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 asinine ears, snub-noses, horse-like ears and erect members.
- Beast Man: The upper body of a man, but with goat-like ears and tails.
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), Maenads (or Bacchai/Bacchantes, the one who hang out with Bacchus/Dionysus so they can party all the time), and the Muses.
- The Fair Folk: Do remember that a Greek farmer does not live In Harmony with Nature; that is a conceit of city folk. Nature brings blights and floods, and Nymphs know how to arrange such things when they get irritated at a farmer's disrespect.
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. Was worshiped as a God of Strength, athletics and health.
- 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.
- He also tended to feel great sadness and remorse whenever he killed an innocent person.
- 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.
- Big Eater: According to Euripides in his play "Alcestis", Herakles ate so much to terrify Admetus' servants.
- The Big Guy: He was pretty big and took this role when in adventures with other heroes, like the Argonauts.
- Bi the Way: This being Greek Mythology, hardly surprising.
- Boisterous Bruiser: The most famous one in the myths.
- Broken Ace: He was the strongest hero of Greek Mythology, but he suffered from occasional fits of murderous rage thanks to Hera.
- Cultured Badass: Well educated, successful military commander, occasional trickster and a master of Indy Ploys.
- Four-Star Badass: Led an army for the first time when he was 16-18 years old and literally kept on winning wars until the day he died. He and his friends conquered Troy in a couple of days. 2-3 generations later it took all of Greece sending their badasses at the Trojans and a 10 year siege to beat them.
- Genius Bruiser: It's Sadly Mythtaken, but Heracles was smart. 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. He was a natural battle strategist.
- A standout example is the cleaning of the Augean Stables. Having failed to kill him in earlier labors Eurystheus wanted to humilate him by having him shovel feces and orders him to clean the Augean Stables (Which hadn't been cleaned in 30 years). Heracles knows this and scouts the area noticing the two rivers. He then goes to Augeas and promises to clean the Stables in 1 day if the King gives him a 10th of his cattle without telling him that he was under orders to clean them anyways. The King thinking that it's impossible and that he'd be getting a free days labor agrees and Heracles brings his own sons to watch him swear an oath. He then diverts the two rivers to wash the stables clean, doesn't get his hands dirty and has Augeas' own sons testify against him when he tries to deny him his reward.
- The Chosen One: The Gigantomachy (the attempt by the Giants to overthrow the Olympians) was arguably the greatest threat the gods ever faced. They could not be killed by the gods, although a mortal man could kill them...if he were strong and brave enough. Prometheus foretold that Zeus would eventually have a son with a mortal woman who would save the Olympians during the Gigantomachy. Heracles' participation in the battle was the key to victory, as he finished off each of the Giants as the Olympians wounded them.
- 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' aegis, he manages to come out on top.
- And, according to Hesiod, he's also got a kick-ass suit of armor forged by Hephaestus, with a shield wrought in adamant.
- 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.
- It's worth pointing out that he may very well have been drunk when he beat Thanatos (Ancient Greek wine is NOT something to be taken lightly; a few cups is enough to knock out a full grown cyclops).
- Famed In-Story: It eventually applies to most heroes in Greek mythology, but Heracles stands out. When the young heroes gathered for Jason's quest, they wanted Heracles to lead them because he was already a long established hero.
- Gladiator Games: He didn't take part in these in the myths for obvious reasons, but the Ancient Romans considered him the patron God of Gladiators and when Gladiators were freed their weapons would be left in his temples as an offering.
- The Hero
- Heroic Build: According to ancient sources he was very tall and extremely muscular. Ancient Greeks even used the term Herculean to describe a heavily muscled physique.
- 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.
- The Medic: The ancient Greks believed he had the power to heal.
- 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 Favoritism: Zeus liked to brag about Hercules to the extent that it intensified Hera's hatred of Hercules.
- Physical God: Becomes this after he joins the Olympians on Olympus. He's arguably this before ascending too.
- 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. note
- Really 700 Years Old: Becomes this by the time he visits Philoctetes and convinces him to go to Troy via Godhood.
- 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.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Some interpretations of his character.
