Greek mythology is overwhelmed with figures that had heroic powers but were also susceptible to human flaws. Many of them were notable for their capacity to battle entire armies, slay sinister monsters and love beautiful women. Here are 15 mightiest heroes in Greek mythology:
1. Achilles’ Only Weakness Was An “Achilles Heel”
The Trojan War that was waged for the city of Troy is also known for its participants from both sides. Achilles was the strongest and bravest warrior of the Greek army. When he was a child, his mother took him to the nearby spring and dipped him into the River Styx. Legend has it this made him invincible and invulnerable to damage everywhere except for the heel by which his mother held him. He was fighting Trojans for ten years until he was fatally wounded in the heel by Paris, son of the Trojan King.
2. Hercules Was The Son Of Zeus
Hercules is perhaps the most admired of all Greek heroes for his peak physical condition and courage. Despite his great deeds, he was cursed by Hera, which drove him insane and made him kill his wife and children. To make up for his wrongdoings, he had to complete the “Twelve Labours”, a series of episodes concerning a penance. The series were often included in epic poems, dramas and art. Hercules is often portrayed as a muscular man wearing a lion skin and wielding a club.
3. Jason Was The Leader Of The Argonauts
Jason led the Argonauts in pursuit of the Golden Fleece. Jason and his 50 fellowmen had to bring home the Golden Fleece so Jason could reclaim the kingdom that his uncle, Pelias, had stolen from him. On their journey, Jason and the Argonauts encountered such grave dangers as the deadly singing Sirens. Eventually, they captured the fleece thanks to the help of the sorceress Medea, who ultimately became Jason’s wife.
4. Odysseus Has His Own Adventures Told in Homer’s Epic Poem Called The Odyssey
Odysseus was the King of Ithaca who helped the Greeks win the Trojan War. After his warrior calling, he went to wander distant lands for nearly ten years, only to return home to Ithaca and his wife Penelope. During his long-lasting journeys, his bravery and prudence saved him and his men from monsters such as the Sirens, the Cyclops Polyphemus, and Scylla and Charybdis. When he came back to Ithaca, he had to prove his identity to Penelope in order to rule his homeland once again.
5. Perseus Slew The Gorgon Medusa
Perseus, son of Zeus and Danae, was exceptionally witty and a talented warrior. Because of his quick thinking, he managed to complete different dangerous tasks such as slaying the Gorgon Medusa. Medusa had the ability to turn anyone to stone who looked her right in the eyes. Perseus, however, came up with an idea to kill her while watching her reflection in a mirror. He then seized her head and kept it in his satchel. To save princess Andromeda from a sea monster, Perseus took the Medusa’s head out of his satchel and turned the creature into stone.
6. Theseus Slew The Minotaur
Similar to other heroes, Theseus is also celebrated for his triumph over many monsters, particularly the Minotaur, which resided in a labyrinth on the island of Crete. To keep the peace, the people of Athens had been forced to send fourteen young people for the Minotaur to eat alive. Fortunately, Theseus found his way in and out of the labyrinth with the help of princess Ariadne and killed the beast. He was the son of either Poseidon, the sea god, or Aegeus, king of Athens. He then became the King of Athens and a well-known warrior.
7. Hector Fought Achilles In The Trojan War
Hector was the son of Priam, the King of Troy. He was the commander of the Trojan army during the siege of Troy. Despite the Trojans’ failure to defend the city, Hector has been venerated for his nobility and courage. According to Homer’s Iliad, the outcome of the Trojan War was mostly in the hands of the Gods. Moreover, the story tells that Hector had to fight Achilles, the most celebrated warrior of the Greeks. Hector first fled but then overcame his fear and returned to fight. As the duel progressed, Hector realized that the Gods’ will was in favor of Achilles. Nevertheless, knowing he was about to die, he kept fighting valiantly.
