Q) In what ways are Perseus and Heracles typical heroes? In what way are they not typical?
In the realm of Greek myth, it is the focus on heroes rather than of Gods themselves that humanises the myth. Although Gods may operate in the background it is the human traits such as worth, dignity and potential that holds the main focus. The heroes of Greek myth share certain characteristics or experiences. Some of these include a divine parent or ancestor, physical strength, a performance of seemingly “impossible feats” and an encounter with divine powers. Although the hero has his own characteristics, he will typically follow a traditional pattern throughout his life. Both the work of mythographer Lord Raglan and the Russian folkorist
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With Polydectes now pursuing Danae, Perseus offers a gift as a substitute for his mother. Knowing the quest would be fateful; the king demanded the head of Medusa, one of the three Gorgons. As Harris states, “Perseus does not hesitate to volunteer for impossible missions, possessing by virtue of his divine parentage, the courage and skill to succeed.”5 With the help of Athene and Hermes, Perseus finds Graiae, and the nymphs to obtain magical weapons and set off to bring back the head of Medussa. Entering the cave backwards with the aid of a shield or mirror, Perseus is successful in his quest. On his way home, Perseus sees Princess Andromeda chained to a rock, at the mercy of a sea monster. He offers to rescue her for exchange of her hand in marriage. After returning home and defeating Polydectes, Perseus visits his grandfather, Acrisius hoping to reconcile. While attending funeral games for a friend, Perseus throws a discus that goes off course, killing his grandfather and fulfilling the prophecy. After their own deaths, Athene transforms Perseus and Andromeda into constellations.
Further to the hero rite of passage, Perseus undertook a seemingly impossible quest. His entrance into the Gorgon’s cave represented an entrance to the underwold.6 In rescuing Andromeda, Perseus wins the princess’s hand in marriage. The myth of Perseus as Harris states “embodies the complete cycle of the heroic rite of passage.7 He fulfils the quest for