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Hercules: The Myth and the Movies

Hercules is an iconic character in Greek Mythology since he is culturally constructed
as the ultimate ideal in masculine heroism. He is known by people of all ages as a man of
magnificent physical strength. As proof of his popularity, one can find Hercules everywhere;
be it in animated movies, cartoons, books, or action movies. There are lots of versions of his
story and in each, the writer adds his own touch. As such, one cannot help but notice the
deviations from the original story. The most popular versions of Hercules are the ones
portrayed in Greek Mythology books and by Disney. Undeniably, Disney’s Hercules is a
sanitized version of the original Hercules depicted in mythology.
The first thing that catches people’s attention at the start of the movie is Hercules’
birth. The myth says that for a long time, Hercules was thought of as a son of Amphitryon,
a distinguished general. It was later on revealed that he was the son of Zeus, who had
visited Amphitryon’s wife, Alcmena, in the shape of her husband when the general was
away fighting. Because of this, Hera was furiously jealous and vowed to kill Hercules.
Hera’s jealousy was the root of Hercules’ future troubles and is therefore a crucial part in
the myth. In the movie, however, Hercules was born as the son of Zeus and Hera, with Hera
portraying a normal, loving mother. Doing this removes a crucial part of the story but the
movie made up for it by making Hades pose as the bad guy instead. Despite the differences,
Hercules was described as loved by his father, Zeus, in both versions.
Another aspect that’s noticeably different in the two versions is Hercules’ love
interest. In the myth, Princess Megara was married off to Hercules as a reward for saving
the Thebans from the Minyans. They lived happily until the time Megara had borne 3 sons
when Hera sent madness upon Hercules and he ended up killing his whole family. His
immense guilt led him to consult an oracle that told him he needed to purify himself. This
purification was the 12 tasks assigned to him, more popularly known as “The Labors of
Hercules”, which is the main focus of his legend. Megara’s character was barely exposed in
the myth; but in the movie, she was a dominant character. Disney’s Megara was witty,
sarcastic and empowered. As such, they weren’t married immediately so the part about
Hercules murdering his family was completely removed. Megara was a mortal love interest
in both versions and in both, she ended up dying. In the movie she is saved by Hercules and
he gives up his immortality for her. In the original story, however, Hercules did not only
maintain immortality, he also had another love interest named Deianira.
As one can see, Disney’s Hercules is a bit romanticized as opposed to the more
realistic Hercules of the Greek Mythology. This is because he somehow had to fit into
society’s idea of a hero. Disney’s Hercules was the perfect hero and had no weakness, save

instantly killed her. Hercules. Any part that deals with sensitive stuff like adultery and thoughtless violence cannot be seen in the movie. Due to his superhuman strength. he became an outcast of society and therefore grew as a humble but brave hero. A proof of this was when he was doing his ninth labor. for example his teachers in subjects he was not interested in and the lad who was only serving him water. the Queen of the Amazons. without any thought at all. . Hercules had this perfect confidence that no matter who was against him he could never be defeated. Hercules murdering his family in a fit of madness was also omitted. met Hercules kindly and told him she would give him the girdle but Hera manipulated the Amazons and they charged down on Hercules’ ship. He was also quick tempered and unaware of his own strength which led to him killing quite a handful of innocent people. taking it for granted that she wasn’t responsible for the attack. and facts bore him out. a lot of the original story has either been changed or removed in the movie version. Some of the faults in his character were also removed in an effort to fit Hercules into the stereotypical image of a hero. Throughout his life. The part about Zeus being an adulterer and Hera being a jealous and vengeful god has been taken out of the movie. Hercules wasn’t intelligent but in the myth this lack of intelligence came with the immediate response to fight without thinking. This leads people to conclude that the movie is indeed a sanitized version of the original story. The original Hercules is far more flawed than that. Knowing that Disney’s movies target young audiences. without a thought of how kind Hippolyta had been.Megara. In both versions. Hippolyta.

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