- When All You Have Is a Hammer: One of his Twelve Labors is to capture the 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: In pure strength he is unrivaled. Even Zeus was shocked to see him take the sky on his shoulders.
Eurystheus was the King of Mycenae and the cousin Heracles had to serve under to atone for the crimes he committed while possessed by the Goddess Hera.
- Dirty Coward: He was an arrogant, boastful prick when Heracles had to be subservient to him. However, Heracles revealed his true colors by unleashing many of the creatures he captured as part of the Labours, such as the Erymanthian Boar, the Cretan Bull and Cerberus. Every time, Eurystheus ran away screaming in terror and hid in a giant brass pot.
- Evil Is Petty: After Heracles successfully completes several of his labors, Eurystheus sends him to clean Augeas' Stables figuring that if he can't kill him, he'll at least embarrass him by making a Son of a God do menial work. Hercules figured away around it.
- Green-Eyed Monster: He was jealous of Hercules' power, abilities and fame.
- Revenge by Proxy: After Heracles ascends to Olympus, Eurystheus tries to kill off Hercules' many children.
- Running Gag: Every time Heracles brought back some sort of dangerous creature during the Labours, Eurystheus would run and hide in a large brass pot, screaming in terror until Heracles took the creature away.
Iolaus was Hercules' nephew, squire and sidekick, acompanying him on many of his adventures.
- Bad Ass: According to the Ancient sources Iolaus was "warlike" and would fight on the frontlines with Heracles.
- Old Soldier: By the time Heracles ascends to Olympus he's this. He's given his youth back for the day by the Goddess of Youth, Hebe (Heracles' wife) so that he can fight Eurystheus.
Deianira was Hercules' third and last mortal wife. After their mariage they come across a river and Nessus offers to ferry her across. However once he reaches the other shore he tries to rape her. Hercules shoots him with poisoned arrows. In a final gambit before he dies, Nessus convinces Deianira that his blood is a love potion. She takes a vial of it, and he tells her to smear it on her husband's clothes if he ever proves unfaithful. She does just that, but it doesn't end well. The sister of Meleager and a princess of Calydon.
Perseus was the Greek hero who killed the Gorgon Medusa in order to fulfill the evil king Polydectes' demands and save his mother Danae from the guy. Along the way he married Andromeda, having rescued her from a sea monster sent by Poseidon in retribution for Andromeda's mother 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.
- Subverted with his grandfather Acrisius: in the major part of the myths, Perseus killing him is a genuine 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' 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' throne after the bastard was turned to stone (not to mention, Polycdetes was Dictys' brother and threw him out of the court), 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. Not to mention a sympathetic one: Danae was a very sweet mom to him, so Perseus obviously loves her lots and would lay down his life for her.
- Nice Guy: By far one of the most heroic characters in Greek Mythology by modern standards, he is a fiercely devoted and protective son to both his mother and adoptive dad, 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.
- Out-of-Character Moment: In one version of his myth, he tosses the Graeae's eye into a river for no apparent reason.
- Rescue Romance: With Andromeda.
- Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: His killing of Acrisios. So the grandpa spirited baby and Danae away to save his own skin and avoid being murdered by a descendant? Years later, Perseus kills him by complete accident — he was practising with the discus for a nearby city's sport competitions not knowing Acrisius was visiting, his throw veered, Acrisius got hit on the head...
- Supernatural Aid: The Gods themselves are on his side, especially Athena. Though they can't help him directly, they can give him advice and the stuff he needs.
- 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 team-up 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 (or she) turned them both into lions.
- Action Girl: A skilled warrior and hunter who played a major role in the Argonauts' adventures and battles.
- Amazonian Beauty: So beautiful 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 below under Baleful Polymorph.
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: She got distracted from her footrace with Hippomenes by the gold apples he rolled while he ran, which cost her the race and gave Hippomenes the chance to marry her.
- 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' 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 consummated their relationship, resulting in a son named Parthenopeus.
- Charles Atlas Superpower: She seems to have some superhuman abilities despite her apparent lack of divine parentage.
- Cursed with Awesome: Sort of. She couldn't mate with Hippomenes again, but still...
- Dangerously Short Skirt: In vase painting. Greek maidens traditionally wore knee-length dresses while hunting, but artists consistently painted her in dresses that barely covered her ass for some reason.
