Characters: Classical Mythology Mortals And Demigods
Rustic fertility spirits, companions of Dionysus/Pan, originally quite different from the goat-like fauns (Or Panes), they were depicted as short, hairy men with assinine ears, snub-noses, horse-like ears and erect members.
Beautiful female nature spirits, considered desirable maids by mortals and gods alike. Frequently appearing in the company of gods as loyal followers as well. There were many subgroupings of nymphs, but the most famous were the Hesperides (who tend the garden with the golden apples), Dryades
(tree spirits), Naiads, Nereids, Oceanids
(different kinds of water nymphs), Maenids (or Bacchai/Bacchantes, the one who hang out with Bacchus/Dionysus so they can party all the time), and the Muses.
Son of Zeus and mortal Queen Alcmene and the most famous classical hero, known as Hercules
in Latin. His name means glory of Hera
(explanations for this name are varied), but she hated him and tried her best to kill him since his infancy. His real name is Aclides (Aclaeus) but after seeing the priestess at Delphi, he changed his name. Most famous for his Twelve Labors (essentially one Fetch Quest
after another), turning up in other people's stories
whenever a strongman is needed, and eventually became a full god upon his death.
- Accidental Pornomancer: Hercules got a lot of action thrown his way. In particular, there was the matter of the fifty princesses in one night...
- All Amazons Want Hercules: Trope Namer. Queen Hippolyta was so impressed by his muscular frame that she gave up her belt freely.
- Anti-Hero: By modern standards, he wasn't exactly a paragon of heroic virtue. He killed more than one innocent person simply for being too close when his temper got the better of him. That said, he went to great lengths to help his friends, and by killing monsters like the Hydra and the Nemean Lion and murderous humans like the ghoulish Cycnus he did mankind a world of good.
- Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence: After his death, it's said he became a full god himself.
- The Atoner: His twelve labors were to atone for killing his family in a Hera-induced rage.
- Badass: Which is arguably why he´s so popular in the modern world.
- Big Eater: According to Euripides in his play "Alcestis", Herakles ate so much to terrify Admetus' servants.
- The Big Guy
- Bi the Way: This being Greek Mythology, hardly surprising.
- Boisterous Bruiser
- Book Dumb: He wasn't as clever as the likes of Nestor or Odysseus, but Heracles had a remarkable talent for thinking on his feet in situations when his strength alone wouldn't cut it. Examples include his defeating Antaeus, tricking Atlas to take back possession of the sky and his escaping from a sacrificial altar by using the claws of his lion cloak to cut through the bindings. Not for nothing did Athena like Heracles more than any other Olympian except Zeus. The guy wasn't terribly bright, but he was a natural battle strategist.
- Combat Pragmatist: He saved the horrifically poisonous blood of the Lernean Hydra and used it to poison his arrows in order to kill several other opponents.
- Clothes Make the Superman: Heracles is already a tough guy, but the impenetrable Nemean Lion's pelt cloak made him almost invulnerable. He even dons the aegis of Zeus himself when he's in a pinch against Alebion, his brother Bergion and their army; with Zeus's aegis, he manages to come out on top.
- Death Glare: The reason Charon give him free ride for the twelfth labor.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: So many, but beating up Thanatos (the Greek god of Death) is just one example. He takes it even further when he decides to sack Pylos. Hercules takes on Hera, Ares, Hades and Poseidon with only Athena to aid him. He spears Ares in the thigh, wounds Hera in her right breast and shoots Hades in the shoulder with his arrows. If that wasn't overkill, he shoots Apollo in the shoulder just for trying to heal Ares.
- The Hero
- Hot-Blooded: And holy SHIT, how. This guy would go stage a HUGE war for a mere verbal insult one day, and at the other he'd fight Thanatos to bring an old friend's dead wife back to life.
- The Juggernaut: If you weren't Zeus or Apollo, you might as well just pack it in if Herc wanted a piece of you. Notably, he conquered Troy with 12 men at his side. A generation later, it would basically take all of Greece throwing their badasses at Troy to take it down — and it still took ten years to do it.
- The Lancer: To Jason on the Argo.
- Meaningful Name: According to some authors, the name came from the glory he gained overcoming all the obstacles Hera threw his way.
- Nonindicative Name: In other versions, his name was an attempt to appease Hera but really didn't work at all to that end.
- Our Founder: The Spartans claimed descent from him.
- It wasn't just the Spartans. Most Greek Kings claimed descent from him to justify their right to rule. Even Alexander the Great claimed descent from Heracles through his father, and descent from Achilles through his mother.
- Parental Favouritism: Zeus liked to brag about Hercules to the extent that it intesified Hera's hatred of Hercules.
- Rated M for Manly: The reason the Greeks admired Heracles more than any other hero was because he best represented the traits they admired, such as sexual prowess, athletic skill and success in war.
- Really Gets Around: Like father, like son. His "thirteenth" labour involved sleeping with 50 daughters in a single night. Every single one of them was knocked up.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Laomedon and Augeas both tried to cheat him, while Neleus refused to purify him. Heracles responded with this trope in spades.
- Shoot the Medic First: Inverted, as he only shoots Apollo after he starts healing Ares, whom Hercules had previously speared in the thigh.
- Super Strength: He's stronger than most gods, let alone mere mortals, but you probably already knew that. It's even in the dictionary after all.
