There are people we perceive as heroes today, and there are the heroes of ancient civilization like the Roman or Greek empires. The heroes of Greek mythology were overwhelmingly male demigods (there were a few exceptions though). Heracles – Roman name: Hercules – was arguably the most well-known with his 12 labors and all so I believe he does not need to be elaborated further. Besides Heracles however, there were other well-known heroes who also did great things who were not necessarily demigods or male.
Perseus was a demigod – half human and half god – son of Zeus. He grew up with his mother Danae on the island of Seriphos. However, the king of the island had his eyes on Danae and wanted to marry her but Perseus was always in the way. Therefore, he devised a plan to get rid of him by ordering him to bring back the head of Medusa – whose eyes turned people to stone if they looked her directly in the eye. Perseus would have failed his mission if not for the aid of Hermes who “offered him his winged sandals and the sickle that was used by Cronus to castrate Uranus” and “Athena who gave him her shield, so that Perseus would not have to look straight into Medusa‘s eyes” (“Perseus”). With these magical items he was able to slay Medusa and take her head. On his way back to Seriphos he had many adventures and even found a wife named Andromeda. When he returned to Seriphos he realized that the king had tricked him and proceeded to get his revenge. He entered the palace in the middle of the wedding between the king and his mother, told his mother to close her eyes, raised Medusa’s head in the air and “Polydectes and his courtiers were immediately turned to stone” (“Perseus”). There was a prophecy saying that he would one day kill his grandfather, Acrisius, which was fulfilled because Acrisius was one of the guests in the throne room who was petrified too. Supposedly, Perseus was the only Greek hero who had a happy life because he and Andromeda had a “happily ever after” ending and were immortalized into the stars.
Theseus (like Perseus) was also a demigod. However his godly parent was Poseidon, the god of the seas. There is some confusion about his parentage and some people say his father was actually King Aegeus. Theseus grew up in a small town called Troezen knowing that he was of loyal blood. When he was finally old enough, Theseus journeyed to Athens. Unfortunately, Athens was not yet a great city in those days and the King, Aegeus, was “forced by King Minos to pay a terrible tribute. He demanded that each year the Athenians send him seven of their most beautiful maidens, seven of their strongest young men” (Evslin). Theseus signed his name and was chosen to be one of the fourteen tributes to be sacrificed. He led the other thirteen tributes, along with the help of Princess Ariadne and her enchanted ball of yarn, to victory and killed the Minotaur himself. Theseus became a well-known man (and later king when Aegeus committed suicide) who binded all the cities of Greece together and brought Athens lots of honor.
There were many, many other heroes but I would be writing forever if I explained their history, life, great deeds, family, death, etc. I suggest searching up a few heroes on your own and maybe even checking out a Greek mythology book. I recommend reading about Jason, Odysseus, Atalanta (she’s a lady) and Heracles. They all have interesting pasts and have extraordinary abilities that normal people don’t have. I hope you enjoy!!
Evslin, Bernard, Dorothy Evslin, Ned Hoopes, and William Hunter. Heroes & Monsters of Greek Myth. New York: Scholastic, 2004. Print.
“Perseus.” Perseus. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.
“Theseus Adventures.” Theseus Adventures. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.