- Does Not Like Men: With the exception of Meleager and possibly Hippomenes.
- Ms. Fanservice: Often depicted in artwork wearing quite revealing clothes, usually very short skirts, and bare breasts, but Turned Up to Eleven in this vase painting◊ that demonstrates that the trend of depicting female heroes wearing skimpy bikinis is much Older than You Think
- Panthera Awesome: See Baleful Polymorph above.
- 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.
- The Smurfette Principle: The only woman who sailed with the Argonauts in the quest for the Golden Fleece.
- Super Speed: Her defining trait. No explanation is given for why a baseline mortal would have such an ability.
- 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 Battle Couple and 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.
- 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.
- Evil Chancellor: To Theseus' father. Her plan to kill Theseus was foiled but again she escaped.
- Lady of Black Magic: A sorceress and regal princess to boot.
- 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. This power is traditionally seen in Hellenic culture to be derived from Helios, and predictably it's mostly seen by witches descending from him.
- Karma Houdini: Ascended to godhood after death, or was given the gift of immortality by Hera for rejecting Zeus, or married Achilles in the afterlife (something claimed of several other women as well). Either way...
- 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...
- The Power of the Sun: As a granddaughter of Helios, her powers came from the Sun, and are what greeks believed to be spells associated with his domain. Examples include casting the evil eye (see below) and invoking a dragon-pulled Sun chariot in order to flee.
- Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: The consequences of Jason dumping her were not pretty. Although there were not-so-subtle hints that there was something wrong with her from before Jason left her.
- Tragic Villain: Especially when you consider that, according to certain versions of the myth, an entire cabal of goddesses conspired to essentially brainwash her into falling in love with Jason ... Kind of puts a new spin on the story.
- Wicked Stepmother: To Theseus. She tried to poison him to ensure her own son would get the throne.
- Woman Scorned: The phrase comes from Euripides' play entitled, well, Medea, making her the Trope Namer. When Jason left her, she burned her rival alive with a fire so intense it set on fire the royal palace, set on fire the city of Corinth for being ruled by the man who got Jason to dump her, and killed her own children to end his line.
- Yandere: 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.
An Aethiopian princess, who was Chained to a Rock
as a sacrifice for a sea monster, Cetus, sent by Poseidon when her mother Cassopeia boasted that her daughter was more beautiful than the Nereids. However, she was saved from Cetus by Perseus, who she married.
- Damsel in Distress: One of the earliest examples. What's more, she did nothing wrong or stupid; her mother was the one who caused the mess, Andromeda was involved by proxy, and shit went down for her.
- Happily Married: To Perseus, which is one of the incredibly few, and most memorable, examples in Greek mythology.
- Human Sacrifice: Intended to be one for Cetus, in order to keep the coast of Aethiopia from being ravaged. Fortunately, Perseus saves her from this fate.
- Rescue Romance: With Perseus.
Son of Muse Calliope and learned musical skills from Apollo. Even the famous Sirens couldn't beat Orpheus when it came 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.
- 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 B.S.O.D.: 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.
- 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!
- 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
- King Incognito: Before taking his final revenge on the suitors.
- Only Sane Man: During the Trojan War.
- Papa Wolf: He tried to feign madness to not go to war - but when an emissary put him and his infant son Telemachus in a really risky situation to see what he would do, he immediately dropped the charade so the kid wouldn't be hurt.
- 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.
- Sadistic Choice: Scylla and Charybdis. One will eat some of his men, the other will eat all his men.
- Schmuck Bait: He thinks and plans the greatest one in recorded legend, the Trojan Horse.
- 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
King of Mycenae and brother of Menelaus, who commanded the Greek forces in the Trojan War. When he prepared to sail to Troy with his army from Aulis, he incurred the wrath of Artemis (the reasons for this vary
) and was forced to offer his daughter, Iphigenia, as a sacrifice to appease her. In the war itself, he actively fought on the battlefield and, in the final year, had a quarrel with Achilles over a slave named Briseis, which resulted in Achilles in His Tent
and nearly cost the Greeks victory. When he returned from Troy, he was killed by his wife, Clytemnestra.
