The Heroes


It would be a mistake to think of the heroes of the ancient Greeks and Romans in the same way that we perceive heroes of today. It is tempting to view them as role models: after all, they were inspiring to ordinary Greeks and Romans, who would try to emulate them by becoming great warriors and victorious athletes, or taking part in hunts and symposia.

However, although ancient heroes could be admired, they were seen as far from perfect. Whether drawn from myth or real life, heroes could be cruel, power hungry, aggressive and debauched. They might perform great feats of courage and skill, but many also suffered great tragedies or died alone and abandoned. Often there is little to set the ancient heroes apart from the monsters and anti-heroes they fought: their enemies could also exhibit worthy traits, hold tremendous power and exact terrible and violent revenge.