- Too Dumb to Live: This doesn't apply to Heracles himself, but rather to anyone who deliberately crossed him. King Augeas and King Laomedon both broke the agreements they made with him, while King Neleus refused to purify him after he'd killed his friend Iphitus in a moment of temper. Heracles exacted a rather bloody revenge on them for screwing him over.
- Trope Namer: It is from Heracles that the word "hero" was derived from.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Some interpretations of his character.
- When All You Have Is a Hammer: One of his Twelve Labors is to capture Ceryneian Hind, a sacred deer of Artemis, so fast that it can outrun an arrow. In one version, he simply chased after it, and while he isn't fast enough to catch it, it's enough that the deer doesn't have a chance to rest either. After whole year of running, the deer gave up.
- Wholesome Crossdresser: Omphale, Queen of Lydia, forced him to dress in woman's clothing and do women's work. To add insult to injury, she wore his Nemean Lion skin during this. It turn out to be beneficial for Heracles though - a couple of peaceful years of crossdressing and housework made him much more calm.
- World's Strongest Man: Well, duh.
Perseus was the Greek hero who killed the Gorgon Medusa in order to fulfill the evil king Polydectes's demands and save his mother from the guy. Along the way he married Andromeda, having rescued her from a sea monster sent by Poseidon in retribution for Andromeda's Queen Cassiopeia declaring herself more beautiful than the sea nymphs.
- Absurdly Sharp Blade: What Perseus uses to kill Medusa.
- Berserk Button: Do not try anything with his mother, just… don’t.
- Big Damn Heroes: He pulls this twice. The first time is the saving of his future wife and lover, Andromeda, from the keto (sea monster) to which she was to be sacrificed. The second one was to his beloved mother, as he manages to arrive just in time to stop her marriage to King Polydectes and in fury he uses Medusa’s head on him.
- Calling the Old Man Out: Some myths have him doing this to Andromeda’s parents for their actions, especially her mother. But in other interpretations, Acrisios's death was an accident.
- The Chosen One: The Gods themselves chose him to slay Medusa, and the prophets set him on that path by seeing another aspect of his future and telling what they saw.
- Guile Hero: Sometime seen as this, as he overcame the two biggest challenges in his trip to kill Medusa; his introduction to the Graeae and the killing of Medusa herself, with quick thinking and rather ingenious planning. Could also be considered to be a Genius Bruiser.
- In one account Athena guided his hand to slay Medusa.
- Happily Adopted: After she got pregnant, Perseus's mother Danae was set adrift at sea in a large chest. When she washed up on shore, she was found by the kindly fisherman Dictys, who brought her into his home and effectively served as an adoptive father to Perseus. Perseus later paid him back by giving him Polydectes's throne after the bastard was turned to stone, and had him marry Danae.
- Happily Married: Perseus and Andromeda have this, one of the incredibly few and most memorable in Greek Mythology.
- Heroic Bastard: One of the many, many, many offspring of Zeus.
- Impossible Task: King Polydectes sending Perseus to bring him the head of Medusa.
- It Was a Gift: The other interpretation being that rather than his wits, it was the gifts various gods gave him that made it possible for him to kill Medusa. Maybe it was a combination of the two.
- Luckily My Shield Will Protect Me: Perseus using his shield as a mirror in order to kill Medusa without having to look at her is a classic example from Greek mythology.
- Momma's Boy: An incredibly Badass version of one.
- Nice Guy: By far one of the most heroic characters in Greek Mythology by modern standards, he is a fiercely devoted and protective son, a loving and completely faithful husband to Andromeda, and a fair and just ruler of Mycenae.
- Our Founder: The first demigod hero and the mythical founder of Mycenae, kicking off the Mycenaen age of Ancient Greece.
- Rescue Romance: With Andromeda.
- Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: His killing of Acrisios.
- Supernatural Aid: The Gods them selves are on his side, especially Athena. Though they can't help him directly.
- Taken for Granite: With Medusa’s head, he does this to both the sea monster (saving Andromeda) and Polydectes (saving his mother).
Greek mythology's most famous heroine, and the only female member of the hero teamup known as the Argonauts, Atalanta was a mortal princess exposed at birth because her father wanted a boy. Was found and suckled by a she-bear before she was discovered and raised by hunters. Grew up to be very beautiful and very fast. Eventually she was reunited with her father, who insisted that she get married. She wasn't too keen on this, so she promised to marry the man who could beat her in a foot race, but the losers would be executed. When Hippomenes (or Melanion) defeated her she married and made love with him in Zeus or Aphrodite's temple. Zeus (or Aphrodite) was so enraged by the desecration that he turned them both into lions.
- Action Girl
- Badass Normal: One of Greek Mythology's "A-Lister" heroes, but like Odysseus, she was completely mortal with no divine parents.
- Baleful Polymorph: She and her husband, were turned into lions for having sex in Zeus's temple. The Ancient Greeks believed that lions could only mate with leopards, not other lions.
- Battle Couple: Her relationship with Meleager. Some sources even claim they consumated their relationship, resulting in a son named Parthenopeus.
- Cursed with Awesome: Sort of. She couldn't mate with Hippomenes again, but still...
- Hot Amazon: So hot that men came from all over ancient Greece to risk their lives for her hand. The one guy who finally got her couldn't even wait until he got home to consummate the marriage, leading to the embarrassing incident described above under Baleful Polymorph.
- Ms. Fanservice: Often depicted in artwork wearing quite revealing clothes, usually very short skirts, and bare breasts, but Turned Up to Eleven in one vase painting (available somewhere on the internet) that shows her wearing what basically amounts to a very revealing bikini.
