Should Hercules be somewhat grateful to Hera?

#1 Posted by seekquaze (572 posts) - - Show Bio

For most Greek heroes, their most famous deeds were due to either wanting to become heroes or having to right some wrong. Hercules' most famous deeds were punishment for a horrifying act. His chief antagonist was Hera. Yet ironically it is thanks to her he became the greatest of heroes and a god. His name means "Glory of Hera" reflects this. It was her breast milk that granted him some of his great strength. It was her trying to undermine Zeus' plans that condemned him to a life of servitude instead of a life as a king resulting in far greater glory then he could have received as a king. It was her tormenting him his entire life that drove him to commit the deeds no other hero came close to matching. Hera made Hercules suffer his entire life by committing deeds that have haunted him through the ages. Yet it was only through his opposition that he became the greatest of heroes.

Do you think Hercules ever reflects on the irony of his greatest Olympian foe was in a way his greatest benefactor among the gods? Some lesser known versions of Hercules state Hercules did not commit the twelve labors out of punishment for his family, but to prove himself worthy of immortality. While Marvel followed the much more common version of the story either way, one can argue Hera did much more to make Hercules great than Zeus ever did. I am not saying this excuses what Hera did, but it kind of puts a slightly different spin on things.

thoughts?

#2 Posted by PowerHerc (78172 posts) - - Show Bio

@seekquaze: I think it's true that Hera has, ironically, played a great role in Hercules becoming the greatest of all Greek heroes.

To be accurate, though, making Hercules into a great hero was never her intent. She intended to cause Hercules to experience abject failure and great humiliation. Hera wanted to dishonor Hercules and sought to make his life impossibly difficult and, it can be reasonably assumed, she sought to indirectly cause his death.

Hercules suffered many difficulties, hardships and embarrassments during his mortal life, some of them were his own doing and many were due to Hera. Despite all odds Hercules persevered and overcame each and every obstacle set before him and paid for every sin he committed. Hercules did become the greatest of the great but he did so due to his superhuman physical abilities, his courage and his own force of will. He did this in spite of Hera's will and wishes. Without Hera's interference in his life Hercules may not have become as great of a hero as he did but she didn't want and in no way tried to help him achieve any greatness (quite the opposite, in fact). Therefore I don't think he owes her any debt of gratitude whatsoever.

#3 Posted by seekquaze (572 posts) - - Show Bio

@powerherc: Yeah, I figured as much. I was mainly playing devil's advocate. I just sort of wonder if Hercules ever noticed the irony. In a way, he was one of the first for superheroes. Its the old story of the criminal creates their own worst enemy (or vice versa) . Hercules was the first mortal hero to experience this.

I think anyone would have to at least in a sad way appreciated the irony of his life. If Herc's life had followed Zeus' plan he would have probable slayed a few monsters and become a king like nearly every other hero. If Hera had tormented Hercules to the normal extent she did the other heroes she would have probable been the one who sent the monsters. It was only her going above and beyond (while Zeus barely did anything) that pushed Hercules so far.

#4 Posted by PowerHerc (78172 posts) - - Show Bio

@seekquaze:

I agree that Hercules was possibly the first superhero and also to the idea that the hero and villain are sometimes responsible for creating their own worst enemies. Herc's hard life of epic heroism was definitely largely due to Hera's wrath and much his greatness came because of it. That's ironic, indeed.

I wonder if Hera has ever realized that her machinations (which she intended to discredit, harm and maybe even kill Hercules) actually made him a much greater hero. Do you think Hera has considered that she has inadvertently made Hercules greater than he would ever would have been had she not interfered?

#5 Posted by seekquaze (572 posts) - - Show Bio

@powerherc: I think that is one of Hera's worst nightmares. Knowing Marvel Hera, I think if she ever realized it she would lie to herself to deny it and would somehow twist it to blame Hercules. Maybe because it is due to having only really seen her when she is riled up over Zeus and Hercules, but Marvel's Hera comes across as worse than any other version I have seen. As goddess of marriage, I can see why she is angry at Zeus for his infidelity's and why she takes it out on his children since she cannot do squat to him. Marvel's version though comes across as straight crazy.

#6 Posted by PowerHerc (78172 posts) - - Show Bio

@powerherc: I think that is one of Hera's worst nightmares. Knowing Marvel Hera, I think if she ever realized it she would lie to herself to deny it and would somehow twist it to blame Hercules. Maybe because it is due to having only really seen her when she is riled up over Zeus and Hercules, but Marvel's Hera comes across as worse than any other version I have seen. As goddess of marriage, I can see why she is angry at Zeus for his infidelity's and why she takes it out on his children since she cannot do squat to him. Marvel's version though comes across as straight crazy.

I agree; Marvel's Hera is the worst (most evil, most vindictive) of all the versions I've seen. Marvel has set her up as an antagonist to Hercules and, ever since "Hercules: The New Labors", they've done a fine job of it. I'm glad they do, too, especially in light of their decision to make Ares (after literally decades of being a straight-up villain) into more of an anti-hero and less of a villain.

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