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The Representation of Classical Heroes

Autor:   •  December 22, 2017  •  2,700 Words (11 Pages)  •  588 Views

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In the Kleophrades hydria, painted and potted by Kleophrades in 490-480 B.C strategy and violence are both depicted. The subject matter of this vase is the fall of Troy. The first section of the image is a symbol of hope, showing there were survivors from Troy. This is strategic in saying that even though there is violence, you can survive. The third section is a soldier killing the king in a religious area, which isn’t strategic, but pure violence. It can be interpreted as a warning to the Trojans about the ruthlessness of the Athenians. Kleophrades used this vase as an allegory[7]. In 480 B.C the Persians burnt Athens. This vase is a warning to the Athenians not to repeat the pay-back they enacted on the Trojans, on the Persians. Another vase that shows ancient heroic traits is the Berlin painter volute krater. The potter is unknown but it was painted by the Berlin painter around 500-480 B.C. The subject matter of this vase is Achilles fighting Memnon and Hector. In this vase Achilles is shown as a strategic warrior. His opponents are shown off-guard, therefore being careless. Achilles spear is aimed in both scenes and his shield is out, where his opponents and both in inappropriate positions. Two Exekias vases (both potted and painted by Exekias) portray Achilles in different ways, both during the Trojan war. One as a violent warrior and the other as a strategic player. In the Penthesilea amphora Achilles is shown killing a woman. This woman is the queen of the Amazons, Penthesilea, who is on the Trojan side. Achilles is a very violent hero and usually very strategic. However in the myth that this vase is showing, Achilles falls in love with Penthesilea as he kills her, seeing her face when her helmet falls off. If Achilles had strategically checked who he was killing she would’ve lived and they could’ve loved each other. The Exekias belly amphora shows Achilles and Ajax playing a board game in a tent during the Trojan war. There are inscriptions implying Achilles is calling ‘four’ and Ajax ‘three’. Not only can Achilles strategically fight but he can use his intelligence outside of the battlefield. Achilles could be out, ruthlessly killing but instead he’s taking a break, playing a board game with Ajax, which he appears to be winning. Around the time Achilles was alive he was ruthless which made him a very strategic and successful hero. He never lost, which means he was also very skilled. [pic 1][pic 2][pic 3]

The first modern text that fails to portray heroes in an accurate way is the 1997 animated film Hercules, directed by John Musker and Ron Clements. This representation is targeted at young children in America. The values of the hero Hercules are different to the art and literature sources. The values are what the director wanted children to think of heroes as and what they should strive towards to be a modern hero, in the form of an ancient one. The first scene where Hercules is shown to display heroic traits is where he’s trying to get his big break as a hero, in a town which just had a natural disaster. According to this film, heroes must be trained by hero ‘trainers’. The townspeople don’t believe he’s a real hero as he’s had no real experience making him an amateur. “You’ll get your chance, you just need some kind of catastrophe or disaster.” Phil, his mentor, encourages him to keep trying. Although being turned away by the people is disheartening for Hercules he continues to be hopeful. Later in the film, Hercules gets his first shot as a ‘hero’. He doesn’t know what he’s fighting, which happens to be a hydra, meaning he uses an incorrect strategy and ends up almost dying. The image shows how he kept trying to cut off the heads, which resulted in many more heads growing back. In the literature source speaking about this same event, Hercules is strategic and successful. In this film source he is inexperienced and unsuccessful at first, until he gets advice from his mentor. “Phil you got to admit that was pretty heroic.” These are Hercules words after he defeats the hydra, showing him as confident. The townspeople then reward him with fame, money and respect. After this there is then a montage of the rest of his heroic feats. The song ‘Zero to Hero’ speaks about how he needed popularity for him to become a hero. He is portrayed as young, famous, attractive and undefeated after gaining popularity. At the beginning of the film, Zeus (his father) says that the only way he can become immortal is to be a ‘true hero’, but even after all his heroic feats he is still mortal. The scene when he becomes immortal again displays what the director wants the audience to view as what a hero really is. Hercules is in the underworld with Hades. Meg, the girl Hercules loves has just had her soul taken. Hercules offers Hades a deal, if he gives Meg her life again, he can take his soul instead. Hades agrees, so Hercules dives into the river to find Meg’s soul, by this time he is almost dead as the river is fatal to mortals. The fates pull the ‘thread’ symbolising his life and get ready to cut it as he’s dying, but when they try the thread can’t be cut. Hercules became immortal (as he reached ‘true hero’ status) from sacrificing his own life for the person he loved. This shows him as a passionate and warm-hearted hero. This is the most important representation of Hercules in the whole film as it is what the director wants the audience, children, to look up too. This film is targeted at another audience than the other texts, meaning the purpose and moral is different. The stories have been altered to have a message focussed on love and acceptance as opposed to strategic violence.[pic 4]

The passage from Homer’s Iliad, also on the Berlin painter volute krater, describes the way Achilles kills Hector. This is also shown in the film Troy[8], directed by Wolfgang Petersen. This modern representation of Achilles can be easily compared to the ancient portrayal. In Troy the scene starts when Achilles and Hector putting on their armour. Hector’s armour was detailed and new, where Achilles was well-worn and basic. Briseis plead Achilles not to go as Hector is her cousin but he ignored her and rode to Troy on a chariot, alone. When he arrived he called for Hector. The archers at the top of the Troy gates prepared to shoot at Achilles but Hector stopped them as he was the one who wanted to fight Achilles. This was very valiant of him as the chances of his success was very low. Hector talked to his father, Paris, wife and child before going down to meet Achilles. Hector tried to make a deal with Achilles, “with the Gods as our witnesses, let us pledge that the winner will allow the loser all proper funeral rituals.” Hector’s words only infuriated Achilles more, “There are no pledges between lions and men.” The director had chosen to portray


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