Every human is on an adventure that is long and filled with conflicts. How those obstacles are overcome builds character. Smart decisions must be made and mistakes conquered. In Mythology, by Edith Hamilton heroes faced decisions that determined their identity. Oedipus was determined to avoid his prophecy, but he only succeeded in fulfilling it. Achilles embraced his fate. Odysseus faced many tribulations, but was dedicated to make it home. Hercules met every challenge, but was defeated by love. In Greek Mythology the journey represented the internal struggles and eventual perseverance of mortals. Oedipus began his life unaware of what his future held. His childhood was easy as the son of King Polybus, until he learned of Apollo’s prophecy. To avoid his fate, Oedipus immediately fled Corinth with no destination in mind. On the road to Thebes Oedipus defended himself, oblivious that he killed his real father. His lonely wandering led him to Thebes which was besieged by the sphinx. “He was a homeless, friendless man to whom life meant little and he determined to seek the sphinx out and try to solve the riddle.” (Hamilton 269) By solving her riddle, Oedipus became king and married Jocasta ignorant of the fact she was his mother. When his sons were grown, a plague was sent upon Thebes. “No one suffered more than Oedipus.” (Hamilton 271) His fatherly concern for his people drove him to consult the oracle of Delphi. To end the plague, Oedipus was determined to find the murderer of King Laius. When Teiresias told Oedipus that Oedipus himself was the killer, Oedipus banished Teiresias for he thought this was impossible. Jocasta’s reaction caused Oedipus some doubt and the news that he wasn’t the son of Polybus shocked him. His desperation for the truth pushed him onward. He was in agony when he understood the truth and chose to blind himself in shame. He had the courage to stay alive and continue to rule his people. Unlike Oedipus, Achilles willingly accepted his destiny. At first, Achilles obeyed his mother’s wish to avoid his fate at Troy. However, his warrior instincts revealed him to Odysseus and his pride force him to disregard his mother and go to war. Nine years later, Achilles took charge of a crucial problem with Agamemnon, and made a firm decision and decisively solved it. As a result, Agamemnon angered Achilles by taking Briseis away from him and once again he honored his mother’s command and stopped fighting. Achilles was reluctant to allow Patroclus to wear his armor to portray him in the war because he wanted to fight himself. “Go, Take my armor, my men too, and defend the ships. I cannot go. I am a man dishonored.” (Hamilton 196). When Patroclus was slain by Hector, Achilles blamed himself, and therefore killed Hector for revenge. When King Priam approached Achilles for the return of his son’s body, Achilles felt compassion and concern for his own demise and gave Priam possession of Hector body for proper burial. “He had driven the Trojans before him up to the wall of Troy” (Hamilton 201) where he met his own fate by an arrow from Paris to his only vulnerable spot. Odysseus played a background role in the Trojan War until the death of Achilles. At first, he pretended to be insane to avoid going to Troy, but reluctantly honored his word. Odysseus emerged as the Greek leader when he did what was necessary to bring about the fall of Troy. He thought of the wooden horse as the final solution to gain entry into Troy. Odysseus endangered himself to show his confidence in the plan. In the end, Odysseus strategy was triumphant and Troy fell. The war was over, but the voyage home had just begun. Odysseus dealt with a storm at sea and the Lotus eaters with ease compared to Polyphemus. His wits met the challenge of devising an escape from the cannibalistic Cyclops. Odysseus had no choice, but to sustain the betrayal of his men that set back their voyage and led to the loss of all but one ship. On Circe’s Island, he resisted her magic with the help of Hermes, and charmed her with his intellect. Odysseus kept his courage when he entered Hades to find out how to reach home safely. Odysseus chose to accept the unenviable loss of six men to pass through Scylla. On the island of the Cattle of the Sun, Odysseus was once again betrayed by his men which led to their death and resulted him being washed ashore on Calypso Island. Even though the accommodations were delightful with Calypso Odysseus was home sick. His desire to go home was so great they built a raft and he continued his voyage home. After eighteen days at sea, he was caught in a deadly storm, but he survived only by his strength and returned was returned home by the Phacieans. Once back in Ithaca, Odysseus disguised himself as a beggar to see what he was up against. Then he joined up with his son and loyal servants and brutally took back his kingdom. Hercules was much stronger physically then Odysseus, but weaker in wisdom because of his impulsive behavior. Even as an infant, he was quick to react to danger when just by instinct he strangled two deadly snakes. As a young man, he killed his music teacher just as impulsively, not because he was in danger, but just because he was annoyed, “He was sorry, very sorry, but that did not keep him from doing the same thing again and again.”(Hamilton 169) Hercules’s greatest sorrow occurred when he went mad and slaughtered his family with his own hand. At first, all he could think about was avenging their death upon himself. When Theseus shared his guilt, Hercules reluctantly decided to accept his friendship…”suffer and be strong.”(Hamilton 170) However, Hercules was unable to forgive himself and needed to be purified. Then he went to the oracle at Delphi to seek a way to be cleansed. He willingly accepted the challenge of the twelve labors, and successfully completed them all. Despite his success, he was never tranquil nor at ease. Hercules wanted to marry Deianira, but Achelous was in love with her, so they had a battle which ended in a marriage to Hercules. Hercules’s short temper reacted again when a thrust with his arm killed a servant by accident, which caused Hercules guilt he could not bear, so he went into exile to seek forgiveness. After being punished by Zeus, Hercules was angry and took revenge on Eurythus. Deianira’s jealously and suicide finally pushed Hercules over the edge and he felt he had no choice but to take his own life. No matter what adventures the heroes were on they all met difficulty challenges along theirs journeys. Oedipus’s demand for the truth was the result in his own demise. Achilles struggle with the death of Patroclous and knowing seeking revenge would seal his own fate. Odysseus had many struggles on his way home, but his courage prevailed and he made it home. Hercules dealt with many tragic losses which caused him to take his own life. No matter what obstacles they faced all had perseverance.
“Hamilton, Edith, and Steele Savage, Mythology,.Boston:Little, Brown and, 1942. Print.”