Analysis of the Myth of Hercules
A myth is a story, which is traditional in nature, and it talks about the early history of a group of individuals or a society. It also explains a social or natural occurrence and it almost always includes supernatural events or beings. Mythology, therefore, is a collection of different myths from the same society. These myths are passed down generations in form of stories and have an important role in society such as giving foundational tales. They are also used by society as a means by which they can confirm and express their religious norms, views, and values. The patterns of behavior found in the myths can be imitated by society as how they should behave in everyday life. Hercules is an example of a common mythology, which most people around the world are familiar with and they can get lessons from the story itself (Mauss, Hubert and Hertz). Although most individuals hold the belief that the Hercules myth is only about his endeavors as a hero, it also really shows how he could not have been a hero, especially in today’s society due to some of his actions. First, he killed his first wife and two children while in a rage, he also had to complete the twelve labors as a form of punishment and finally, he used questionable means to achieve his goals.
In today’s society, the myth of Hercules is quite common with it being turned into novels and movies, therefore this means that many people are familiar with it and view it as a tale of his heroic undertakings. In the ancient Greek society he was viewed as a hero because of his actions and courage, however, in modern society, some of his actions might not have been viewed as heroic (Stafford 140). First, he killed his wife and two children. The story goes that his stepmother, Hera, was jealous of her stepson from the beginning and she had wanted to get rid of him, for example; she sent two snakes to kill Hercules as a baby in his crib. Also, due to this jealousy, Hera caused Hercules to get so mad, get in a rage and kill his family. In today’s modern society he would have been viewed as a murderer for what he did to his family no matter the reasons he had. He would not have been viewed as a hero because his actions were not desirable and cannot be emulated by society. In the past, most people held the belief that heroes were beyond the bounds of the law and morality they could act however they wanted, therefore, Hercules’ actions were not scrutinized he got away with anything as long as he continued being the hero he was (Mauss, Hubert and Hertz). In modern society, however, people believe that everyone is accountable to the law, therefore, he would have gone to prison for the murder he committed and not had the opportunity to be the hero he was.
Next, he completed the twelve labors as a form of punishment to atone for killing his family. Most individuals today see the twelve labors as examples of heroic actions and they were since he completed them and along the way saved people from different situations due to his courage and strength. However, when we take to account the reasons why he had to complete the labors, he would not have been viewed as a hero. His actions would have been seen as the proper punishment for killing his family and not as heroic (Stafford 140). Another way is that he would not have been seen as a hero since the labors he was given to complete were not unachievable for him as a half-god. Therefore, this shows that his actions were not heroic because any half god could achieve them. When Hercules completed the twelve labors, he was to get the gift of immortality. This is not right due to the fact that heroes should not expect rewards after their heroic actions, therefore, this shows that he would not have been viewed as a hero (Mauss, Hubert and Hertz).
Finally, Hercules used questionable means to achieve his goals and his behavior was questionable. In modern society, as stated above everyone is expected to follow certain rules no matter what position they hold in a society which was not seen in Hercules’ case due to some of his actions. He had the reputation of being a womanizer and having a bad temper in his life. In one instance, Hercules’ wife was offered by a centaur his blood as a form of protection against his straying eyes showing that he was not faithful to his wife or had given her reason to doubt him. His womanizing was not a behavior which today’s society would condone therefore they would hesitate from calling him a hero (Mauss, Hubert and Hertz). Hercules also took part in the sack of Troy where they invaded Troy in the fight for Helen. During the invasion, many innocent lives were lost and even though Hercules’ side was fighting for the right thing they used the wrong means to achieve this therefore in a modern society he would have been viewed as a mass murderer. Finally, he was so powerful that he defeated gods like Ares and Hades. This would have been scary in today’s society since we are just mere mortals and if he decided to destroy us he would do it without anyone to stop him especially since he was known for his bad temper therefore if anyone went against him there is a chance humans would suffer his wrath (Stafford 140)
In conclusion, the myth of Hercules is a story about heroism and that is not disputed as in the story he does many heroic acts. However, when his actions are scrutinized, it is noted that some of them were not ones that today’s society would view as heroic or expect from a hero. He was from a period of time where heroes were not held up to the same moral standards as the rest of society, therefore, he could act the way he wanted without any consequences. He killed his family and his punishment was to complete twelve labors. The completion of these twelve labors was what made up most of his heroic acts, which is wrong as they were meant to be a form of punishment. He also would get rewarded with immortality on completion of the labors which is not ideal as he deserved the punishments. Finally, he resorted to questionable means such as taking part in the sack of Troy, where many innocent people got massacred, with the aim of rescuing the princess of Troy which he did. All of this goes to show that even though he was a hero some of his actions would not have made him one especially in today’s society.
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