Theseus and Achilles were both great heroes that played important roles in Greek Mythology. Theseus saved many lives by killing a Minotaur, and by solving the labyrinth. Achilles was a fierce combatant for the Greeks in the Trojan War. Both heroes accomplished many great challenges in their lifetimes; however, it is hard to decide who the better hero is. While both Achilles and Theseus fought for their people, Achilles was more concerned about his own well-being, whereas Theseus cared more others. Throughout Theseus’s and Achilles’s lives, Theseus led a much more selfless life than Achilles.
When Oedipus was thrust out of his city, Theseus took him in. Oedipus was hated by everyone. Under Apollo’s Oracle of Delphi, Oedipus was foretold to marry his mother, start a family with her, and kill his father. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened. Theseus knew exactly what happened and yet happily took him in. “He (Theseus) received the aged Oedipus whom everyone else had cast out” (Hamilton 215). On the other hand, Achilles could not care less about others. When Achilles was called to go fight for the Greeks, he stayed in his tent.
“While Achilles stayed in his tent a fierce battle followed, the hardest yet fought” (Hamilton 263). Agamemnon, a fighter for the Greeks, made Apollo angry because he took the daughter of Apollo’s priest, Chrysies, and would not return her. Apollo punished the Greeks by sending arrows down that sickened and killed them. Achilles was angry with Agamemnon because he made things difficult and his actions resulted in many Greek deaths. Achilles’s mother disliked the Greeks and told Achilles to stop fighting for them. Achilles had no problem rejecting his own people.
Achilles actions verify that he was selfish. Although Achilles was a great fighter in the Trojan War, Theseus proved to be courageous in the labyrinth. In fact, Theseus volunteered himself to go into the labyrinth. “At one Theseus 2 came forward to be one of the victims” (Hamilton 212). Theseus volunteered knowing the danger he was getting into. The labyrinth had never been solved, and there was a Minotaur in there that had killed many people. Theseus made the courageous decision of going into the labyrinth, killing the Minotaur, and solving the labyrinth.
Achilles was not nearly as courageous as Theseus was. Achilles tried to get out of going into the Trojan War. His mother said he would die if he went into the war so she dissuaded him. “The sea nymph knew if he went to Troy he was to die there” (Hamilton 258). Because Achilles did not want to fight, he dressed up like a girl so he would not have to go into the War. Achilles’s act of dressing like a girl when the Greeks needed him proves him to be a coward. Theseus and Achilles were different when it came to respect. Theseus was respectful and Achilles was not.
Theseus showed respect for the Thebans when they asked for their loved ones to be buried. Theseus did not make the decision himself, but instead let the people of Athens decide. “If the citizens consent, then I will go to Thebes” (Hamilton 390). Theseus considered their request which shows he was respectful. Achilles however was not respectful. When Achilles killed Hector, Achilles tied Hector’s body to the back of his chariot and dragged Hectors body behind it.
“He (Achilles) pierced the feet of the dead man and fastened them with thongs to the back of his chariot” (Hamilton 274). Achilles showed no respect for the Trojans or the gods. Achilles angered the gods with his act. Achilles was rude and disrespectful. Theseus and Achilles were similar in some ways but their differences ultimately made one hero superior over the other. Overall Theseus was selfless, courageous, and respectful towards others. Achilles was cowardly, selfish, and disrespectful. It is obvious who the better hero was. Achilles and Theseus were both great heroes, but ultimately, Theseus is the greater hero.
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