Hercules is regarded to be the well-known figure in Greek mythology, a divine hero who is famous for his strength and numerous adventures within the world of all mortals. He has been used in various forms of art, literature, and media as a vivid allusion of a hero, although he has been differently interpreted by particular authors in order to reach a concrete connection between the hero and the audience. Thus, Hercules, the Roman variant of Greek Heracles, has appeared in the sphere of media as artwork to movies, television shows, and even video games. Surely, everyone is familiar with Disney's rendition of classical stories thus developing awareness of world literature and creating a fresh piece of art.
According to Greek mythology, Hercules was the illegitimate son of the Gods King Zeus and a mortal woman Alcmene, the wife of Amphitryon. He was a representative of superhuman muscle though, unfortunately, not intelligent strength who after his death deserved to become a god on the Mount Olympus. Zeus wife Hera was jealous of Hercules and wanted to kill him having sent two snakes into his cradle. The baby survived having strangled those serpents. In the elder age, Hercules was driven mad by Hera and killed being frenzy his first wife Megara and their children. Afterwards he began to pray to the sun god Apollo to repent of his crime. Hercules was supposed to perform first ten, later twelve important labors as the way of purifying his soul. Thus, Hercules accepted the deal in order to find out that every labor was impossible to conduct. Here the idea of Herculean task arouses, when a job seems too large, overwhelming, or unattainable, it is often referred to as a Herculean task (Peterson Dunworth 77).
Disney's Hercules is based on the original drawings of Gerald Scarfe, the British artist. The plot partially coincides with the classical Greek myth about half-god, half-mortal hero Heracles. Surely, Disney's rendition embraces quite divergent interpretation of the myth, as far as this allusion has a form of a cartoon and the major audience presupposes to include children. The classical myth itself has a lot of violent scenes which are mainly out of place in moral upbringing from the perspective of American culture. The differences are viewed even in the movie use of Greek name, e.g. Hercules is a Roman name for Greek mythological character Heracles. Though, it is not the major and the most evident variation from the original. Besides, historically it has not been exactly stated whether it is right to use Roman or Greek variants of goddesses and gods names.
The most striking inconsistency in the animated movie Hercules from its original source is that Disney changed the fact that the main hero was born to Zeus and a mortal woman. In this version, both parents of superhero are of divine nature. Thus, Hercules mother is Hera, the furious enemy of Heracles in the myth. The Disney's standpoint is fairly understandable. Heracles was a result of Zeus unfaithful relationship with a female human being Alcmene. Taking into account the main audience, this omission seems to be evident. Besides, Disney also changed from the original that episode which described two snakes being sent by Hera to kill the baby into having the snakes being sent by Zeus brother, evil God of the Underworld Hades.
The prototype of Hades is portrayed in quite a different way that it is perceived while reading the original myth. Therefore, Hades is sooner an allusion to Satan than to the God of the Underworld. According to Greek Mythology, Hades was not the Devil; he ruled over the Underworld and was a respected God and a devoted husband to Persephone. Moreover, from Disney's perspective, Hercules is viewed going to the underworld to safe and bring to the world of all mortal back Megara's soul, which has never happened in the myth where Hercules descends into the underworld to capture and afterwards bring back Cerberus, the three-headed guardian dog of Hades, as the twelfth labor (Peterson Dunworth 80). Disney's Meg happened to be in the underworld because of having sold her soul to Hades, which is fairly questionable whether Greek mythology presupposes Hades buying souls. By this Hades portraying as being the Devil and not the Greek God of the Underworld is proved. In addition, Heracles from the classical myth killed Megara and their mutual biological children being insane.
Hercules as American animated movie ends with his devoted love to Megara and willingness to stay with her as a mortal on the Earth. Nevertheless, Greek Hercules burns himself on fire because of his second mortal wife having betrayed on him, earns immortality among gods on the Olympus, and marries Hera's daughter Hebe. According to cartoon, Hercules becomes immortal while risking for Megara's soul sake in the underworld. Remarrying is another reason for Disney's decision to omit this type of information, as far as Hercules is considered to be a good story for children.
Actually, Disney's version is confusing to perceive to some extent, as long as the reason to become a real hero seems not to clarify the necessity to face crucial difficulties and to overcome them. In the classical myth, Hercules is supposed to repent of his sin conducting twelve difficult tasks that is not mentioned in the movie. However, some of his adventures are precisely described, among them the Second Labor: Hercules slays the nine-headed Lernaean Hydra. The Nemian Lion is shown dead, killed by Hercules, although in a shifted time span. Thus the Labors of Hercules are described non-chronologically.
The audience is introduced to Disney story by five singing muses who serve as a gospel chorus in order to explain which events are happening in the life of Hercules. Greek mythology gives another number of muses that is nine and cannot be ignored because of its metaphorical meaning. In Disney's interpretation Hercules's foster parents Alcmene and Amphytrion took in a baby whom they had found abandoned on the road. This fact partially coincides with the original, while these people indeed parented Hercules. Besides, Hercules is accompanied with animated hero Pegasus, the present of his divine parents, which has never happened in Greek mythology. A new character is introduced into Disney's Hercules, a wise friend and mentor named Philoctetes who exists in the myth, though he is not mentioned until the end of Hercules mortal life. He is considered to be that friend who helped the hero to set a fire for his funeral.
In the original myth, Heracles and the gods dealt with Titans whom Zeus had imprisoned in a pit of the underworld called Tartarus. Titans were an earlier race of cruel gods that Zeus defeated and enslaved (Peterson Dunworth 80). There were even bigger creatures, the Giants. According to the myth, Heracles used his arrows dipped in the hydra's blood to struggle against them. Both the Disney's rendition and Greek mythology have Heracles involved in a prophecy of having saved the Olympus, although in a fairly different way.
Despite the differences between the movie and Greek mythology, all reproductions have gained much attraction from a general public and become extremely popularized. It is not strange because in an age when mayhem is the staple of public entertainments sports, movies and reality shows Heracles does not look out of place (Riley 263). Besides, the current audience is prone to be influenced by media approach, especially by movies or other visual representatives of necessary information. For instance, the prototype of Heracles might be perceived easier from the animated movie, although one has to realize the differences between the original and an allusion.
Many modern works are based on Greek myths: movies, another myths, and even music have been the subject to the undiscovered secrets of ancient Greeks. An allusion to the Greek Heracles is popular because of its strength and adventurous nature. This myth has been reproduced for countless times. Kevin Sorbo, Lou Ferrigno, Steve Reeves, and Tate Donovan are among those who have portrayed the hero (Peterson Dunworth 77). As soon as Hercules represents a strong human being, though a half-divine, he proves that human resources are boundless and it is possible to implement impossible things into reality. The myth of Hercules has a violent, vivid, and emotional value that produces an intimate connection between the hero and his audience (Peterson Dunworth 77).
Disney has portrayed the classical myth as accurately as it was possible taking into consideration the culture and the mentality of modern audience. The myth seems to be outdated to some extent, thus bloody and horrible killing might not be acceptable in today's world. However, both the movie and the myth capture the major message that Hercules embraces. Disney has simplified the original in order to avoid misunderstandings, while still remained the essence of the myth. The main idea is to show the person's traits that are still being evaluated and, surely, to develop general background knowledge of classical mythology.