Superheroes: Then And Now
Unless stated or identified on the contrary, I presume that buried under any plateful of mythological spaghetti lays a morsel of your really meaty meatball. Alas, our modern superheroes happen to be identified to the contrary - they all are meatball-less pure mythological pasta. Superman (and Supergirl too), Batman (and Robin), Tarzan, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash, The Phantom, Buffy, Van Helsing, Mission impossible, and multi-dozens more are meatball-less.
Modern superheroes, those with abilities unusual, might additionally include individuals with exceptional mental and/or observational abilities as opposed to pure superpowers, brawn or athletic skills - examples might include Sherlock Holes, Perry Mason, Miss Jane Maple or Hercule Poirot; perhaps those that have a quick gun like Paladin (TV's "Have Gun - Will Travel"). Alas, they too are meatball-less fictional pasta.
The superheroes of yesteryear when mythology allegedly ruled was lacking real superpowers unless we were holding deities naturally. Nevertheless the deity's powers paled compared to our modern superheroes - some lighting bolt chucking here; a bit of shape-shifting there (though what a pretty neat superpower). Even a lot of the gods needed chariots to obtain around, or horses or that they to hoof it themselves. There was a few exceptions like Hermes (Mercury to the Romans) who'd special high-tech winged sandals along with a winged helmet.
Eliminating that category - the 'gods' - the rest of the superheroes of middle ages times did not have real superpowers (X-ray vision, faster-than-a-speeding-bullet velocities) or super-ultra high-tech gadgets like jetpacks and vehicles just like the Batmobile or rings like Green Lantern's to assist them. However, they had powers, usually nerves-of-steel and/or massive strength. Were they as fictional, as meatball-less as our modern day superheroes?
Now I ought to clarify things i really mean by superheroes. It is not a great deal having special superpower abilities, or possessing high-tech far beyond the standard, though that's some of it. It's more that superheroes, past or present are heroes by profession, even if sometimes reluctantly. Or, superheroes are superheroes at least as a matter of personal pride or sense of duty and thus it's actually a serious hobby. Superman doesn't save the world one time; he does it time and again. Jessica Fletcher (TV's "Murder, She Wrote") doesn't solve one whodunit, only one murder mystery to another to another. Paladin doesn't outdraw one outlaw, but routinely, episode after episode. Maybe the notion of superheroes could be summarized as those with the "Right Stuff".
Now surely logic dictates how the non-deity superheroes of ancient times share one common trait with the superheroes of 'today', 'today' looked as say back from the events of our grandparents and great grandparents to include the superheroes of the times - that commonality is because, then and also now, are imaginary. Well, I'm not really so sure.
I'll restrict myself here mainly on the language of ancient greece (and therefore Roman) superhero clan, including a few others that fall outside that immediate pigeonhole. I'll do that since 1) it's those who are most familiar to all of us and a couple of) it saves this essay from developing in a book-length tome.
Here's our cast of ancient non-deity superheroes (though many are demigods). Remember that there's nothing within the ancient texts that chronicles the exploits of those figures that explicitly states they may be imaginary or fictional make-believe entities. There isn't any such disclaimer. It's just like there isn't any disclaimer that the Bible can be a work of fiction though Biblical tales are way more outlandish than anything the standard Greeks dreamt in their philosophy.
Alexander the Great (356 - 323 BCE) - There's surely no doubt concerning the reality of this man, even though military 'superheroes' (according to you may be around the winning or losing side) can be a dime-a-dozen, every country in each and every era has some, Alex is additionally known heroically for taming the wild horse Bucephalus as well as for undoing the Gordian Knot (though in certain versions he cheated somewhat).
Bellerophon (Greek) tamed nature and winged horse Pegasus, and killed a monster too (see below).
Beowulf was a pre-8th Century CE Scandinavian warrior whose main claim to fame was monster-slaying (again, see below).
Daedalus in Greek mythology is better generally known as daddy to Icarus. Both of them donned self-manufactured wax-wings in order to escape imprisonment in Crete, and even though daddy cautioned his son to never fly too near the Sun, son did this and as a result the wax holding the feathers of his wings melted and young Icarus did a swan dive in to the sea coming from a higher altitude than is commonly recommended. Of course that section of the story is idiotic on two counts. Firstly, as you rise higher from the atmosphere the temperature gets colder. Secondly, the Sun is 93 million miles away, so regardless if you are with an altitude of 1000 feet or 10,000 feet or 100,000 feet it's hardly associated with a consequence in terms of being that much nearer to the sun's rays. That aside, Daedalus travelled throughout the globe on his hand-crafted wings, which is well represented throughout the Greek influenced Mediterranean region, for example on Sicily. That aside and just before his acquisition of manufactured winged transport, Daedalus was credited with allowing the Labyrinth on Crete when the Minotaur (part man, part bull) was trapped in to devour teenage boys and females.