- 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.
- Adaptational Wimp: Going hand in hand with the above Adaptational Villainy, most modern adaptation of The Illiad and Greek mythology portray Agamemnon as a cowardly backstabbing armchair general who is sitting behind his troops int he midst of battle. The worst offenders such as the film Troy show him as being solely responsible for much of the Greek's defeat in the Trojan War with his arrogance and never portray him clashing in melee with the Trojans. Even the most favorable modern TV and film portrayals downplay Agamemnon's martial prowess and simply portray him commanding far from the front lines with 20 or more bodyguards. Where as in the original stories, he was a badass on the same tier as Achilles and even known to berserk on a few moments and take entire Trojan battalions alone. To the point even Achilles had to admit begrudging respect after a major battle.
- Asshole Victim: At the hands of Clytemnestra - or at least by 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 two of her other kids (Electra and Orestes), and neglected her remaining daughter Crysothemis.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: If Achilles is so badass, why is Agamemnon in charge? He has the most ships, by ten.
- 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.
- 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 returning to one's own home
- Good Parents: Tragically, it’s strongly implied by Electra’s memories of him that he was this before everything when to hell.
- 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/Tragic Villain: Due to values dissonance he's the latter in modern days.
- Virgin Sacrifice: Agamemnon had to kill one of his daughters, Iphigenia, for a favorable wind in order to go to war.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Beats Paris in single combat. He would've killed him too, if Aphrodite hadn't stepped in.
- Youngest Child Wins: He escapes the curse on the House of Atreus and lives happily ever after with Helen.
Telamonean Ajax (Ajax the Greater)
- Authority Equals Asskicking: He was rince of Salamis.
- Axe Crazy: Driven to this after his Blasphemous Boast.
- Badass Normal: Ajax has no divine blood, and actively refuses divine aid. He proceeds to withstand the strength of multiple gods.
- 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: Of the Achaians as their largest warrior. He is described as the "castle of Achaians" in text.
- 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
- Brains and Brawn: The Brawn to Teucer’s Brain.
- Break the Haughty: Athena, helped along by Ajax himself, does a stellar job of this.
- 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: Not to extreme levels, but it certainly gets it to him that Achaians do not value his martial skill.
- Heroic B.S.O.D.: 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.
- Large and in Charge: He was by far the largest champion of the Greeks, as well as one of their leaders.
- 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: As with all Achaians kings.
- 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 Gay: Possibly. His relationship with Patroclus is very debatable among readers (to the point that even Plato theorized they were lovers).
- 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.
- The Berserker: One of the most widely known in literature.
- Bi the Way: May or may not have had a homosexual relationship with Patroclus. Then 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.
- Fatal Flaw: Both pride and wrath.
- Glory Hound: The one of Iliad. One of the biggest in lierature.
- Heroic B.S.O.D.: After Patroclus's death. His Roaring Rampage of Revenge happens shortly after he breaks out of it.
- I Love the Dead: Achilles fell in love with the amazon queen Penthesilea after her death.
- Invincible Hero: The reason why Homer kept him out of the fighting for so long. Once Achilles starts fighting, it is game over for the Trojans.
- 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 About Me: When he feels he's been gypped by the Greeks he's fighting under, he not only withdraws from the conflict and refuses to fight (which comes as a series blow to the Greek army) but prays to the Gods to make the Greeks lose.
- 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.
- Morality Pet: Patroclus was one of the few people (other than himself) that Achilles cared about. Even though he'd withdrawn himself from the fighting, he even gave Patroclus his shield and armor to fight for the Greeks, just so he'd be safe.
- Narcissist: Has a great deal of trouble caring about anybody other than himself.
- 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 the girl 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.
- Achilles did genuinely love his comrade Patroclus, and was horrified when he found his inaction in the war had led to his untimely death.
- 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.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: He goes on one after Patroclus's death, which is the most legendary one in literature.
- Adaptational Heroism: This Hector is nowhere near as heroic as the ones you'll find in Troy or Helen of Troy.
- Authority Equals Asskicking : The Commander of Trojan army and their greatest warrior.
