Heroes Journey which portrays the basic stages that

            Heroes in Greek Mythology are defined
as individuals who were differentiated from the rest of the people by their
ingenuity, intelligence and charisma. They were also believed to possess great
skills and strength. Heroes that were the child of a god or a goddess were
called semi-gods, while the rest of the heroes were called mortals. Although
the semi-gods were born with divine qualities, some of the mortals still
managed to exceed them when it came to their reputation. Considering all the
good deeds that these heroes would do for humanity the gods were willing to
support them and help them through their obstacles (“Greek Heroes”).

After
a lot of research Joseph Campbell discovered common patterns that were used in
hero myths. His research allowed him to contribute to the creation of The Hero’s Journey which portrays the
basic stages that the hero-quest goes through (Hero’s Journey worksheet). Two
famous heroes that followed these basic steps are Odysseus and Heracles. While
Heracles was a semi-god, Odysseus was a mortal hero which shows that The Hero’s
Journey is not only valid for one type of a hero.

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            The first stage of the Hero’s
Journey is the ordinary world. Odysseus completes this stage when he is in
Ithaca, with his wife Penelope and his son Telemachus. As soon as Odysseus
leaves for the battle at Troy he begins his call to adventure stage. The
refusal stage is when Odysseus is reluctant to leave his family and sail to
Troy because he knows that it will be a very long journey and he will not be
able to watch his son grow. Once Odysseus accepts the call he enters the
unknown. At Troy Odysseus and his men are in constant danger. The war went on
for ten full years and there was still no end in sight until Odysseus thought
of using the Trojan Horse as a way for the Greeks to enter Troy ad surprise
attack the Trojans. The Trojan Horse helped Odysseus and his men to win the
war. (Sigda). Odysseus’ helper is Athena, the goddess of wisdom, crafts, and
war. While the other gods turn their back on Odysseus Athena gives him guidance
and saves him from death. On his way back home from Troy Odysseus comes across
many obstacles. His first stop is the Island of the Cicones that his men try to
raid. However, Odysseus and his men are attacked by the Cicones and as a result
Odysseus lost some of his men (Sigda). After that they stop on the Island of
the Lotus Eaters where Odysseus sends his men to look for food.

Unfortunaterlly, some of the men eat the Lotus plant that forces them to lose
all grip on reality. Odysseus has no choice but to force the men back on the
ship against their will (Sigda). Odysseus obstacles consistent of many
different islands each with its own challenges that he has to face and
overcome. Odysseus reward is when king Alcineous gives him a ship and a safe
passage home. This is when he finally returns home in Ithaca (Sigda).When
Odysseus arrives home Athena continues to help him by disguising him as a
beggar in order to help him learn who is really loyal to him and kill all of
the suitors. Finally, Odysseus is able to take his place back as a king and be
with his wife Penelope.

            The journey of Hercules is different
than that of Odysseus. However, it still follows the basic stages of the
hero-quest. Heracles is considered to be the most popular hero in Greek
mythology. Hercules completes the ordinary world stage when he is at home with
his foster parents before he begins to question who his real parents are. His
call for adventure begins when he realizes how different and unique he is
compared to the rest of the humans. He prays to Zeus to help him find his real
parents when Zeus informs him that in reality he is his father. Hercules is
challenged to become a hero on Earth in order to be reunited with his father
Zeus. Since Hercules is the son of Zeus and Alcmene, a mortal, Hera refuses to
accept him and wanted to persecute him (Maurizio). Hera manipulated Hercules
into killing his own wife and his children. As a punishment Hercules had to
serve Eurystheus for twelve years. With the punishments come twelve labors that
are almost impossible to survive. As Hercules begins to face these labors he
enters the unknown. Hercules’ first challenge is to skin the Nemean lion which
he successfully completes contrary to Eurystheys’ belief that Hercules would
not be able to survive this challenge. Afterwards, Hercules kills the Lernaean
hydra Iolaus. Athena gives Hercules castanents which help him to kill the
Stymphalian birds. Hercules’ fourth challenge is to capture the Cretan bull and
bring it in mainland Greece. He also defeats an Amazon and conquers many
different animals and people. (Maurizio) With Athena’s assistance Hercules
finishes all twelve of his labors successfully. Athena is Hercules’ ally while
the twelve labors represent the Supreme Ordeal (Hero’s Journey worksheet). As a
result of completing the labors, Hercules is rewarded the right to enter
Olympus and marry the goddess Hebe. This journey makes Hercules stronger than
ever and changes his life for the better.