- Panthera Awesome
- Parental Abandonment: Not only was she herself abandoned by her father, she later abandoned her own son Parthenopeus on Mount Parthenius in Arcadia, to conceal the fact that she was no longer a virgin.
- Super Speed
- Virgin Power: She swore an oath of virginity to Artemis, and became well-known as a virgin huntress. She didn't do a very good job keeping it, though, see Parental Abandonment above.
A powerful demi-goddess, sorceress, and princess of a distant kingdom, who ends up betraying her own father and brother for Jason. Jason proceeds to royally piss her off
: see the tragedy named after her for the results.
- Badass Princess
- Bullying a Dragon: Jason, you knew she was Axe Crazy and capable of killing immortals with just a look, why did you cheat on her?
- Depending on the version, the Corinthians could be this. In the original version they killed two of her children after Medea killed Jason's new girlfriend and accidentally burned down the royal palace as a side effect. Did they really expected she wouldn't kill half of them and let the survivors live in terror she'll return to finish the job?
- The Thebans too. They drove her out of town while she was Herakles' guest after she left Corinth. In a subversion, Medea and Herakles didn't destroy the city.
- Dark Action Girl
- Evil Chancellor: To Theseus' father. Her plan to kill Theseus was foiled but again she escaped.
- The Evil Princess
- Foreshadowing: As she escaped with Jason, she took her brother along and chopped him up and threw his body parts into the sea to slow down their pursuers. You'd think Jason would notice that there's something wrong with her at this point.
- Hot Witch
- Magical Eye: She can kill an unkillable bronze giant by looking at it in the eyes, either torturing him into killing himself or hypnotizing him into doing the deed. Either way, it just took her a look.
- Karma Houdini: Ascended to godhood after death.
- The Medic: She's good enough to raise the dead younger and healthier than when they died. Assuming you can actually convince her to do it...
- Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: Jason should have known what he was getting into; the woman killed and dismembered her own brother to slow down her father's pursuit.
- Tragic Villain
- The Unfettered
- Woman Scorned: The phrase comes from Euripides' play entitled, well, Medea, making her the Trope Namer.
- Yandere: Towards Jason.
An Aethiopian princess, who was Chained to a Rock
as a sacrifice for a sea monster, Cetus, sent by Poseidon when her mother boasted that her daughter was more beautiful than the Nereids. However, she was saved from Cetus by Perseus, who she married.
Son of Muse Calliope and learned musical skills from Apollo. Even the famous Sirens couldn't beat Orpheus when it come to singing. After his wife Eurydice died, Orpheus travelled to the underworld and got past all obstacles by his music, even softening the hearts of Hades and Persephone. Hades agreed to allow Eurydice to return with him to earth on one condition: he should walk in front of her and not look back until they both had reached the upper world. Orpheus failed, either because he was careless or just unable to trust Hades wholeheartedly. Heartbroken, Orpheus disdained the worship of all gods save for Apollo. One morning, he went to salute Apollo, but was rent to pieces by Maenads for not honoring Dionysus.
- Bi the Way
- Disproportionate Retribution: On the receiving end: The Maenads, Ax-Crazy followers of Dionysus, tore him apart for not singing happy songs.
- Fate Worse Than Death: Hades did warn him that Orpheus would never meet Eurydice again if he failed the trial. Some text say he wasn't dead even when vivisected, his head still singing mournful songs. That's until inhabitants of Lesbos Island buried his head and built a shrine in his honour.
- Heroic BSOD: Has one since Eurydice's death; he recovered for a while, but losing her for a second time put him over the Despair Event Horizon.
- Magic Music: His music and singing can charm birds, fish and wild beasts, coax the trees and rocks into dance, and even divert the course of rivers. His song even beat the song of Sirens; some texts even say the Sirens committed suicide afterward. Then he calmed down Cerberus, got Charon to let him ride for free, and made Hades shed Manly Tears.
- Non-Action Guy: He is not remembered for killing monsters or slaughtering warriors.
- Orphean Rescue: The Trope Namer.
King of Ithaca, husband of Penelope, father of Telemachus, and son of Laërtes and Anticlea, Odysseus is renowned for his guile and resourcefulness, and is hence known by the epithet Odysseus the Cunning (mētis, or "cunning intelligence"). He is most famous for the twenty eventful years he took to return home after the ten-year Trojan War and his famous Trojan Horse trick. The Romans called him Ulysses
- Abdicate the Throne: Odysseus leaves Thesprotia to Polypoites after the queen dies. Admittedly, he just goes right back to being king in Ithaca.
- Adaptational Villainy: Odysseus (Ulysses) is treated as a pure villain in Roman mythology, such as in The Aeneid, and later works influenced by it, like The Divine Comedy. Earlier than that, Euripides detested him for his apparent lack of ethics.
- The Alliance: It was his idea in order to stop a battle between the Kings Of Greece for the hand of Helen by creating this. It actually came to bite him in the ass later on. But he tried to escape even this.
- Authority Equals Asskicking
- Badass Normal: Considered a major Greek hero, alongside Heracles, Achilles, Perseus, Theseus...you get the idea. But unlike most other Greek heroes, Odysseus isn't a demigod.
- Bash Brothers: With Diomedes. It also has a Brains and Brawn dynamic, especially in the 10th book
- Badass Boast: Odysseus does this to Polyphemos the cyclops. This, however, bites him in the ass when Polyphemos, having learned Odysseus's name through his boasting, invokes a favor from his father Poseidon to make his journey home a living nightmare. Daddy delivers.