- Badass Normal: Not a demigod, not favored by a god, not washed in a river and given Nigh-Invulnerability, yet he is the best warrior in Troy, and is only defeated because of Achiles's Nigh-Invulnerability.
- 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.
- 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
- Ship Tease: Despite being married, he gets some of this with Helen. He was always nice and courteous to her, and she herself wished her husband was more like Hector. At his funeral she even gave a big tear-jerking eulogy about how upset she was at his death and how she essentially had no one else in Troy.
- Warrior Prince: Crown Prince of Troy and their champion to boot.
- The Chosen One: Chosen to damn Troy that is.
- Dirty Coward: A defining example.
- Miles Gloriosus: Paris is often described as being very eager to get into combat and help out his brother. It's a pity he mostly sucks at it.
A fierce Greek warrior and king of Argos who fought at the Trojan War.
- The Ace: Diomedes was the second greatest warrior at Troy, surpassed only by Achilles and only equaled by Hector and Ajax the Greater, he was wise and intelligent, young, handsome, well respected, brought the third largest force to Troy and was the only full mortal to get away with wounding Gods.
Daughter of Zeus and wife of Menelaus, who was considered the World's Most Beautiful Woman
. Her abduction by Paris kicked off the Trojan War.
- Alone in a Crowd: In Troy.
- Damsel in Distress: Twice: first she was kidnapped by Theseus (in some versions, when she was seven years old) and had to be rescued by Castor and Pollux, and then she was abducted by Paris (though she goes with him willingly in other versions), which started the Trojan War.
- Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: Early on in The Iliad, she verbally flips off Aphrodite by basically stating, "If you think the bed needs filling, why don't you go screw [Paris] yourself?"
- Everyone Loves Blondes: Depicted with golden hair in some paintings.
- Informed Attractiveness: Because she's supposed to have beauty so great that a war happened because of it, it can be somewhat hard to get across in paintings of her.
- Lonely Rich Kid: Despite being a wealthy queen, Helen was essentially friendless in Troy, besides Hector, and missed her home very much.
- Love Makes You Crazy/Love Makes You Dumb: Whether or not she actually loved Paris back varies: some versions say that Aphrodite effectively brainwashed her into an infatuation with Paris, while others say that she loved Paris of her own volition and went with him willingly.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: She's mainly known as "Helen of Troy" because of her abduction by a Trojan prince, and very uncommonly as "Helen of Sparta" (which she was when she was married to Menelaus).
- Ship Tease: With Hector, to an extent. He's one of few people in Troy to treat her decently, and in turn, she subtly derides Paris for making Hector do all the fighting and at one point wishes that Paris were more like Hector.
- So Beautiful, It's a Curse: Her legendary beauty gave her a lot of unwanted attention, and was what got her to be Aphrodite's bribe to make Paris choose her as the most beautiful goddess on Olympus over Hera and Athena.
- Talking to the Dead: At Hector's funeral:
Helen: Hector, dearest to me of all my husband's brothers! These tears of sorrow that I shed are both for you and for my miserable self. No one is left, in all of Troy, that is gentle or kind to me.
- World's Most Beautiful Woman: The Trope Namer and Trope Maker.
Half-sister to Helen, wife of Agamemnon and mother of Iphigenia, Electra, Chrysothemis and Orestes, whom she kills in revenge for the sacrifice of their daughter Iphigenia. Killed in revenge by her son Orestes.
- Abusive Mom: Towards Electra
- Adult Fear: Deceived by Agamemnon into taking Iphigenia to Aulis, believing her daughter is to be married to Achilles.
- Depending on the Author: Her personality: Homer depicts her as weak and submissive while Aeschylus portrays her as ruthless and manipulative. She had a previous husband whom Agamemnon killed in some versions of the myth.
- Evil Matriarch: To Electra
- God Save Us from the Queen!: Played with; while she's manipulative and vengeful, there isn't much evidence of her being a bad ruler.
Daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra. Plots her death in revenge for the death of Agamemnon. She's the focus of Electra
by Sophocles and an eponymous play by Euripides. Also appears in The Oresteia
- Antagonistic Offspring: Towards Clytemnestra
- Big Brother Worship: Towards Orestes, but it is entirely contingent on the fact that she thinks he will kill Clytemnestra one day. If he chose to stay happily in exile for the rest of his life she'd probably disown him, but as her only ally and potential saviour he is the recipient of all her love.