Hercules: Now wait, isn't Hercules really imaginary? Well, quite in addition to the Tv series and various movies that come with him and his awesome mythology (some modern, some ancient), the guy has four or five entire towns named after him, so you've to become pretty special and probably pretty real, which is more than I could say for modern superheroes. What is the Batmanville or Superman City? What are some of those ancient websites that so honour Hercules? Well there's Heracleion for the border between Macedon and Northern Thessaly; Heraklion (Crete); the port capital of scotland- Herakleion (Egypt), now submerged some four miles offshore; and naturally Herculaneum (Italy), which, together with Pompeii was wiped out when Mount Vesuvius did it's ka-boom thing in 79 CE. Aside from that you have the Pillars of Hercules by the Straits of Gibraltar. Least us take into account the rather numerous quantity of temples constructed and specialized in him (there is many a Hercules cult back then), as well as more statues than you will find museums for - well not quite but you'll find an awful lot ones; statues which is. Then too his image is featured on various coins with the realm dating from the 4th and 5th Centuries BCE. Some sources accredit the creation of the Olympics to Hercules. So good PR to have an imaginary character!
I maintain that if cities, towns, villages, settlements of any kind and various geographical features are named after people, they're named after real people, not mythological or imaginary ones. And when you admit that Hercules existed then his daddy also existed, and that was some minor character named Zeus!
Jason (along with the Argonauts) continued a treasure hunt for that Golden Fleece with Hercules up to speed as crew (among many more). They had many great heroic adventures together!
King Gilgamesh - there really was a King Gilgamesh, ruler of Warka (Uruk) in the early 3rd Millennium BCE of Mesopotamia. The wall he built around Uruk is his archaeological state they fame. He too had many heroic adventures as outlined inside the "Epic of Gilgamesh".
King Arthur, as outlined by scholars, probably has some historical foundation, and in all likelihood lived throughout the 5th or 6th Centuries CE, albeit well removed from Excalibur, the Round Table and Merlin. There's really without a doubt there was clearly some relatively famous chieftain back then that over time morphed into the popular image of King Arthur, Camelot and the Arthurian legends/mythology.
Odysseus (or Ulysses for the Romans) was the character from the 120 month super heroic odyssey called by Homer, curiously "The Odyssey". It turned out a companion volume to "The Iliad" and also, since "The Iliad" led Heinrich Schliemann to find out and excavate Troy (once thought to be pure fiction), plus there is every reason to think "The Odyssey" isn't an work of fiction either (Homer never says so) nevertheless the historic chronicles of our own superhero, Odysseus. Odysseus have also been among the heroes inside the "Iliad" as well as the Trojan War. He crafted the theory for your Wooden Horse among other heroic deeds inside the Battle of Troy (see below for a lot of much more of his adventures).
Oedipus, in good old fashion whodunit detective logic solved the riddle from the Sphinx (thereby avoided becoming Sphinx-food). The Sphinx in this instance was still being a hybrid creature nevertheless the Greek version, not the greater famous Egyptian one. The Greek counterpart had the top of an woman, our bodies of an lion and wings. From what ancient images survive in the Greek Sphinx, I gather 'she' was rather well endowed. Anyway, once bested, once her riddle was solved, 'she' committed suicide.
As the Trojan War is far too large in scope when it comes to citing the exploits of all heroes concerned here, an added mention will perform. King Agamemnon of Mycenae who commanded the army loaded onto those 1000 ships (plus 13 more) launched with that face - the facial skin of Helen, wife of Menelaus (King of Sparta) and brother to King Agamemnon. Mycenae was excavated by Heinrich Schliemann (of Troy fame). Though a relatively minor site in the time, Mycenae and it is Lion Gate are now among the most famous historic and archaeological sites in Greece.
The key occupation of our ancient superheroes was coping with, usually killing monsters. I assume there was clearly a shortage of mad scientists bent on world domination BCE; master criminals wanting to illegally corner the gold market back then; i gather alien invaders were invading someplace else at that time as well. The task description for superheroes has certainly blown in all of the proportion since period of Hercules! Anyway, dealing with monsters was occupation enough previously.
Bellerophon, tamer of Pegasus the flying horse, also killed the Chimaera, a gruesome monster, a hybrid composite of lion, snake and goat.
Beowulf (the warrior) had his Grendel to slay, as soon as that's accomplished, he previously to manage Grendel's pissed-off mother. That as well was accomplished. However, Five decades of solace later, the now King Beowulf went down swinging against a dragon, but the dragon was struck out too. It's really a tied football game with players retired through the living.
