CLA204H1 - Week 5
October 11, 2012
THE GREEK HERO
The conceptual framework of legends and heroes.
o The sense of idea of the legends and heroes.
o Characteristics of specific hero types.
Perseus and Gordon (right image)
o 3 bodies and 3 heads but not every head is attached in the body.
What does the image convey?
o Why is the middle man headless? Wings? Who are they?
o Why are all these important for its legend?
What is a saga/legend?
o “has a perceptible relationship to history”, whether true or false the story may be.
In contrast, myth has to do with the Gods; it lies in the end of the realm. It is also set in the time OUTSIDE
Legends have strong perceptible relationship on the realm of human history. Human aspect is important.
E.g. How long ago was Trojan War? Or When did Artemis cause Actaeon’s death?
o A myth and a legend can be connected together, like muthos (story; entertain the audience) and logos
(spoken account: persuade the audience).
Legend vs Myth
o In myths, the principal characters are gods and goddeses.
o In legends, the principal characters are humans, even though gods and goddesses often play a role.
Purpose is to tell about the events of human past – Heroes
Hierarchy: Olympians, minor gods, demigods, heroes, mortals.
What is a “hero”?
o For instance, in the movie: Lord of the Rings – Frodo is a (classical) hero.
Setting: “Middle-earth” (Anglo-Saxon England)
Heroic (Greek) features:
Has a helper or servant (Samwise Gamgee, but also the fellowship)
Falls under the power of an enemy (Ring)
Obstacle/enemy on his quest end of the world/to the land of the dead (Mordor)
Magical objects aiding on his quest (rings, cloak, phial, the sword Sting)
Returns home at the end of the quest “retirement”; peace and solitude at the end of his quest.
o Frodo as a (non-classical) hero:
Humble, filled with self-doubt about finishing his quest.
Not seeking glory, surprised when he himself volunteers.
A hobbit: without the clear strength and superior size of a Greek hero, he avoids violence as much
He (kind of) fails in his quest: (pivotal point – he doesn’t choose to destroy the ring)
“ I have come…but I do not choose now to do what I came to do. I will not do this deed. The Ring is
Features of the Greek Hero
o MAY have a divine parent CLA204H1 - Week 5
October 11, 2012
o Miraculous birth, but little is known of his childhood much of childhood spent elsewhere (“exile”)
E.g. Hermes and Apollo accomplished after their birth, or