In Greek Mythology, two characters played a central role in defeating the monsters and all evil enemies. The two great heroes of Greece were Hercules and Theseus. They were indeed uncles, but different parts of Greece preferred them. Athens liked Theseus, while Sparta or the rest of Greece preferred Hercules. However, both heroes had some characteristics in common, like both of them had supernatural powers. When they realized their abilities, they wanted to help humanity and save the world.
At the same time, they were different from each other in a mental way. Their intelligence level and the life experience they had through their journey made them two separate characters. Theseus was a good thinker, which is why Athens liked him best, while Hercules used his enormous power; Sparta preferred him. So if somebody asks the question, what is the ability that is in common in Hercules and Theseus, the answer is strength. With this ability, they decided to help innocent people and to become heroes of Greece.
“Hercules was the strongest man on earth, and he had the supreme self-confidence magnificent physical strength gives.” He excelled from the others at a very young age, when he killed two snakes with his own bare hands. Hera, Zeus’s jealous wife, sent the snakes to kill Hercules while he was sleeping. He proved that he was strong and he could defeat anybody and anything. Theseus was a strong child, too. His father placed a sword and a pair of shoes in a hallow, and he covered them with a great stone. He did that because he wanted to see if his son Theseus could move that stone.
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If yes, then he can take over the kingdom. “The child was a boy, and he grew up strong far beyond others so that when his mother finally took him to the stone, he lifted it with no trouble at all.” At a very young age, both characters became heroes by killing monsters and doing good to humanity. Theseus’s “…idea was to become a great hero as quickly as possible…” On his way to Athens, he killed many bandits, and he also killed the Minotaur. “It can be imagined how Greece rang with the praises of the young man who cleared the land of these banes to travellers.” Hercules was renamed after his strength, and he was called a hero when he defeated the Minyans.
Of course, they had some different characteristics as every people do. But these differences were significant. Their intelligence level was like sky and ground, and their life experience differed, too. Hercules’s “Intelligence did not figure largely in anything he did and was often conspicuously absent.” Theseus was at a higher level of his mental capabilities because he wanted a people’s government where all would be equal. We get a clear picture of Hercules from the story of what kinda man he was: “His intellect was not strong. His emotions were.”
Even if his feelings were strong, he always blamed himself for the way he acted. He usually acted first and then thought about the consequences. The scene proves this characteristic from the funeral, where Hercules gets drunk, then realizes his fault and makes compensation. He brings back Admetus’s wife from the underworld. During their long journey, both heroes, Hercules as well as Theseus, had different life experiences. The “strongest man on earth” engaged three times (in order: Megara, Deinanira and Hebe), while Theseus married only two women (in order: Hippolyta and Phedra).
Theseus decided to dedicate his life to saving innocents and helping humanity. He knew how to treat people and how to understand himself with the peoples that supported him. Another difference between them was that Hercules always had to make up his fault. He gets twelfth labors (bringing back the lion for Nemea, to kill the nine-headed creature, Hydra, to bring back alive a stag with hums of gold, to capture a great boar, to clean the Augean stables in a single day, to drive away from the Stymphalian birds, to go to Crete and fetch from there the savage bull, to get the man-eating mares of King Diomedes, to bring back the girdle of Hippolyta, to bring back the cattle of Geryon, to bring back the Golden Apples of the Hesperides, and to bring up Cerberus from the Underworld) for killing his family. Still, he also killed innocent people by accident. The waterboy and the musician were the victims of his angriness.
Even if they were uncles, why did a different part of Greece support them? Athens supported Theseus while Hercules was the Spartan’s favorite. Athens was the home of thinkers, doctors and scientists. As Theseus acted after his mind, he was considered as one of them. Another reason why Athenians like him best because he never had to make labors like Hercules did many-many times. Athenians didn’t like Hercules because he was wild. The rest of Greece preferred wildness and strength. “But Hercules embodied what the rest of Greece most valued. His qualities were those the Greeks, in general, honored and admired”. In Greek tradition, the boys are taken for military practices at a very young age, and they are educated to kill. As Hercules was strong and able to kill, Spartans considered him as one of them.
In my opinion, Theseus was a better hero than Hercules. I admire Hercules for his enormous powers, but sometimes he was out of control of his strength and killed people that he shouldn’t have killed. If we don’t think ahead before we act, something will always end with a disaster. That’s why I like Theseus. He is a carefully thought out person, he never had to make up labors, and he also treated people equally and cared about their feelings.