- Bluff The Imposter: Invoked when he returned home and revealed himself to his wife. She doesn't quite believe him, and makes an offhand remark that their bed was moved. Odysseus states that his bed's headboard is part of a massive tree (which he himself carved) that the palace is built around, and that it's virtually impossible to move. This removes any lingering doubt.
- Call to Agriculture: Odysseus' goal after going home.
- Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: A lot of people try to treat Odysseus' non-consensual relationships with Circe and Calypso as though they were affairs.
- Eye Scream: Eat Odysseus' sailors and reap the consequences!
- Genius Bruiser
- Guile Hero: His most dangerous weapon by far was his tremendously sharp mind.
- Happily Married: In The Odyssey, where all he wants to do is get home to his wife. Yes, there are stories where he cheats on her and/or she cheats on him, but they're not by Homer, which makes them the ancient Greek equivalent of fanfiction; in the real canon he is faithful to Penelope and she to him.
- Homoerotic Subtext: With Eurymachus.
- The Infiltration: Odysseus's recon of Troy
- Insane Troll Logic: Scylla and Charybdis. One will eat some of his men, the other will eat all his men.
- King Incognito: Before taking his final revenge on the suitors.
- Papa Wolf
- Pride: He probably would have got home a lot smoother and faster if he just didn't have to tell his real name to Polyphemos to boast about it, letting Polyphemos pray to his father Poseidon to make the journey back... difficult.
- Rightful King Returns: He successfully got home and regained his throne.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Odysseus slaughters every suitor and twelve maids in his home once he returns.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: He is king and warrior.
- Schmuck Bait: He thinks and plans the greatest one in recorded legend, the Trojan Horse.
- The Smart Guy
- Supernatural Aid: Athena took a shine to him during the Trojan War and continued to help him on his journey home.
- The Trickster: Which makes sense when you remember that he is the grandson of Autolycus, the world's greatest thief, which makes Hermes, the Trickster Archetype himself, his great-grandfather. He may also be the son of Sisyphus, the god-swindling SOB who seduced his mother on her wedding night, so no matter how you look at it, guile is In the Blood.
- Unreliable Narrator: Odysseus is hinted to be one of these, talking about stuff that he couldn't possibly know.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: Odysseus could have become immortal living with eternally youthful Circe or Calypso, but chose to return to Ithaca and his aging wife. Ironically, in a common continuation of the myth, his two sons and his widow do become immortal.
- Worthy Opponent: Even the Trojans were in awe of this man. He was considered one of the mightiest and most respectable Achaians during the war.
- You Can't Fight Fate: Odysseus was fated to die a death from the sea...Telegonus sails in and unknowingly kills him with a sting ray spear in one non-Homeric continuation
- Adaptational Villainy: The man was no saint, but he was no more “evil” than the rest of the Greek or Trojan warriors during the war. The film Troy has him as an example of Ambition Is Evil
- Asshole Victim: At the hands of Clytemnestra. Or at least modern standards. In this particular case is rather hard and difficult to pinpoint which of them really is the bigger asshole. They both had their countless moments, and even the main driving reason for Clytemnestra’s killing of him, the sacrifice of Iphigenia, rings rather hollow when one takes into consideration she was more than willing to kill Electra and Orestes
- Asskicking Equals Authority: If Achilles is so badass, why is Agamemnon in charge? He has the most ships, by ten.
- Authority Equals Asskicking
- The Berserker: To the surprise of anyone familiar with the various adaptations. Seriously, read his rampage in Book 11. It screams Unstoppable Rage.
- Big Brother Instinct: Agamemnon in the original Classical Mythology has this in spades. Paris fucked with Menelaus, Agamemnon would make Troy burn
- Big Good: Agamemnon is a subversion. He's the leader of the Greeks and the one who began the campaign, but not even he can resist the temptation to Kick the Dog.
- Big Screwed-Up Family
- Blasphemous Boast: Agamemnon's claim after killing a deer. Artemis was not happy
- Break the Haughty
- Fatal Flaw: Agamemnon's is his pride. His refusal to initially realize that his treatment of Achilles is unfair leads to his army's near defeat, although this consequence pales in comparison to Achilles' and Hector's. He does later realize the foolishness of this action, but never admits any blame or apologizes
- Genius Bruiser: Nowhere near Odysseus' level, but being a Genius Bruiser was the norm for any king at the time. His ghost actually gives Odysseus some rather sage advice about being prepared for anything when arriving ones own home
- Good Parents: Tragically, it’s strongly implied by Electra’s memories of him that he was this before everything when to hell
- The High King
- Rightful King Returns: It goes much less pleasant that some of his other brethren
- Royals Who Actually Do Something
- Secret Test of Character: Early on, in preparation for an attack, Agamemnon tests the Greeks' fighting spirit by saying, in short, "We'll never take Troy; let's pack up and go home." The leaders then have to stop their troops from following through
- Shipper on Deck: Agamemnon becomes exponentially funnier if you view him as a Helen/Menelaus shipper. It's not even inaccurate.
