In many Greek hero myths and stories, protagonists are presented with a series of hardships or task they must past. In the book Mythology by Edith Hamilton Hercules tries to achieve atonement. He brainlessly accepts all the challenges that Eurystheus gave him, while Spiderman thinks thoroughly before he performs his actions.
The tradition of achieving atonement has deteriorated away from modern culture myths. In the book Spiderman the hero of Stan Lee’s novels, Spiderman tries to achieve security and stability for his community. Hercules is driven to serve the society because of his guilt while Spiderman serves the society willingly, which shows the difference between the Greek and modern idea about serving the society. The guilt that drives Hercules and the effort to make the society a better place drives Spiderman, shows that the idea of atonement has faded away in modern myths.
Greek heroes such as Hercules show heroism that is not displayed in modern day myths. Heroes such as Hercules do many things without thinking such as, encountering many creatures and performing tasks they would have never thought possible. For example, as Hercules tries to achieve atonement for the horrible acts that he has committed against his family and he must complete twelve tasks, one of which involves going down into the underworld: “His task was to bring Cerberus, the three-headed dog, up from Hades” (Hamilton 174). This task requires a lot of strength and courage as mentioned by Hamilton, “He lifted him and carried him all the way up to earth and on to Mycenae” (Hamilton 174).
Without Hercules this task could not be accomplished by anyone. All twelve of the tasks that Hercules was to perform didn’t not require much intelligence or cleverness, just strength. In many Greek myths there are no brains involved in the deed or action executed, just senseless killing and other tests of strength. On the other hand Spiderman performs his heroic acts with not only with his strength but also with intelligence. By using intelligence Spiderman has a much better chance of accomplishing his duty. For example, while the Green Goblin tied up Spiderman he was, “…to quickly think how to escape” (Lee 87). Greek myths have evolved form heroes performing actions brainlessly to heroes performing action with intellectual aid.
Many Greek heroes perform lawful acts for their community that modern day heroes do not perform. Many Greek heroes serve their community because they want to achieve atonement for the acts that they have performed. In the case of Hercules, “…a wrong who has sent the madness upon him” (Hamilton 169). Hercules had gone mad after his wife, Megara has borne him three sons, “He killed his children and Megara, too, as she tried to protect the youngest (Hamilton 169). As the story continues to go on Hercules lives the rest of his life wanting to avenge his own life for the awful act that he has committed. As Hercules rushes out to kill himself his friend Theseus stood before him telling him why he shouldn’t kill himself: “Even so, suffer and be strong,” (Hamilton 170).
Theseus is implying that that Hercules should be strong and wait for death because, “… he rejected the idea that a man could be guilty of a murder when he had not known what he was doing” (Hamilton 170). And so Hercules went on to his cousin Eurystheus and there his cousin gave him twelve tasks that he must perform in order to achieve death. As Hercules performs this action, he almost accomplishes them with ease and after finishing all of the tasks no death had been brought upon him so he brought death upon himself, and therefore avenged his actions against his family.
In the case of Spiderman, he serves his community in order to have a safe and secure community for himself and for the city. Spiderman willingly risks his life to keep the community in which he lives a safe place. Clearly myths and stories have evolved from serving the community in order to achieve eternal piece to thinking about others and performing deeds for others.
In conclusion, Hercules and Spiderman have many differences but their biggest difference is that Hercules performs his duties and heroic acts brainlessly, while Spiderman performs his heroic duties with intelligence and strategy. Our modern day myths no longer have the idea of atonement instead, the heroes serve their community willingly. This is what makes a hero a true hero.