            Both Hercules and Odysseus had many
obstacles to overcome during their journeys. Luckily, they were both successful
at doing so and showing why they are heroes. Although they both followed the
basic steps of the Hero’s Journey, their journeys were different. Hercules’
obstacles required a lot of skill while Odysseus’ obstacles were mostly based
on luck. Odysseus was not alone during his journey. He had his team of men, as
well as the help of Athena. While Hercules also had the help of Athena, he had
to face his challenges alone. Unlike Odysseus he did not have a team that
followed him around and helped him during his battles. Another difference
between these journeys is that Odysseus had to overcome all the different
challenges in order to arrive back home, while Hercules was forced to face the
twelve different challenges as a punishment for having killed his wife and his
children. I thought both journeys were really interesting, especially seeing
that although they are completely different they still follow the basic steps
of The Hero’s Journey. Both journeys challenged the heroes and highlighted
their powers, proving why both Odysseus and Hercules are heroes in Greek
mythology.

            Besides the heroes in Greek
mythology, there are heroes in many different cultures. For example, the
English culture introduces us to many different epic heroes one of whom is
Beowulf. Epic heroes are defined as individuals that possess qualities that
mere mortals lack (Jankowski). Some of the characteristics of epic heroes are
bravery, superhuman intelligence, strength and skills. Epic heroes often battle
for the good of others. Beowulf is a Geatish hero that provides help to the
King of the Danes when him and his people are attacked by a powerful monster
named Grendel. Grendel is invulnerable to the weapons that humans use as they
try to defeat him. Although Beowulf’s strength is doubted by some of the Danish
warriors he proves them wrong by defeating Grendel. However, the battle is not
over. After Grendel’s mother witnesses his death she vows revenge. She goes
back to Heorot to surprise the Danish warriors. By killing the king’s most
trusted adviser she warns the Danish warriors that she is coming back for
revenge. As a result, Beowulf goes back to help them once again (Jankowski).

            As seen from the epic poem Beowulf, epic heroes are willing to risk
their own life for the good of others. Unlike the heroes in Greek mythology
that I have analyzed above, this epic hero from the English culture fights for
the peace of others. Both Odysseus and Hercules overcome many challenges in
order to get to their final destination. They fight for themselves and go on a
journey that will lead them to their own personal goals. Heroes in Greek
mythology fight with the intent to prove how strong and powerful they are, they
fight to earn a reputation as the most powerful and to prove that nothing can
defeat them. However, Beowulf does not fight for himself. In the English culture,
a hero is someone that is willing to use his strength and his powers for the
better of those around him. Epic heroes “provide the common people with a sense
of security and they display honor in every act” (Jankowski).  Rather than fighting for themselves, these
epic heroes use their strength and powers to help those in need. Considering
the different cultures and how they portray heroes, an individual that is
considered to be a hero in Greek mythology may not be considered a hero in the
English culture or vice versa. For example, since epic heroes are portrayed as
individuals that sacrifice their life for the greater good of others, both
Odysseus and Hercules may not be considered epic heroes since they overcame
obstacles to reach their own personal goals.

 However, since The Hero’s Journey consists of
basic steps of the hero-quest it can also apply to other cultures. Beowulf’s
ordinary world was Geats in Sweden. His call to adventure is when he is asked
to save the Danish warriors from the monster. Beowulf gathered his best men and
left for Denmark. King Hrothag can be seen as Beowulf’s mentor by teaching him
that a king that cannot fight for his people when they are in trouble is
useless. This allows Beowulf to be a better king than Hrothag was. Beowulf’s
tests consist of his battles against Grendel and Grendel’s mother. Using his
power and his intelligence Beowulf wins both battles and saves the Danish
warriors. As a result, he is rewarded with the finest horses and a massive
treasure by King Hrothgar. When Beowulf returns home he becomes the king of his
homeland. 

            Although heroes are portrayed in
different ways depending on what culture they belong to they still follow the
basic steps of a quest-hero. These basic steps allow the readers to understand
how someone fulfills the characteristics of a hero without knowing a lot of
information about the culture from where the hero comes.

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