The Hero Cycle of Hercules
Hercules is the most popular hero in all Greek mythology. However, the question that arises in one’s mind is what is so special about him? It could be that he is the son of the ruler of the Gods, Zeus. It could be the obvious repugnance of Hera, the god of marriage and Zeus’s wife. This is because he is the result of Zeus’s unfaithfulness to her. It also could be that despite Hercules not quite fitting the great Greek hero cycle, he is a hero nonetheless. The hero cycle is a customary path that a Greek hero should go on to be recognized as a true saviour. This path has nine milestones that a true hero passes. Three of the most important are going on a quest, a near death battle and getting a reward. This essay will explain how Hercules primarily goes through all these stages and proves to be an amazing hero.
It is in the beginning of the Hercules story that he does not follow the first elements of the hero cycle: Birth, Discovery of Destiny and Not Being Ready. In a usual hero myth, a hero is born to some form of royalty, but he does not know about his remarkable abilities or origin. Even though the king of the gods had fathered Hercules, he does not really fit this element. Because he had proved to be special since as mere baby, he had killed two huge snakes that Hera had sent to murder him (Creighton 96). Despite the story not following the first element of the hero cycle, it does in the second element, where the hero discovers what he was born to do. Hercules, drove to insanity by Hera, killed his wife and children. Upon coming to his senses, he felt such guilt, that he went to the oracle of Delphi for how he could redeem his horrible deed. It is the oracle who revealed that Hercules must carry out twelve orders given by Eurystheus, the king of Tiryns, and then he will gain an eternal life (97). Lastly, in the third element a hero is hesitant or is not prepared to go through their quest. Hercules doesn’t really fit this role...
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