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Comparison of The Short Story Heracles and The Film Hercules

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Almost everyone’s heard of the myth of Hercules, but it’s told differently every time. This depends on the format, and I will be focusing on the differences between a short story and an animated film, both telling the story of Hercules, or Heracles. The film was created by Disney and published in 1997 and contains songs and dynamic characters in relation to the legend. Heracles is a short story that cuts out the added humor and creativity but does not lack in description.

In both versions, Hercules and Heracles is the son of Zeus, the head god of Greek mythology, but in the short story his mother is a princess named Alcmena, and in the film his mother is Hera. In the film when Hercules was a baby Hades, the antagonist, made him drink a potion that turns him half mortal and half god. This makes him have earned his “godhood”. In the story the antagonist is a jealous Hera, who curses Heracles with misfortunes. Throughout both formats, Hercules and Heracles are distinctly distinguished from others because of their extraordinary strength. In the film, he is raised by two peasants while in the story he is at first raised in a palace. His strong ability causes him to be isolated from others. The teenage Hercules in the movie is confused and saddened by his difference and goes to a temple to talk to Zeus’s spirit who informs him that he is half god as well as mortal and that he has to earn his godhood in order to live in Olympus again. In the short tale, he was a farmer, ridding the field of the beasts that lived there. He was then proclaimed a hero and was given a bride who he had children with soon after.

Hera had enough of Heracles success and popularity. She plagued him with insanity, and he killed his children unwittingly. He had to compensate for his sins by being a slave to his poor cousin who had despised him because of his power. His cousin, Eurystheus, was given orders from Hera to put Heracles through the most demeaning, laborious, and dangerous tasks ever. On the other hand, Hercules has found a goat named Phil, short for Philoctetes, who reluctantly agrees to train him. Hercules and Heracles performed many similar tasks such as the killing of a dangerous boar, the slaying of a regenerating dragon, and others. However, some of Heracles tasks were more geared towards humility and intelligence while Hercules was focused on brute force and heroism. For starters, he forced to clean up the stables of the king, which had not been cleaned for years. Heracles rerouted two rivers and made them flow into the stables to flush the mess out. He also had to capture one of Artemis’ deer without harming it and capture a herd of red cows without killing or losing them. After completing those tasks and more he is free from his cousin’s slavery. After he was free from the slavery however, Hera cursed him with insanity once again causing him to kill more people. This resulted in him being made a slave to queen Omphale’s. She would make him wear women’s dresses while she wore his lion skin. he served for three years before learning his humbling lesson.

After becoming well-trained Hercules meets a girl named meg who was sent by Hades to find his weaknesses so Hades could destroy him. However, due to them falling in love with each other, Hades kidnaps Meg and uses her to convince Hercules to give up his strength for a day to keep her safe. During this time Hades unleashes the Titans onto Olympus, the place where the gods live. Hercules tries to defeat one of the titans and succeeds, but Meg gets hurt which breaks the deal with Hades causing him to regain his strength back. After making sure Meg was safe, he then proceeded to Olympus to fight the rest of the Titans. However, when he returns, he discovers that Meg has died, and he goes to the underworld to retrieve Meg’s soul from Hades. After he goes through a strenuous test, and succeeds, he returns Meg’s soul to her body and regains his “godhood” because he risked his life for another. In the film after Hercules achieves his “godhood”, he goes to Olympus, where the gods and goddesses there welcome him with appreciative and open arms. He embraces his mother and father; Zeus tells him he did well and welcomes him home. However, Hercules wants to stay in the mortal world with his love, Meg. Zeus allows him to return with Meg and Phil along with a Pegasus to look after him.

Heracles is finally able to meet his friend King Admetus, only to find the kingdom in sorrow. The king had made deal with the fates to not cut his thread but to find someone to take his place instead. However, his wife was the only one that volunteered. Heracles hearing of the news heroically went to the underworld to confront hades and retrieve the queen’s soul. Heracles, after being a part of such a moving display of love and devotion, now decides that he’s like a wife. He wins a battle against a shape-shifting river god named Achelous for the hand of Princess Deianira. While in the movie Hercules had to fight a river god as well until meg attempted to convince the river god to join forces with Hercules other than marrying her. Later, a centaur who goes by the name of Nessus tries to take the girl until kills him. But before he dies, he gives the girl some of his blood claiming that it will make Heracles faithful to her in times of doubt. However, when she used it, it only proved to be poisonous and it kills Heracles. In the end Heracles soul goes to Olympus and he defeats the beasts that dare to attack Olympus and he lives happily ever after there.

In conclusion, the theme of the short story format with Heracles is humility, courage and heroism whereas the theme of the 1997 Disney film with Hercules was about finding oneself and knowing how to be true hero. Formats change the way stories are told, the characters, the events, the plot, and it even alter the theme.

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Comparison Of The Short Story Heracles And The Film Hercules. (2021, August 06). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 23, 2023, from
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