In the rich Greek ancient history, we meet very often myths and stories about heroes. But what this means? What is a hero? The people from the ancient years were admiring and honoring men who had a great physical strength and braveness. These are the famous men of the antiquity who have been inspiration for myths and for literature generally, they are not only famous in Greece but they are glorified worldwide. We can separate the Ancient Greek heroes in two categories: the heroes of the ancient Greek mythology and the heroes of the ancient Greek history. Existents or non-existents these ancient Greek heroes have left a great story, glory even culture for all of us today. Let’s know more about them.
Ancient Greek heroes in the mythology
Heracles was the most famous hero in ancient Greece. A superhero with a great fame, the mightiest of the fighters. According to the legend, Heracles was son of the Greek god Zeus and had a human mother, Alcmene. As a baby had already superpowers, when the jealous wife of Zeus, goddess Hera sent two huge snakes to kill him, Heracles strangled them! When he was teenager got married with the princess of Thives and had with her 3 children. His happy life made Hera mad from detestation and was drove him to kill his beautiful family. When he realized what had done went to the Delphic Sibyl to get oracle. This oracle was to serve the king of Tiryns and to carry out 12 labours (or dodekathlon). Below is the worldwide famous dodekathlon of Heracles:
i. Nemean lion
ii. Lernaen hydra
iii. Ceryneian hind
iv. Erymanthian boar
v. Augean stables
vi. Stymphalian birds
vii. Cretan bull
viii. Horses of Diomedes
ix. Belt of Hippolyta
x. Cattle of Geryon
xi. The golden apples of the Esperides
After all of these achievements, Heracles got mad from horrible pains and was burnt alive at the top of a mountain. This place was named ‘’Pyra’’ (in Greek means fire) and has this name until now. After his death, Heracles was taken by his father Zeus in Olympus and became the god of the strength and the braveness.
Theseus was king of Athens, son of Aethra and of two men, the god Poseidon and the human Augeus as Aethra slept with them in one night. His greatest achievement was the death of the Minotaur. Minos the king of Crete had a successful war against Athenians and he demanded every nine years, 7 Athenian boys and 7 Athenian girls had to be sent sailing to Crete to be devoured by the Minotaur, a monster which was a half man and a half bull who lived in the created by Daedalus, Labyrinth. When Theseus arrived in Crete, the Minos’ daughter Ariadne felt in love with him and helped him to get out of the Labyrinth, after the killing of Minotaur, with her famous ‘’Ariadne’s mites’’ (mites means a ball of strings). King Augeus, before Theseus left, told to him when return if he was alive to have white sails on his boat and if was dead black. Theseus forgot to put up the white sails and his father threw himself off a cliff into the sea from sadness as thinking his son an also dead young Athenian.
Odysseus, Agamemnon, Achilles, Menelaus, Patroclus, Diomedes
All these men took part in the Trojan War and extinguished the Trojan kingdom. Their brave and glory story had inspired writers, movie makers and many others.
Ancient Greek heroes in the history
Doubtless, the greatest marshal in the Greek history. His name became a legend for centuries until our days. Alexander was born in 356 B.C., son of the Macedonian king Phillipp and his wife Olympias. Growing up had as teacher the philosopher Aristotle. When he was 10 years old, he achieve to manage a horse which until then no one can manage it as this horse was afraid by its own shadow and only Alexander understood this. This horse was Bucephalas (meaning ox-head) and carried Alexander as far as Pakistan. After its death, Alexander named a city with the name of his loved horse, Bucephala.
Alexander was an ancient Greek hero venturesome, very brave and incredibly smart especially in the war tactics. In the 334 B.C. Alexander with 45.000 soldiers passed to Asia to take revenge against Persians in the name of Greeks. Successful and key-battles were the Battle of the Granicus, the Battle of the Issus, the Battle of the Gaugamela and the Battle of the Persian Gate. He found a lot of towns which had his name ‘’Alexandria’’ and he made military roads through Asia. He captured the Levant and Syria, Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia and Persia and he finally reached to the Indian River. After a capturing the biggest part of Asia, Alexander died in Babylon in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar from disease probably malaria or typhoid fever and his great empire settled into four parts. The name and the glory of Alexander even in our days cause admire and make the people want to know more about him and his empire.
Leonidas the Brave
His name means ‘’the son of the lion’’, he was Greek ancient hero and king of the Greek city Sparta.
Leonidas is famous for the epic Battle of Thermopylae in which he and other 300 Spartans defended Greece against the Persian invasion. They had to face the Persian army who had invaded from the North under Xerxes. The ancient Greek historical Herodotus mentioned that the Persian army consisted of over 2.000.000 soldiers and its part was the elite unit known as ‘’the Immortals’’. After a seven day battle the Spartan army was betrayed by Ephialtes and from the small Greek force were all killed, the same and Leonidas but his glory lives until our days.
Miltiades, Themistocles, Cimon, Heracles, Theseus, Leonidas, Alexander the Great are only some of the greatest Greek ancient heroes. A small country like Greece has a proud and rich history full of excellent examples of braveness, courageousness and self-sacrificing.