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Characteristics of Heroism in Mythology by Edith Hamilton

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Heroes are like candles as they can metaphorically light up a dim room and melt, lighting the candle sets a relief of fright as one has the ability to see their surroundings, while blowing it out can make one’s heart pound with the fear that they are alone. The action of a candle melting represents heroes as they melt from too much pressure. Without heroes the room is dark and alarming, but when heroes are after us protecting individuals, one feels safe and secure. In Mythology by Edith Hamilton there are many characteristics of heroism. The characters Psyche and Medea demonstrates how they are courageous in both negative and positive ways. Theseus and Venus convince how they are determined in negative and positive ways. Aegeus and Psyche results in patience in both positive ways.First and foremost, heroes are depicted as courageous. Courage faces the difficulties of threat with overpowering negative emotions, therefore, heroes recognizing their goal with a positive mindset can assist themselves in wanting success.

In “Cupid and Psyche” this can be demonstrated through Psyche as she shows courage by overcoming obstacles. When Cupid fell deep in sleep, Psyche crept into his bedside and dropped hot oil on his arms. Without a sound, Cupid flew out the window. In order for Psyche to see Cupid, she has to overcome obstacles given to her by Venus the goddess of love. This incident impacted the following characters in a positive way because Psyche overcomes impossible tasks for Cupid. Psyche would not have been able to persevere through the impossible tasks if it was not for her courage. “It was no use to start a task so manifestly impossible.” (Hamilton 129) At first Psyche did not have courage in herself for mastering all these tasks, however, as she started carrying out the tasks given to her, she gained help from nature. Before putting oneself down, one should always believe in themselves for they should have courage. Although this may be true in “Theseus” this can be demonstrated as a negative perspective. Medea shows courage by pouring poison in a cup of wine. This incident impacted the community in a negative way because Medea tries to poison Theseus. since she does not want him to be King. “But as she handed him the poisoned cup Theseus, wishing to make himself known at once to his father drew his sword” (Hamilton 205) Medea hands Theseus the poisoned cup as this is a sign of courage, since she was so brave enough to deal with either being caught or punished. However, Aegeus has noticed Theseus’ sandal and threw the cup to the side.

In both myths these show the negative and positive ways of courage. While Psyche portrayed a beneficial way of courage, Medea characterized a harmful and negative way of courage. Equally as important pride is another key element towards heroism as it affects individuals negatively and positively. Pride carries a limit, if one expresses too much it will affect others negatively and if one expresses just the right amount it will spread as a positive change. In “Cupid and Psyche” this can be viewed from Venus as she developed too much pride in herself for her beauty. Psyche was the most beautiful mortal of all, some say that even Venus could not compare. As of this Venus’ temples were betrayed and left alone, and of course Venus wanted to seek revenge. Venus asked her son Cupid to make her fall in love with an ugly winged creature. Now that her request has been made she went without a worry, and having pride in herself for everyone will still adore her. This incident made Venus seem very narcissistic which is bad for a hero. “Venus left him with the happy confidence that he would swiftly bring about Psyche’s ruin.” This shows how Venus was so pleased with her command that she left Cupid be. Thinking that Cupid would obey her commands she was satisfied and continued being confident and narcissistic. In addition having pride in yourself is negative, but having pride in helping others achieve.

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