Epic Heroes: Archetypes throughout History

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Chel-Cee Lengyel
Armbruster/Dunmire
3 Period
Epic Heroes: Archetypes Throughout History
In today’s society, superheroes are brave, courageous, and strong. But those traits weren’t the basis of a hero just because the creators decided so. The qualities of a hero are based from epics written thousands of years ago. There have been many different epics written throughout history, but all of those stories share common archetypes that are sued to this day. Epic heroes have many of the same character traits that relay the social values of their time. Beowulf from Beowulf, Achilles from The Iliad, and Gilgamesh from Gilgamesh all share three common traits: their god-like strength, their bravery, and an individual weakness.

Many men throughout time have been strong, but epic heroes tend to have god-like strength they use to beat their foes. Beowulf used his strength to beat Grendel, the vicious enemy of the Kingdom Herot. During their great battle, the author describes Beowulf’s strength when he has Grendel in his hands, “Hell’s captive caught in the arms of him who of all the men on Earth was the strongest.” Beowulf also defeated Grendel’s mother when she tried to avenge her son. He had nothing but his chain mail, and later a strong sword, to protect him. Just like Beowulf, Achilles’ strength matched that of the Gods’ as well.

Achilles, or referred to as ‘the Swift Runner’, was given god-like strength shortly after his birth. He was dipped into the River Styx by his mother in order to protect him He later used his strength to avenge his friend, Patroculus, and kill the murderer, Hector. Achilles’ god-like strength gave him the ability to chase Hector along the city of Troy and through fields for a long period of time. After Athena tricked Hector into facing Achilles, their sparring battle resulted in Achilles as the winner. His rage and strength was so prominent that the God of Fire touched his spear tip just as he attacked, “Brightest star that rides the...
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