- Tragic Hero
- Virgin Sacrifice: Agamemnon had to kill one of his daughters, Iphigenia, for a favorable wind in order to go to war
- Authority Equals Asskicking
- Axe Crazy: Driven to this after his Blasphemous Boast
- Badass: One of the biggest in the Trojan War
- Bash Brothers: Ajax and his illegitimate brother Teucer. Typically the latter will hide behind Ajax's shield and fire over it, providing long-range support, while Ajax handles the close up stuff. It's rather heartwarming when you realize that despite Teucer's bastard status, the two of them are very close
- The Big Guy: He's the biggest soldier among the Greek forces, and doubles as a Mighty Glacier or a Stone Wall during defensive battles. Outside battle he’s a pretty decent guy
- Blasphemous Boast: Ajax rejects the gods' help and boasts that he will be the best fighter on his own merit. He pretty much does.
- Boisterous Bruiser
- Break the Haughty: Athena, helped along by Ajax himself, does a stellar job of this
- Brains and Brawn: The Brawn to Teucer’s Brain
- Determinator: Ajax is a man who is determined to follow his will, no matter what, without the help of the gods
- Dissonant Laughter: Though his protracted torture of sheep is upsetting enough for his friends and family, the sheer glee Ajax derives in doing it just makes it worse
- Driven to Suicide: Once his madness is lifted
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: Coming from a culture where self-worth is relative to publicly received respect, Ajax's anger is slightly more understandable. Odysseus wins Achilles' armor through persuasion, but Ajax, now the greatest warrior on the Greek side, has reason to think he deserved it more.
- Due to the Dead: Odysseus, filled with fear and pity at how the gods can humble men, refuses to continue his grudge against Ajax and argues for his proper funeral rites.
- Genius Bruiser: The norm for any of the Greek Generals. Ajax actually was quite eloquent and verbose.
- Glory Seeker
- Heroic BSOD: Ajax is fairly subdued once he is relieved of his madness and discovers everyone knows what he's done. This is a prelude to suicide.
- Honor Before Reason: And this in part tragically turns out to be his own undoing.
- In the Blood: Achilles and Ajax were cousins, sons of the Bash Brothers Peleus and Telamon. Peleus and Telamon were mighty warriors in their own right, who became famous fighting alongside Heracles. Being a Badass tended to run in their family.
- Like Father, Like Son: Ajax's father was the warrior Telamon, a Badass in his own right who was a frequent ally of Heracles.
- Now You Tell Me: Played for Drama when Calchas arrives too late to warn against Ajax leaving his tent.
- One-Man Army: Diomedes may have defeated two gods in one day (Ares and Aphrodite), and Patroclus may routed an army until he lost his armor, but both were defeated by Apollo. Ajax, however, was never beaten in the Illiad, even by the gods. In fact, when Zeus forbids the gods from helping the Greeks (but not from opposing them), all the Greek heroes are driven from the field, one by one, except Ajax, who is wounded by several gods, but never stops fighting. How many times can you put "the combined efforts of several gods, while he had none to help him, failed to stop this guy" on someone's resume? He racks up a mook body count roughly equal to Achilles, he defeats Hector in a fair fight within the first five chapters (yeah, that's right, if not for the gods intervening - by making his own allies throw themselves in the way - to keep Ajax from finishing Hector then and there, Ajax would have cut the Illiad down from an epic poem to a short story), and when he actually does die in later It's by suicide. That's right, the only thing badass enough to defeat Ajax is... Ajax. Wow.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something
- Tragic Hero: Flawed through his pride and individualism which are also his best assets.
- Worthy Opponent: After his Combat by Champion against Hector, both warriors are so impressed with the other that they exchange tokens as symbols of respect and admiration.
- Achilles' Heel: Trope Namer.
- Achilles in His Tent: Once again, the Trope Namer.
- Anti-Hero: Bordering on Villain Protagonist. Achilles performs many acts of douchebaggery throughout the poem and is one of the biggest jerks in ancient literature. This makes for a good foil between him and Hector, who can be seen as much more heroic than his Greek opponent.
- Badass: One of the biggest ones in literature.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Achilles asks Zeus to help the Trojans punish the Greeks for Agamemnon's unfairness towards him, which ends in his friend Patroclus' death.
- Bi the Way: May or may not have had a homosexual relationship with Patroclus. Than again, he may or may not have been his cousin.
- Blood Knight: He's not fighting in the Trojan War for honor, or for gain. He's fighting because he likes it...and because he's very, very good at it.
- The Berserker: One of the most widely known in literature.
- Break the Haughty
- Byronic Hero
- Death Is Dramatic: Chasing the entire Trojan army into the city, taken down by Paris with the help of Apollo? Achilles is just that Badass.
- Divine Parentage
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: During his Roaring Rampage of Revenge he beats down the local river god... while crossing his river.
- Doomed by Canon
- Fatal Flaw: Both pride and wrath.
- Glory Hound
- Heroic BSOD: After Patroclus's death. His Roaring Rampage of Revenge happens shortly after he breaks out of it.
- I Love the Dead: An Unfortunate Implications from ambiguous text about how Achilles fell in love with an amazon queen Penthesilea after her death.
- Invincible Hero
- In the Blood: Achilles and Ajax were cousins, sons of the Bash Brothers Peleus and Telamon. Peleus and Telamon were mighty warriors in their own right, who became famous fighting alongside Heracles. Being a Badass tended to run in their family.
- It's All My Fault: His belief regarding Patroclus's death. He’s not wrong.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: His mutilation of Hector's corpse becomes this when you recall that Hector planned to do the same thing to Patroclus.
- Like Father, Like Son: Achilles' father was the warrior Peleus, a Badass in his own right who was a frequent ally of Heracles. His own son goes on to be a brutal killing machine.
