Myths are stories that establish moral laws and models of behavior for people of a society. They often feature characters who are gods or heroes with supernatural abilities. In mythology, these heroes must overcome great challenges in order reach a final goal which is identified by the hero in the beginning of the story. The ending goal usually leads to some kind of moral theme that can be applied to everyone. These heroes are generally characterized as being very gifted, physically appealing, and very popular in their society.
The archetypal hero must pass several tests on his journey. These tests can take the form of powerful monsters that the hero must battle and defeat. There are several examples in Greek and Roman myths where heroes must fight god-like monsters in order to reach their goal. There is a repeating pattern that can be found with these monsters. Each monster can be categorized based on their role in the story and relationship to the hero. In Greek and Roman mythology, monsters often represent the inner struggle the hero must overcome in order to complete his mission.
Monsters are sometimes portrayed as servants of the gods and heroes. In Jason and the Gold Fleece, Argus built the Argo for Jason and the Argonauts. He also guarded Hera in an unrelated story. This demonstrates a more obedient, slave-like monster who may still contend with heroes. Cerberus was the three-headed dog that guarded the entrance of the underworld for Hades. In The Twelve Labours of Heracles, Heracles was instructed to capture Cerberus alive without the use of a weapon for his final task. This proves to be his greatest test, which he achieves in order to complete his mission. Monsters can take many roles and chal...
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... a labyrinth in Knossos on the island of Crete. He would use the beast to frighten his enemies. The Minotaur fought much like a human warrior and was burdened with human flaws. Eventually, the Minotaur was killed by Theseus. This shows how monsters can be human-like, but still serves their fundamental purpose of antagonizing the hero.
By defeating the monster, the hero is overcoming a barrier of humanity thereby separating them from the rest of mankind. Monsters are designed to be epically powerful in order to put fear into most humans. They define the greatness of the hero’s ability by serving as a great opponent. Once the hero has defeated the monster, they become brave in all other challenges. They gain a wisdom that they must bring back to the people of their society. The themes of many myths can often be found in the hero’s confrontation with the monster.
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