Analysis On The Pattern Of Mythical Heroes' Deaths - University Of California, Los Angeles - Research Paper

2100 words - 9 pages

Page �1
Name: Luming (Max) Zhou
GE30 Section 1F
GSI: Hannah Byers-Brown
Paper #2
Date: March 11th, 2019
Beauty of Heroic Death
Throughout time, people have created heroes that we can always remember at the
tip of our tongues, either they came from novels, comic books, movies, or ancient myths
and legends. For most of the heroes, they can be categorised into two general types:
ones that live happily ever after the “impossible” quest and ones that die and be
remembered by generations. This essay will be focusing on the latter category of heroes,
by looking at the tale of Hercules from Ancient Greek mythology and two of its multiforms,
the Celtic tale of Cuchulainn from Ulster Cycle and the Jewish tale of Samson from the
Book of Judges, these three primary heroes all share the similarity of heroic ending of
their lives by choosing their own ways to die. Through close reading of each tale, it is
crystal clear that the legendary deaths of these heroes magnify their tales’ unifying theme
of heroes’ pride and and make the reader remembering their names.
From Ancient Greek narratives of heroes to modern superhero movies, in order for
the audience to be able to remember their legacies, a significant numbers of narratives
choose to end the tale with a memorable scene of the hero. In the article “The Hero
Beyond Himself: Heroic Death in Ancient Greek Poetry and Art,” the author Corinne
Ondine Pache concludes that the majority of ancient tales depicting glorious heroes tie
heroism and death very closely. Heroes are not only defined by their identity and their
great deeds during their lifetimes. In contrast, they are only deeply remembered by the
fact that they have experienced mortality and transcended to a “hērõ”, a greek term for
existence beyond death. (Pache, P. 89)
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In the tale of demigod Hercules recorded by Apollodorus of Ancient Greece, after
finishing the famous 12 labours, time passes to when Hercules has defeated the centaur
Nessus, who has deeply offended Hercules’s second wife Deianira. Deianira fears that
Hercules had an affair with Iole, therefore puts what she believes is love potion (but is the
poisonous blood of Nessus) on Hercules’s ceremonial tunic. As soon as Hercules wears
the tunic, the poison of the hydra started to penetrate into his skin. He tries to tear off the
tunic but the poison is stuck on to his body, which forced him to pull off his flesh with it.
In such badly wounded condition, Hercules was brought back by ship to Trachis. Deianira
commits suicide after she realised she has killed her husband, while Hercules knows that
death is near, yet he refuses to die on a bed like others, which is why he goes to Mountain
Oeta, constructs a pyre (an enormous pile of combustible heap of woods), and orders
Poeas to ignite the pyre. As Apollodorus recored in the Bibliotheca, “the pyre then burns a
cloud is said to have enveloped Hercules and to have raised him up to heaven with a
clash of thunder by his father Zeus (Apollodorus,...

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