A Comparison of Hercules and King Arthur

Topics: Hercules

Hercules and King Arthur came from two different cultures; Hercules is Greek while King Arthur is Celtic. The Greek culture was created before the Celtic culture but they co-existed at one point in time and were later taken over by the Roman Empire. The Greek and Celtic cultures were once independent civilizations, but under one empire, they changed and became more in common. One thing that they had shared were some gods and goddesses. The myth of Hercules and the Twelve Labours shows Greek culture because it includes the intervention of the ancient Greek gods and that the three Fates decided Hercules would suffer in his life to have his deeds remembered.

The three Fates were unique to Greek culture and are only present in two other cultures, Roman and Norse. The first sister spins the thread, the second sister measures and allots the length of the thread and the last sister cuts the sister. Another feature in this myth was the use of the Oracle at Delphi, in Apollo’s temple.

This oracle was popularly used by many Greek heroes to figure out their next quest or adventure and what to do. In the myth Arthur and the Two Swords, it shows Celtic features because it shows how the main characters in the myth evolve. There are many stages to Arthur’s legend, the first being the actual historical figure, the next is being transformed into a great hero, and the final stage is when he becomes a king and helps guide his people.

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The actual historical “Arthur” is said to be a war leader against the Anglo-Saxon invaders at that time. When King Arthur traveled with his brother and father, he accidentally pulls out the magical sword in the anvil. His decision to try to pull the sword out was important because he could have been afraid of being accused of stealing the sword. If this had happened, Britain would remain in a chaotic state with no secure governance. This results in him becoming the next British King and brought stability to the government of the British Isles because he showed that God had chosen him as the King. When he fought with King Pellinore, he broke his sword and Merlin helped him find a new sword, called the Excalibur. This sword, along with the sheathe, helped King Arthur to rule Britain because its magical powers showed that he was omnipotent.

Arthur’s choice to fight King Pellinore was also important in this myth because without fighting him, his sword would never have needed to be replaced and he wouldn’t have needed the Excalibur. Hercules journey was influenced by the gods, and his main goal was to redeem himself from the evil deeds he had done. The tasks set out for him by the goddess Hera were helpful to mankind because Hercules killed many harmful monsters, including the Nemean Lion, the Lernian Hydra and the Stymphalian Birds. All of Hercules’ tasks were significant because his bravery and critical thinking was tested in each of the twelve labours set out for him.

Any wrong decision could have wounded or killed him and would have ended his quest. On Arthur’s first adventure with Sir Ector (his father) and Sir Kay (his brother) to the tournament, he brings hope a sense of security since the miracle proved that God had chosen him for the role of the next British King. On his quest against King Pellinore, he is able to bring back two magical items, the Excalibur and its sheathe. No sword could withstand a blow with the Excalibur and the sheathe provided King Arthur a means of “immortality” since even if he was wounded severely, he would only lose a small amount of blood. Another small but important thing King Arthur brings back is knowledge about how King Pellinore would help him in the future as a Round Table knight.

In Hercules and the Twelve Labours, Hercules brought back many beasts and killed many deadly monsters. For example, Hercules was able to slay the Nemean Lion that terrorized the city of Nemea and took the pelt that was impenetrable. When he cleaned out the Aegean stables, it was a good thing for King Augeas to have a much cleaner stable for his cattle. One labour not included in Mythic Voices is the Erymanthian Boar. In this labour, Hercules captures the Erymanthian Boar that would attack villages near the Erymanthos Mountain and brings it back to King Eurystheus. Another labour that helped humans was when Hercules had to slay the Stymphalian Birds. These birds were deadly because they were man eating and their feathers were razor sharp, so if you fell during flight, it could kill a person.

In general, the Celtic and Greek cultures are different in their ways, but share some common gods and goddesses mainly because they were under the rule of the Roman Empire once. Another thing Celtic and Greek myths have in common was that Arthur “aged” in his myth and so did Hercules, considering he became immortal after helping the gods.


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A Comparison of Hercules and King Arthur. (2022, Mar 04). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/a-comparison-of-hercules-and-king-arthur/

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