- Manly Tears: The most famous example being between Achilles and King Priam when Priam begs Achilles to return the body of his son Hector for burial. Priam's passion moves Achilles who begins thinking about his lost friend Patroclus; and the two men weep together over the respective loss.
- Momma's Boy
- Narcissist: Has a great deal of trouble caring about anybody other than himself.
- Nietzsche Wannabe
- Not So Invincible After All: Turned out he had an Achilles' Heel! Of course at this point, Everybody Knows That.
- One-Man Army: His combat abilities are pretty much a Story Breaker Power, hence why Achilles in His Tent happened.
- Pet the Dog: Achilles is willing to fight the entire Greek army to defend Agamemnon's daughter, Iphigenia when the latter has to sacrifice her to appease Artemis. Agamemnon had duped her into coming by promising her marriage to Achilles offending his honor, making him feel somewhat responsible, and sheer disgust at the act. His return of Hector's body is also a humanizing moment.
- Psycho for Hire: Some interpretations of the Illiad depict Achilles and his Myrmidons as a tribe of Blood Knight mercenary nutjobs.
- Psychopathic Manchild: He has his moments.
- A Real Man Is a Killer: Could be the Ur Example in ancient times and still hold up today. However, Achilles's experience in the battlefield was minimal compared to the rest of the kings taking part in the war, and he was more of a loose cannon at best.
- Red-Headed Hero
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: He goes on one after Patroclus's death, which is the most legendary one in literature.
- Too Powerful to Live
- What a Drag: Achilles drags Hector's body with his chariot after killing him.
- Worthy Opponent: Memnon and Hector were this to him.
- Your Days Are Numbered: He was fully aware of it, but preferred a glorious death to an obscure old age.
- Adaptational Heroism: This Hector is nowhere near as heroic as the ones you'll find in Troy or Helen of Troy.
- Authority Equals Asskicking
- Badass: Most of the time. He turns into a wuss whenever Achilles (or anybody he thinks is Achilles) shows up.
- Dirty Coward: Not to the extent of his little brother Paris, but seriously. Hector only attacks Patroclus with a swarm of men, runs like the wind when confronted by Achilles, and only goes out to fight him when he thinks his brother Deiphobus is with him.
- That being said, he was up against Achilles. He knew he was outclassed on his own, and knew he was going to die if he fought him alone.
- Good Parents
- Happily Married
- Honor Before Reason
- Kick the Dog: Planned to dismember Patroclus' body in revenge for Patroclus scaring him.
- Only Sane Man: Seems to be the only Trojan who realises that kidnapping Helen was a spectacularly stupid idea.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something
- Warrior Prince: Crown Prince of Troy and their champion to boot.
Perhaps the most famous son of Poseidon — unless the mortal Aigeus was his real father after all. He is most well known for slaying the Minotaur and ruling the city of Athens. Among his other deeds are killing serial killers, with Heracles inventing the mixed martial art of pankration, and his interactions with other famous mythological people like Heracles, Oedipus, and Medea.
- Abduction Is Love: Theseus had a nasty habit of kidnapping women against their will or their husbands'.
- All Amazons Want Hercules: Averted: Theseus kidnaps the Amazon queen, starting a war.
- Cain and Abel: Many of the serial killers Theseus killed were his half-brothers through Poseidon.
- Genius Bruiser: Not very well known, but the way he retrieved his father's sword and shoes in the Secret Test of Character and the way he defeated the three bandits in the road to Athens showcase this.
- Hero of Another Story: Guest stars in several stories where he is not the focus, but his other adventures are alluded to.
- The Jail Bait Wait: When Theseus kidnapped Helen, she was just a little girl. He intented to marry her when she gets old enough, but her brother (Castor and Pollux) rescued her while Theseus was trapped in Underworld.
- Old Man Marrying A Child : Decided to abduct and marry Helen of Troy. She was so young he had to wait till she reached marriageable age compared to himself, who was already fully grown and married once. Subverted as he soon got trapped in the underworld and Helen got rescued by her brothers Castor and Pollux.
- Pay Evil unto Evil: Does this to all the Serial Killers (because seriously, that's what they are) that he meets on the road to Athens, killing them all in the same way that they killed their victims.
- Pet the Dog: He gladly and without hesitation gave asylum to Oedipus when so many cities had denied him this. In Euripides' and Seneca's plays about Heracles, he does the same for Heracles after he murdered his wife and child.
- Super Strength: Some accounts he killed the Minotaur with his bare hands.
- Too Dumb to Live: He and his friend Perithoos once swore oaths to help each other get new wives. Theseus wanted Helen, but Perithoos decided to abduct Perspheone, wife of Hades. This was not a good idea, and Theseus knew it, but could not break his oath. Thus, the trope is subverted for Theseus, but played completely straight with Perithoos. Theseus was eventually freed from the underworld by Heracles, but Perithoos was not so lucky.
- On Theseus' way back to Athens from Crete, he experienced several idiotic moments. For example, he managed to leave Ariadne, the woman who had helped him to exit the labyrinth by giving him a thread to tie to the entrance, on an island. He just got up and sailed away without her. Later on that same journey, he forgot to change the sails on his ship - he had set out with black sails, and promised to switch them for white if he returned victorious. Seeing the ship with black sails enter the harbour, his father Aegeus was overcome with grief and threw himself into the sea (now called the 'Aegean'). Justified in some version, he didn't just abandon Ariadne, but was forced to leave her by Dionysus so he can seduce her. And he didn't recover from sorrow, completely forgot about the flag, until it's too late.
