Ancient Hercules Tragic Hero

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According to Greek lore, Hercules was a prideful drunk with a heavy temper. However, he is nonetheless considered ancient Greece’s greatest hero. His great feats of strength and epic victories in battle were what earned him this title, but why give such a moniker to a hero whose personal life told a story of alcoholism and senseless violence? In Mythology, Edith Hamilton unwinds this mystery. The answer lies in the society of the time. While the Greeks were in certain areas (specifically Athens) one of the most philosophically advanced peoples of their time, most of Greece possessed certain widely held opinions that would be glaringly outdated in today's world. These ideas are the reason why Greeks heard the story of a great hero with immense strength, while today, we hear a story that could be used as the sad backstory for a Hollywood supervillain. Philosophical contrast, the religious significance of his parentage, and his embodiment of the Greek ideal are the main reasons that Hercules was considered ancient Greece’s greatest hero. The deeply contrasting philosophies between modern western civilization …show more content…
His father was Zeus, the most feared and powerful god of Olympus. This earned Hercules countless friends but also formidable enemies, such as the goddess Hera, wife to Zeus and jealous of his many affairs. Hera’s jealousy caused her to curse Hercules with madness “Hera who never forgot a wrong sent the madness upon him. [Hercules] killed his children and Megara, too” (Hamilton 223) Hera became so jealous and loathsome that she attempted to ruin Hercules’ reputation. She influenced him to murder his family, and he was so shaken by his actions that he was for a time inclined to kill himself. Having Zeus as a father earned him powerful enemies but also made him even more widely revered among Greeks, as he was clearly recognized as the strongest, and thus the greatest, hero in

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