Hercules encountered a lot of beasties when doing his twelve labours, several of which were the thing of his ordeals. However, in only two labours did he apparently slay the critters; a monstrous lion as well as the multi-headed Hydra. Though he killed some man-eating birds, he drove away almost all of the flock of these predatory birds in their sixth trial. He captured a great deal of animals alive if required in some of his other exploits, as being a hind, a boar, a bull, some mares, a herd of oxen, and Cerberus.
Odysseus, on his way where you can Ithaca from Troy, gave the Cyclops called Polyphemus a difficult time. Unfortunately it was a poor move mainly because it really pissed-off the god in the sea, Poseidon (Neptune to the Romans). So if you might be undertaking a sea voyage, trying to get back home towards the little lady from the household after having a 120 month absence - fighting that Trojan War - you undoubtedly don't want to annoy Poseidon. Anyway, between Poseidon's tricks along with other obstacles, our superhero had to face man-eating giants; the enchantress Circe; the Sirens (bird-like creatures with feminine faces and delightful singing voices which could tempt any man); some 'wandering rocks'; a number of sea monsters (Scylla & Charybdis); but because a 'reward' finally wound up inside the arms of Calypso for seven years. Then he got that seven-year-itch and continued on his way back where you can still more obstacles and adventures.
Perseus lopped over head of Medusa, old snake-hair herself and chief of the dreaded Gorgons. Perseus also did the time-honoured hero-thing and saved a damsel in distress - Andromeda, chained naked into a rock, an offering and treats to get a hungry sea monster. The weapon of preference - Medusa's head, since whoever or whatever checked out Medusa, even though that head what food was in a very condition of extreme rigor mortis, got converted into a much greater state of rigor mortis - pure stone. That applied to sea monsters too. As soon as the fight it absolutely was love to start with sight - some heroes have all the luck even though some trials and tribulations remained ahead for Perseus.
Saint George had a run-in which has a dragon - St. George 1; dragon 0. Now I gather you may not obtain the honorary word "Saint" mounted on your business if your granting powers-that-be thought that you are imaginary.
Sigurd is the legendary hero of Norse mythology. The german language he's cited as Siegfried (known mainly today through Wagner operas "Siegfried" and "Gotterdammerung"). In any case, among a great many other and heroic adventures, a bit of dragon slaying was an order for the day.
Theseus slew the Minotaur in Crete, much on the relief of possible future human sacrifices.
Monsters aside, if you tone down many of the more probably embellished bits, there are no longer anything really improbable about these superhero tales. Obviously some tales need to be taken using more than just a a dose of skepticism - perhaps a full salt-shaker worth - such as the Biblical Samson since there isn't any way now you may connect hair length with physical strength, so Samson, for example, is pure fiction.
Unfortunately these ancient exploits and heroics aren't usually kind of issues that have a tendency to leave behind firsthand hardcore archaeological evidence. There's obviously a lot of second-hand archaeological evidence - images and carvings - which is a start. I need to base their bona-fides or reality on 1) the countless authors of such epics that never hinted that they are far from the reality, the complete truth and zip nevertheless the truth; 2) the regular people of people eras accepted those heroic events just as real history in much the identical way even as we absorb and accept unfolding events we get from your press or radio/TV news bulletins; and 3) the ancients often went along to some quite considerable trouble to honour and preserve these stories and characters via private and public images, as official emblems, on coinage, pottery galore, jewellery/amulets, on armour/shields, via statutes, dedicated temples, and even naming entire cities specialized in their memory.
It's incredible that these ancient mythical characters and events - if mythical they're - remain here millenia later. That's real sexual stamina. I ponder whether 3000 years from today anyone will remember or have access to the tales of Wonder Woman, Paladin, or Miss Marple.
While there certainly were some imaginary heroes (though not either designed with superpowers or who made heroics their profession) in relatively medieval times from "Jack as well as the Beanstalk" to "Hansel & Gretel", for some really weird reason, lose your pounds . be described as a relative lack of superheroes involving the times we accompany ancient past and repeat the early Last century when A virtual detective, Tarzan, John Carter of Mars (or Barsoom on the Martians), Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers appeared. Even so no superpowers were involved. It wasn't until Superman came into existence inside the 1930's how the true age of present day superhero, accent on superpowers, had arrived.
Where are all the present real larger-than-life superheroes - the sort who seemingly make super-heroism an everyday profession? Certainly within the last several centuries there has been numerous heroes (and naturally heroines) - Medal of Honor and Victoria Cross winners, those doing work in various emergency services, along with ordinary citizens who rise to extraordinary heroics every time a special and in most cases one-off pair of circumstances arise. But where are our professional dragon slayers? Okay, no current dragons therefore no employed dragon slayers. That aside, there clearly shall no longer be those superheroes around equivalent to those that were very well known and beloved by the ancient Greeks and also other citizens of related ancient cultures. Wrong!