Friday, February 12, 2016

Mythological Misconceptions: What Disney Got Wrong

Let me start by saying this: I love anything that brings Greek Mythology from the nerdy corner of the Classics department to the Main Stage, however, I watched Hercules this morning(the Disney one), and I couldn't help but notice some inaccuracies (from the actual myth).

First, a general point. In almost none of Greek mythology is Hades, or Pluto if you want to use the Roman name, an evil figure. Yes, he is the ruler of the Underworld, but that does not make him a villain. When the Gods defeated the Titans, the world was divided into three parts: sea, underworld, and everything else. Poseidon got the sea (I'm just going to stick with the Greek names for simplicity at the moment), Hades the Underworld, and Zeus everything else because he was the one who did the actual defeating of the Titans. Frankly, Hades probably has the most power because he has the most people in his kingdom and there's other myths about this, which I can get into at a later date.

Alright, back to Hercules specifically, or as he is mostly referred to in Greek text, Heracles. I'm going to breeze through this mistakes relatively quickly, if you want more info, there's a ton of stuff online, and I can answer questions in the comments. We are going in no particular order.

1. Hercules was NOT Hera's child. In the original myth, Hercules is the child of Zeus(Disney got that part right), and Alcmene, a mortal woman. Hera was incredibly jealous of all of the women that Zeus slept with, and she tried to kill Hercules with two snakes in his bed.

2. Hercules did not have to attack various monsters to beat Hades, because as was mentioned, only Hera was persecuting him, not Hades. These monsters, or most of them anyways, were tasks set out for him by Equrystheus.

3. This is small, but it bothered me. In the movie, Hercules encounters a Hydra that starts with only one head. The hydra is supposed to have nine heads, and Hercules does not kill the Hydra by dropping a mountain on it; he kills the Hydra by burning the necks after he cuts off the heads. There is also many of the more boring labors of Hercules that Disney glosses over for obvious reasons.

I'm sure that I'm missing some stuff, and there are many other things about Greek mythology that I could talk about, but we can do that later. Shabbat Shalom to all who celebrate.

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