Friday, 14 October 2016

Myth vs the Mouse: Hercules

I am a huge fan of Disney but being a family orientated company sometimes they leave out the less savory aspects of the stories they base their movies on because its not an image they want to portray. This however might leave a whole generation of kids thinking that the Disney version is the truth. I'm starting with Hercules because Greek Myths are one of my favourites. So here are three things that Disney didn't tell you.

1. Parents

Hercules was not the son of Zeus and Hera. He was not stolen from Olympus as a child and turned mortal, making him a demi god. He was a demi god because one of his parents was a mortal. Zeus was a known philander in ancient myth, much to his wife's dismay, often taking guises in order to seduce mortal women. Hercules's mother was one such woman - named Alcmene. He was also the great grandson/half brother of Perseus who Zeus had also fathered with a mortal.

2. Love

In the Disney film you have his one true love as the Sassy Megara and you are left to imagine that at the end of the film they get married and live happily ever after. Although Hercules first wife was named Megara - the daughter of Creon, King of Thebes who was offered as his bride after he defeated Minyans saving Thebes they did not not get a HEA. Hera - the many spurned wife of Zeus cursed Hercules with a fit of madness causing him to murder his wife and their two children. He married again twice more after that, dying at the hands of his third wife who gave him a poisonous shirt to wear thinking it a charm to stop him from committing infidelity.

3. Hades

Hades is the bad guy in Disneys Hercules. However in the myth although mortals feared him (as who doesn't fear death) he was not evil. He was actually more altruistically inclined in myth, often portrayed as  passive and taking his role of maintaining the balance between life and death very seriously. Where as his brothers Zeus and Poseidon gallivanted about among mortals making many half breed children, he did not, he stayed in the underworld doing his job, making sure the dead came to the underworld and stayed there. He was known for having a temper true but only when you crossed him or tried to cheat him. He is most famous for his kidnap of the Persephone to make her his wife but Myth actually argues whether or not she was complicit. He was most certainly faithful to her but the one time his eye wandered, nothing came of it because his wife turned the woman into the plant we now know as mint.

I hope you have enjoyed this look at the real stories behind the animated feature.

1 comment:

  1. I have often felt bewildered watching children's stories that clash with what I was taught or learned about the actual event's or history/legends.