The Characteristics
of the Greek Hero
What makes a hero in
Greek Mythology?
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Having one immortal parent
Being born into royalty
Having an unusual conception or
birth
Being favored by the gods
Being the subject of a prophesy
Being abandoned at birth or while
very young
Performing an amazing feat at a
young age
Going on a quest
Traveling to the underworld
Marrying a princess
Having a flaw or fault which leads
to his downfall.
Dying an ignoble death as a result
of his flaw.
Relationship with the
Gods…
 Often a Greek Hero is known
as a Demi-God. He is the son
of a God, most often Zeus or
Poseidon, though Aphrodite
and Thetis have two of the
most famous.
 He will be favored. Gods will
grant him greater strength,
wisdom, courage, etc… than
other men.
 Often he will receive gifts from the
Gods as well as guidance.
Flawed often fatal…
 Though Greek Heroes are larger
than life, they will always be cut
down to size. They will be flawed in
some significant way which will
most often lead to their death or
their loved ones.
 Achilles-Rage, lack of humanity
 Theseus-Selfishness, carelessness.
 Odysseus-Ego
 Heroes greatest challenge will be
in facing their own mortality.
 Most of the greatest heroes must visit
the underworld during their lifetimes.
Epithets…
 Epithets were a big part of Greek Literature, especially
the most famous examples, the Homeric Epics.
 Def: a descriptive adjective or phrase that is repeatedly
used with—or in place of—a noun or proper name.
 Modern Example:
 “The man of steel”—Superman
 “The Dark Knight”—Batman
 Greek Example:
 “Wine dark sea”—The Odyssey
Achilles: (Honors)
 Look at pg. 121 #5. What Epithet would
you choose for Achilles?
 Agamemnon?
 Nestor?
 What makes Achilles a hero? What do
you think of him?
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The Characteristics of the Greek Hero