Greek Mythology: Heracles
The lives of the Greek heroes are full of drama, action, novelty and traditions which created the foundations of ancient Greek religion, philosophy and culture for many centuries (Powell, 2003). They performed extraordinary feats of bravery and showed intelligence in dealing with problems which could have vexed even the greatest minds alive today. Yet at the same time, as mentioned in the statement above, they were problematic and transgressive since their actions and the retributive justice handed out by them far exceeded the crimes of their respective opponents.
Perhaps the most famous, well known and recognizable hero of them all is Heracles who is popularly known in the west as Hercules. Arguably, he was the greatest of the Greek heroes since he represented the ideal of masculine behaviour, fathered many kings and was a champion of the Olympian Gods against monsters. Fathered by Zeus and Alcmene, he was the grandson of Perseus and is typified in Greek art through his clothes of lion skin and the club which he wields against his enemies (Powell, 2003).
However, the stories of his life and works have to be balanced with the actions and crimes he committed. Of course the start of his 12 tasks have been attributed to atonement for killing his family but Heracles remains blameless here because the fit of madness was caused by Hera (Hansen, 2005). Additionally, he remains innocent of the fact that the labours and the misery he goes through as recommended by the Oracle are also being caused by Hera.
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