Classical vs. Modern Hero’s
Classical heroes, both in their characteristics and their missions, heavily influence contemporary superheroes. Like most modern works of literature, comics are also influenced by some of the greatest sagas ever told. Many comic authors base their hero’s and villains off of ancient Greek and Roman stories. The stories are very easy to adapt to modern circumstances because they all deal with ageless lessons. Although the ancient authors created their characters hundreds of years ago, they were used to teach the people of ancient Greek and Rome the same lessons that are needed even today, such as humility and duty to the state. One of the most famous Greek mythological characters is Achilles. His character has directly influenced the creation of multiple contemporary characters. However, the most famous hero that he influenced is Superman, the most commonly known comic book hero. They both have many similarities, from the very obvious weaknesses to the minutest details, such as their archrivals. However, the similarities that are deeper than the visual observations are the ones that have made both characters timeless. Through their adventures, both Achilles and Superman are able to demonstrate some of the most sought after characters, which can also be seen in almost every successful human being. Both fictional characters also have a few, but fatal weaknesses, which leads to their constant struggle to stay in power.
At the most basic level of comparison, both Achilles and Superman are very similar in their near perfect anatomical construction. Achilles is at the peak of human fitness, with the added mythological power of being invincible, except in his heel. Similarly, Superman is more perfect than any human being can be, due to his birth parents being form a different planet. Although he looks human, Superman is actually Kryptonian, allowing him to fly, have laser vision, and be invincible to physical damage. However, he also has a fatal flaw, which come in the form of radioactive shards from his home planet of Krypton. Another obvious similarity between them is their desire to improve the world around them with their superpowers, instead of using their powers for personal gain. It is very easy for either one of them to choose to do bad, considering that they are nearly immortal, but they decide to gain fame instead.
Going beyond their personal and physical similarities, are the similarities in their parents and upbringing. Both Achilles and Superman have two sets of guardians, their birth parents, and the generous people who raised them. Achilles has an immortal mother, the nymph Thetis, and a mortal father, King Peleus. His mixed status as an immortal makes him a demigod, which means he has some power, but is not fully accepted on Mount Olympus. Due to his parent’s time constraints, he was entrusted to Chiron to raise and train him. Chiron can be considered his adopted parents because he does everything that a parent is supposed to for a child. There are some similarities with Superman’s parentage and upbringing, but there are also stark differences. Superman’s biological parents are immortals from the planet of Krypton who left him on Earth for unrelated reasons. Once on Earth, mortals on Earth adopted him; who raised him and instilled American values in him. Both hero’s upbringings can be directly attributed to their choice of doing good for the community, rather than misusing their special powers.
The combination of their upbringings and physical prowess leads to their goal in life, which is similar for both Achilles and Superman. Achilles reason to live is to obtain kleos, which is honor. The only way that can be done is through enduring and winning wars, which he is adept at. The reason Achilles wants to obtain kleos is for personal fame, making him slightly selfish and contributing to his ultimate demise. However, many scholars argue...
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