The Human Heroes of Greek Mythology
Greek mythology isn’t just about gods and goddesses. Myths also focus on humans that were considered to be heroes, meaning that they did important things and were well liked by the gods and goddesses. They typically had a superhuman god-like talent. They weren’t always perfect, but the human heroes were skilled in some way and completed impossible seeming quests in order to protect the world from harm’s way.
Achilles was known as a fearless warrior in the Trojan War and was unbeatable on the battlefield. His mother, a nymph, wanted him to be immortal so she dipped him into the River Styx and held him in the water by his left heel. The magic coating of the River Styx made him invincible, except for his heel. When he was shot with an arrow in the heel, he died. This is why we call someone’s weakness, his or her “Achilles’ heel”.
Heracles is better known today by his Roman name, Hercules. He is considered to be the greatest human hero of Greek mythology. The son of Zeus, the result of an affair with human Alcmena, Heracles was a supreme athlete with incredible strength and courage. Hera, Zeus’ jealous wife had it in for Heracles and she arranged for him to go crazy and kill his wife and children. Feeling guilty for what he did, he was told by Eurystheus, king of Mycenae to complete 12 challenging labors as penance. He completed these seemingly impossible tasks to be a free man again.
Odysseus was a warrior during the Trojan War that famously came up with the idea of the Trojan horse. He had the Greeks build a giant, hollow, wooden horse that soldiers hid inside. Trojans brought the horse inside the city, the Greek army came out of horse, opened the gates for the Greek army and burned the city down and won the war. The journey back home after the war took Odysseus 10 years.
Perseus announced that he was going to kill Medusa, one of the 3 Gorgons (or women with the hair of snakes). Medusa was the only one that could be killed. Perseus promised to bring back her head as a gift. Perseus got the help of Athena and Hermes. Athena lent him her shiny bronze shield that he used as a mirror so that he could cut off her head without looking straight at her. Hermes gave him a magical sword that wouldn’t break on her neck.
Theseus saved the people of Athens by killing the Minotaur who lived in a maze called the Labyrinth. He found his way through the Labyrinth using a ball of string to guide his way. He killed the monster while it was sleeping with his bare hands. Theseus went on to become the king of Athens.
Categorized in: Greek Mythology
This post was written by GreekBoston.com