How Child Abuse Affects A Hero, A God, And A Monster In Greek Mythology

1152 words - 5 pages

Abuse has always been a problem throughout the history of the world. Abuse is suffered in various forms such as physical, emotional, and verbal. But all abuse is very harmful, especially when it is experienced by a child. There are many stories in Greek mythology that show various types of abuse but most prevalent are the acts that target children. Three figures in Greek mythology that face child abuse are Heracles, Hephaestus, and the Minotaur.
The first figure is the hero Heracles. He is one of the most known figures that faces abuse throughout his childhood and into adulthood. Heracles’ prime abuser was his stepmother, Hera. Hera shows the classic signs of blaming children for the mistakes of their parents and for the situation they were born into. Hamilton states that Hera is so jealous of her husband Zeus’ philandering ways that she often directs her anger not only on the mistresses but also the innocent children of the unions (27). Even before Heracles was a teenager, Hera made several attempts on his life. One of the first instances say that “Hera sent two serpents to the cradle of the infant Heracles to kill him” (Daly “Heracles” Par. 5). Hera’s jealous and vindictive behavior not only shows that she does not only wants Heracles dead, she wants him to suffer. According to Low, when he finally settles down to marry and have children, Hera causes Heracles to go into a fit of rage and kill his wife and three sons (94). Afterward, Heracles felt the guilt of killing his family. To cleanse himself of this sin, he goes to the oracle who tells him to go to his cousin Eurystheus. Hera includes Heracles’ own family member in his abuse by making Eurystheus assign him the Ten Labors in an attempt to get Heracles killed. Finally when he feels free of sin after completing the task, Hera has his own wife poison him.
The second Greek figure is the god of smiths, Hephaestus. To start, most stories that talk about his birth say he was born unsightly. Nobody celebrates his birth. Hera is so embarrassed of her grotesque son that “Before anyone can stop her, she picked up her son and hurled him off Olympus, straight into the sea” (Martin 88). That fall has said to have made him lame. According to Martin “Hera never knew her lame son’s fate…she never gave him a second thought” (89). As time passes and Hephaestus matures in the sea with Thetis, he was found to be skilled at making jewelry. When Hera hears of the skilled craftsman, she “divined that it was her own son and demanded him back” (Evslin 50). She only wants her son back because he became useful, she does not care for him. When Hephaestus returns to his new home on Olympus, Hera gives him a decrepit mountain as a place to work and live. She does not give him a home like the other gods have and has him making her fine things with Cyclopes around the clock. Hephaestus agrees to go back only because “…he loved her and excused her cruelty to him” (Evslin 50). Sacks writes that Hephaestus once “took his...

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