- The Unchosen One: Compared to Perseus he had to do everything all on his own.
- Ungrateful Bastard: After Ariadne helped him survive the Labyrinth, he left her on a beach. Fortunately for her, Dionysus came to her rescue. As noted, some version subvert this as Dionysus force him to abandon her.
- Abdicate the Throne: In Sophocles's play Oedipus Rex he exiled himself from Thebes, although Homer had him continue ruling until his death.
- Anti-Hero: How he comes off to modern readers depending on which version of his confrontation with Laios you know.
- Awful Truth: Guess. By modern times it has become It Was His Sled.
- Blind Seer: He becomes this in Sophocles's Oedipus at Colonus.
- Break the Haughty: In spades. Oedipus goes from a strong and beloved king to a shell of his former self in the course of a single day.
- Determinator: He had to find out who killed the king.
- Eye Scream: A broach pin to the eye cannot feel good. That is one painful version of Brain Bleach.
- Guile Hero: His defeat of the Sphinx makes him the epitome of this.
- Hired To Hunt Yourself: His crusade to find out who killed the king. The issue being he was unaware that this was the case.
- I Have No Son: Although Antigone is so great she's almost a substitute for one.
- Irony: He's its bitch.
- Oedipus Complex: Trope Namer, though he himself did none of that deliberately or knowingly.
- Older and Wiser: In Oedipus at Colonus.
- Parental Incest: Oedipus's wife is his mother and all his children are also his half-siblings.
- Patricide: The killing of King Laios.
- Poor Communication Kills: All of the situation might have been avoided if had his adoptive parents just told him he was adopted. Perhaps they were justified, since in those days being of uncertain descent could cause no end of problems for a person in a prominent position.
- Prophecies Are Always Right: Unfortunately for Oedipus.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Part of the great tragedy of his life was the fact that he was this as a king.
- Thanatos Gambit: Oedipus makes sure that Thebes will not benefit from his death, and ensures the future success of Athens.
- A Tragedy of Impulsiveness: Prior to becoming a king in Thebes, he kills his father for basically cutting him off at the crossroads (and being a complete Jerkass about it). He marries his mother, completing the other half of the famous complex, at leisure though. Having been adopted by another family and kept in the dark about his parentage, he did not recognize either one.
- Tragic Hero: In Sophocles's plays, Oedipus is one that has survived from his tragic fall and since gained some measure of dignity back through the blessing his bones will bring to Athens.
- Walking the Earth: In Sophocles's plays, after leaving Thebes, until he found assylum at Athens.
- You Can't Fight Fate: Despite his best intentions to avoid it, Oedipus ends up fulfilling the prophecy.
One of the worst of Tartarus' residents, Sisyphus was damned to eternally roll a rock up a hill. The rock would inevitably turn and roll back down just as he was achieving anything. This was not Disproportionate Retribution
for his crimes.
- Cain and Abel: With his brother, Salmoneus, going so far as to consult the oracle at Delphi on how to kill Salmoneus without incurring any penalties, and seducing his neice Tyro just to hurt Salmoneus.
- The Casanova: In addition to seducing Odysseus' mother on her wedding night, Sisyphus had numerous other affairs, including one with his neice, Tyro.
- The Charmer
- The Chessmaster: Planned for almost everything, including his own death.
- Con Man
- Did You Just Scam Cthulhu?: Repeatedly. He persuades Death to put on the handcuffs that were meant for him, talks Persephone into letting him to return to life to haunt his wife, exposes Zeus' secrets...this guy was a a one-man Cthulhu-conning operation.
- Evil Genius
- Greed: Killed travellers and took their stuff.
- Like a Badass out of Hell: Twice.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: He may be Odysseus' real father.
- Manipulative Bastard
- Pride: Believed himself to be smarter than Zeus. Then again...
- Sisyphus Vs Rock: Original Trope Namer.
- Tailor-Made Prison: Was forced to roll a rock up a hill every day. It took his mind off of plotting and scheming a way to escape the Underworld a third time.
- Talking Your Way Out: Repeatedly.
- The Undead: Persuaded Persephone to let him return to life to haunt his wife.
Handsome giant gifted with the ability to walk on water by his father Poseidon. Actually he has three fathers. He was born from the urine of Zeus, Poseidon, and Hermes. Yeah... Orion is most notable for being the only man Artemis ever loved. This didn't go down well with her twin brother Apollo, so he had him killed, using methods that vary depending on the writer.
, twin sons of Boreas the North Wind. They joined the Argonauts, and it was they who chased the Harpies away from Phineas.
Romulus & Remus
Twins and Co-fouonders of Rome. Their father was Mars
appropriately given their cities most famous occupation
and their stepmother was equally appropriately a she-wolf
(either that or a prostitute; it's the same word in Latin). Remus is killed by Romulus in a quarrel.
The epitome of Roman femininity and the reason Romans had a prejudice against admitting they had a King even long after they had an Emperor. When a wager was made over who was the most virtuous wife in Rome spies were sent out and she was found patiently working at her weaving. Whereupon the Etruscan Royal Brat
Sextus raped her in what may count as one of the stupidest
acts in Ancient History. Following this Lucretia is so shamed that she goes before her husband and family and stabs herself to remove her shame
. Her family and all of Rome are outraged at the deed done to a proper Roman woman
and respond as proper Roman men
Roman triplets and great warriors. Most famous for defending a bridge against the Etruscan forces.
