Roman). Heracles is identified as a man, possessing super human strength and bravery, and was the son to the King of the Zeus, and was mostly hated by his step-mother Hera. Heracles being the son of Zeus was half-human and half God and was not known for any physical transformation other than having the shape of a muscular and athletic body of a male. However, his life story speaks volumes of feats of bravery, passionate acts, mistakes committed and redemptive justice and completing human impossible acts thus reaching immortality to live amongst the Gods upon his physical death.

Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey comprises of three concepts: departure, initiation, and return. The act of departure manifested early in the life of Heracles as Greek mythology tells it, Heracles experienced an above average academia and was the star pupil. He was mentored by the best achieving mastery in chariot riding, wrestling, archery, fencing, boxing, writing and secret literature, music education in the lyre. Heracles earliest initiation to become a hero occurs at the age of 18. Heracles slays the Lion of Cithaeron, a ferocious and cunning beast that preyed on the livestock of Amphitryonic and Thespian people. Heracles reverently hunted the Lion of Cithaeron for fifty days and was successful in killing the terror, thereafter Heracles wore the fur of the Lion and donning the Lions’ head as his helmet. For this act of bravery Heracles became the savior of the Greek people. A local elder, highly impressed by Heracles’ strength, sent all 50 daughters to Heracles’ bed and in one-night Heracles impregnated each one who gave birth to at least one child. Heracles hero’s return comes as he attempts to redeem himself after killing his second wife and eight children in a fit of madness via an evil spell that was cast on him by one of his enemies. As Greek legends tells the tale, Heracles experienced extreme grief and depression and attempts to atone for his sin, and after consulting with the Delphic oracle, Heracles is directed to serve Eurystheus, King of Tiryns. This King charged Heracles with 12 labors, of which Heracles finished in 12 years to do and in the end, he was granted immortality upon his death and restoring honor to his name and reputation.

The story of Heracles can be best compared to the contemporary heroic character of Superman. Both characters possessed superhuman strength, beauty and bravery and use their powers for good against evil. In contrast, Heracles fathered many children and married at least twice while Superman did not. In my life I can relate my adventure of becoming a resident of the USA, being originally from South Africa. To some of my family and friends, I may be a hero because I have completed something that they may never have the courage to do. These characters fit Campbells’ pattern of a hero’s journey.

  • Departure- self awakening realizing that they were created for a purpose greater than themselves, they served the greater good.
  • Initiation – they created heroic moments through trial and adversity to become a hero someone.
  • Return- Each character was not born a hero but were made to be one. The act of heroism requires the endurance to undergo difficult trials and tribulations, but they never surrender to fear and despair.

(2) The Greek character that I chose is Hercules. Hercules was the male illegitimate son of Zeus, ruler of all the Gods of Mt. Olympus. Hercules was hated by Hera, Zeus’ wife, from the moment she learned that he was in his mother’s womb. Once born, Hera attempted to kill Hercules by having two poisonous snakes placed in the infant’s crib, but Hercules, who was strong and fearless from a very young age, strangled the snakes and killed them. Hera did not cease to attempt to hurt Hercules throughout his life. He was very strong and would easily become angered, and did not know how to use his strength or control his temper. One day, Hera cast a spell on Hercules when he was a young adult, married to Megara, whom he had children with. This spell led him to go insane, causing him to murder his wife and children. Once Hercules returned to his normal state, he discovered the horrible acts he committed and was devastated. According to, Hercules sought out the oracle, Delphi, to ask how he could atone for his actions. The oracle told him to go to King Eurystheus of Tiryns and accept any punishment bestowed upon him. Delhi also told Hercules that if he completed his tasks set upon him, that he would become immortal.

Ordinary World: Hercules endured the hatred of Hera from the moment he was through the time he grew up. This was his reality, his ordinary world.

Call to Adventure: Hercules, although he did not realize it yet, was called to action while in his crib. Two poisonous snakes were placed in his crib in an attempt to kill him. Hercules ended up strangling the snakes due to his curiosity, fearlessness, and courage.

Refusal of the Call: Hercules did not have an opportunity to refuse the initial call to adventure, as he was a newborn and accidently answered his initial call to action.

Meeting the Mentor: Athena assists Hercules with protection from Hera

Crossing the Threshold: Hercules deciding to become married and become a father to three sons is another way her challenges death and targets a life of satisfaction.

Tests, Allies, Enemies: Hera casts a spell on Hercules causing him to become temporarily insane, which leads him to kill his wife and children, which is indicative that Hercules wasn’t strong enough to prevent himself from becoming a victim of Hera’s rage.

Approach to the Inmost Cave: Hercules sought out the oracle, Delphi, in order to redeem himself for the awful acts he committed against his wife and children. Hercules was faced with the death of his family and death is something that Hercules defied from a very young age.

Ordeal: Hercules’ ordeal are the 12 dangerous and difficult tasks he was presented with, known as the Twelve Labors of Hercules. He does this in order to seek redemption for his feebleness that led to the deaths of his loved ones at his hands.

Reward: Hercules achieves immortality after completing the twelve difficult tasks.

The Road Back: Hercules completes other quests and falls back in love with Princess Iole of Oechalia.

Resurrection Hero: Hercules’ third wife thought he was interested in Iole. After being fooled by a dying Nessus, she thought she could prevent Hercules from having affairs if she create a mixture of centaur blood and semen, and that it would prevent Hercules from betraying her. Hercules unsuspectingly put on the shirt soaked with the centaur’s poisoned blood and semen causing excruciating burns to his flesh. Hercules choose a voluntary death, which led him to becoming transformed into an immortal by the gods.

Return with Elixir: After Hercules’ demigod body is burned, his mortal flesh is burned away, leaving Hercules as a full blooded god.

The modern champion that I would associate to Hercules would be Jean Grey from the X-Men Marvel Comics. Jean Grey is an American mutant hero with telepathic and telekinetic abilities. In the beginning, she was unable to control her abilities and would accidently hurt others physically with her telekinetic ability when she would become angry, overwhelmed, or confused. Her anger and confusion would often lead her to read other’s minds without their consent. She was offered assistance, guidance, and training by Professor Charles Xavier, the founder of the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters, which she accepted because she did not want to hurt anyone and wanted to learn how to control her dark side. Jean Grey and Hercules share similar journeys because they both possessed superhuman abilities that they were not able to control on their own, at first. They both had to go through some form of life changing event to want to change.

Life is a journey in which different choices in life leads you down different paths. The choices we make will help us open doors to new adventures in our life. As a child, I had to face my own difficult tasks that tormented me. The torment was predominantly bullies. My father assisted my progression on my long journey by teaching me how to channel my strength and learn the ability of defending myself. I also used my new physical strength to defend the weak in my school who were also bullied. This journey helped shape me to the person that I am today and it helped me see myself in a better light.