8. Prometheus Stole Fire From Zeus
Even though he was the Titan himself, Prometheus was able to foresee the defeat of the Titans by the Olympian Gods. To avert certain defeat of his, he allied himself with Zeus. In spite of his alliance, he managed to anger Zeus by stealing fire and bringing it to mankind. To punish Prometheus, Zeus gave Pandora to man, thus condemning Prometheus by chaining him to a rock in the Caucasus Mountains, where an eagle was eating his liver daily. It was Hercules that eventually freed Prometheus.
9. Aeneas Survived The Trojan War
Aeneas plays an important role in both Greek and Roman mythology because he was the hero of Virgil’s Aeneid and also the founder of the city of Rome. Though he fought on the side of the Trojans, he was one of the very few men who did not die at the hands of the Greeks. Some say it was such case because the Gods such as Aphrodite, Apollo and Poseidon favored him. When the war was over, he fled to Italy, where his descendants built Rome.
10. Orpheus Was A Music Master
Orpheus, son of Calliope and Apollo, was an outstanding musician and his music skills could charm monsters and even make rivers stand still. He went down to the underworld in search of his wife, Eurydice, after she had died. There, he was able to soften the heart of Hades with his music. Orpheus was permitted to revive Eurydice on one condition: while leaving the underworld, Orpheus should walk in front of his wife and not look back at her. But the temptation was too overwhelming for him. Orpheus looked back and Eurydice vanished forevermore.
11. Bellerophon Slew The Fire-Breathing Chimera
Bellerophon, son of Poseidon, captured the winged horse Pegasus as the horse came to drink from the town’s fountain. Bellerophon was often despised and tortured by many, especially Queen Stheneboia, who demanded that he be put to death. Instead, he was sent to slay the fire-breathing Chimera which was ravaging the land. After he had accomplished the task, he was sent to subdue the barbarous tribes of Solymoi and Amazones, coming off victorious once again. Despite his constant successful endeavors, Bellerophon was not content and sought to fly to heaven on the back of Pegasus. Zeus was angered by the Bellerophon’s attitude, due to which he sent a gadfly to sting the horse, causing it to buck and cast the hero back to earth. Bellerophon, obviously disappointed and feeling miserable, wandered the world alone despised by gods and men.
12. Pandora Was The First Woman Formed Out Of Clay By The Gods
Pandora was the first woman created by Hephaistos and other gods. When the Titan Prometheus took fire from heaven by force, Zeus was enraged, so he commanded the Gods to create Pandora, who would eventually court Epimetheus, the frivolous brother of Prometheus. When Pandora entered their house, she opened the storage jar that contained the myriad evil spirits trapped within.
13. Psyche Was Astoundingly Beautiful
Psyche, wife of Eros, was the goddess of the soul, whose astounding beauty angered Aphrodite when men turned their worship from goddess to girl. In order to make things right, Aphrodite ordered Eros make Psyche fall in love with the cruelest of men. Instead, the god himself fell in love with her. Eventually, Psyche was tricked by her jealous sisters, and Eros abandoned her. In her despair, she wandered the world for her lost love and eventually came to serve Aphrodite.
14. Phaethon Drove The Chariot Of The Sun
Phaethon, son of Helios and Klymene, begged his father to hand him the reigns of the chariot. Though reluctant, Helios let him be in charge of the chariot, but the inexperienced Phaethon quickly lost control, setting the earth aflame and scorching the plains of Africa to desert. Zeus struck Phaethon with a thunderbolt to put a stop to the destruction of the earth.
15. Pasiphae Was Immortal
Pasiphae, daughter of Helios, had the powers of witchcraft. She was married to King Minos of Crete. However, she was cursed to couple with the king’s finest bull. Out of this coupling was conceived a hybrid child, the bull-headed Minotauros. It turned out that her husband Minos was also unfaithful. When she found out about his indiscretions, she put a spell on him. Eventually, he was cured by the Athenian girl Prokris.