Lysander of Sparta. Founder and lawgiver. Famous for his devotion to one well known trope. Guess what it is?
Lamia was a daughter of Poseidon and beautiful queen of Libya who had an affair with Zeus. When Hera learned of this, she stole their children (or killed them, Depending on the Writer
). Lamia went mad with grief and tore out her own eyes. Zeus then transformed her into a monster allowing her to exact her revenge by hunting and devouring the children of others.
Lamia often appears as a bogey-monster, a night-haunting demon which preyed on children. She was sometimes pluralised into ghostly, man-devouring demon Lamiai.
The tyrant of Arcadia, Lycaon was paid a visit by Jupiter. Determined to prove that this was not really a god, Lycaon plotted not only to kill Jupiter in his sleep, but to serve him human flesh at dinner. In punishment for this, Lycaon was transformed in the first werewolf, so that his outside might reflect what he had been on the inside all along.
- Adaptational Villainy: In the earliest versions of the myth, it is Lycaon's sons, rather than Lycaon himself who are the villains. This vanishes by the late Greek/early Roman period, when Lycaon himself takes centre stage. Each version of the story then tries to make him worse, culminating in Ovid's version.
- Baleful Polymorph: Transformed into a wolf in punishment for his savagery.
- Expy: Started out as one of Tantalus. By the time of the Roman versions, and especially Ovid's take on the myth, he's become a rather different character—a barbarous tyrant to Tantalus' wannabe Evil Genius.
- First Of Its Kind: The first werewolf.
- I Ate WHAT?: Tries to pull this on Jupiter.
- I'm a Humanitarian: He not only serves human flesh to Jupiter, but dines on it himself.
- Offing the Offspring: Depending on the version of the myth, Lycaon serves Jupiter a prisoner—or one of his own sons/grandsons (usually the White Sheep of the family).
- Really Gets Around: Has fifty sons, forty-nine of whom are as bad as he is.
- Would Hurt a Child: In one version, he sacrifices a baby on Zeus/Jupiter's altar to see how his guest will react.
- 0% Approval Rating: Hated by his people; this is one of the reasons why he sets out to prove to them that Jupiter is not really paying them a visit.
One of Tartarus' most infamous residents, Tantalus was a Greek king and a favoured host of Zeus'. In order to prove that Zeus was not all powerful, Tantalus murdered his son Pelops, cooked him in a stew, and served him at a banquet with Zeus in attendance. Enraged, Zeus resurrected Pelops, and condemned Tantalus to eternity in Tartarus.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Odd example. What so outraged the gods about Tantalus, in addition to the obvious "murdering your son" thing, was his horrible treatment of his guests. This is actually a bigger deal than it sounds, as at the time, guest right was one of the most sacred facets of Greek culture. Now it just seems silly.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Set out to prove the Greek gods were idiots. Instead he proved that even Jerkass Gods have standards, and got himself thrown in an Ironic Hell to boot.
- Fatal Flaw: His ego. This is standard for mythical villains and heroes of course.
- I Ate WHAT?: Does this to the Greek gods; Demeter falls for it.
- Ironic Hell: Stands up to his neck in water, with grapes hanging over his head. When he reaches for the grapes they retreat just out of reach. When he bends to take a drink, the water recedes just out of reach.
- Offing the Offspring: Tantalus is in the running for "worst father ever" after what he did to Pelops.
- Pride: Not atypically for this sort of myth, Tantalus' Fatal Flaw is his own egoism, and need to prove he is smarter than Zeus.
Man-eating cyclops son of Poseidon, most famous for being blinded by Odysseus. One less well-known story has him fall in love with the nymph Galateia, who turned him down for love of the beautiful youth Acis. The jealous cyclops discovered the couple lying together, and crushed Acis with a boulder.
A mortal woman with a talent for weaving. She boasted about being better than even Athena herself. Athena was so offended that she challenged Arachne. Regardless of what happened next, it always ends with Arachne becoming a spider.
- Baleful Polymorph: There's a reason that spiders are called "Arachnids"
- Blasphemous Boast: The reason Athena got angry at her.
- Driven to Suicide/My Gods What Have I Done?: One of the oldest versions of the myth says that Arachne tried to hang herself after beating Athena in the weaving contest. Athena tried to save her, but accidentally turned her into a spider in the process.
- Multiple Choice Past: More like "Multiple Choice Future". The story is rarely consistent with what happens between Athena challenging her and Arachne turning into a spider.
- Too Dumb to Live: Arachne, Arachne, Arachne...did you really believe Athena would let you get away with claiming to be better than her?
A seer and the sister of Hector who was cursed by Apollo after she refused his advances. The curse was that no one would ever believe her visions of the future. She is the trope namer for The Cassandra
and Cassandra Truth
- The Cassandra/Cassandra Truth: Duh, she's the Trope Namer
- Kick the Dog: Like you wouldn't believe.
- Mad Oracle: What people saw her as. Later she becomes this for real.
- Rape as Drama: Apollo almost raped her (refusing him is believed to be how she was cursed in the first place) and Ajax the Lesser successfully raped her.
- Sanity Slippage: Around the time the Trojan War rolled in and her brother died, she pretty much snapped.
- Seers: She was a gifted prophet, but nobody believed her predictions. Some say that she got the ability from having her ears licked by snakes (most sources say that she could only hear the future, not see it).
- Trauma Conga Line: Dear Gods, absolutely nothing ever seems to go right for this poor girl!
- World's Most Beautiful Woman: Her beauty was even compared to Aphrodite!