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 Pirithous once swore oaths to help each other get new wives. Theseus wanted Helen, but Pirithous 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 Pirithous. Theseus was eventually freed from the underworld by Heracles, but Pirithous 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 asylum 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 niece 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 niece, Tyro.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Big Creepy-Crawlies: The most famous version of his death has Apollo sic a giant scorpion on him.
- Carry a Big Stick: His weapon of choice was a jeweled club.
- Chick Magnet: You'd better believe it! Even famous man-hater Artemis went for this guy.
- Eye Scream: One story has an evil king poke out his eyes with a dagger. He gets his sight back from Helios, though.
- A Man Is Not a Virgin: Had sexual relations with several nymphs, and had a few children. Contrast with the virgin Artemis.
- Unfortunate Name: His name means simply "Urine".
, 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 Noble 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
- Defiled Forever: Played with. She thought she was, but her husband had no such thoughts at least according to one version. In any case she is remembered as a heroine of Rome; whether or not it was because her suicide was felt to have "cleansed" her is debatable.
Roman triplets and great warriors. Most famous for defending a bridge against the Etruscan forces.
Lycurgus 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.
- Our Vampires Are Different: Lamiai are just one of four kinds vampire-like beings in Classical Mythology, the other three being Empusai, Keres, and Strigoi.
- Shark Man: Lamia means "Large Shark", which may indicate that she is a shark woman. She also had a son by Zeus named Akheilos who was transformed into a shark by Aphrodite.
- Snake People: Lamiai were sometimes described as serpentine from the waist down.
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 favored host of Zeus'. In order to prove that Zeus was not all powerful via tricking him, 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, but only because she was distraught over the missing Persephone.
- 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.
- Smug Snake: Very commonly portrayed as such in adaptations. Not an innaccurate portrayal, of course.
Tantalus' aforementioned son.
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.
- Carpet of Virility: Was consistently described as shaggy. "Trees without their leaves are ugly, and a horse is ugly too without a mane to veil its sorrel neck. Feathers clothe birds and fleeces grace the sheep: so beard and bristles best become a man."
- Hidden Depths: Despite his crude, barbaric exterior, he was quite musical. He was skilled with the kithara, and panpipes, and according to one story, he even taught Galateia how to sing.
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, since Pride was one of the worst sins that a human could ever commit against the Gods.
- Interrupted Suicide: 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. Another version holds that she lost to Athena, and attempted suicide because the terms were that the loser would never use a needle or spindle again. Athena stopped her and turned Arachne into a spider so that she could weave without tools.
- 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?
- In some versions, she used her tapestry to make fun of Zeus...AKA, Athena's father. With Athena being Athena, you can guess that this didn't end well for her.
A seer and the sister of Hector who was cursed by Apollo in shady circumstances. 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
- Subverted in the Orestiada — she begins to describe the bloody story of the city of Argos and Agamemnon's lineage as clealy as if she had been there, which is impossible for obvious reasons. This prompts the initially unconvinced Argos Elders to have sympathy for her plight.
- Cosmic Plaything: Dear Gods, absolutely nothing ever seems to go right for this poor girl!
- Depending on the Writer: Some versions say that Cassandra was a priestess of Apollo and made a chastity vow as a part of said devotion, with Apollo cursing her when she broke it. Others stae that she and Apollo were lovers and he cursed her when she either dumped him or cheated on him. In others, see Rape as Drama.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Uhm, where do we start...?
- Kick the Dog: Like you wouldn't believe.
- Mad Oracle: What people saw her as. Later she becomes this for real.
- The Ophelia: Specially in the Orestiada
- Rape as Drama: In some myths, Apollo almost raped her and refusing him is believed to be how she was cursed in the first place. In all of them, 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); others said that Apollo gave her her powers as a gift.
- Trauma Conga Line: Her entire life is one traumatic event after another. By the end of it all, she actually lets someone kill her just to get out of it.
- World's Most Beautiful Woman: Her beauty was even compared to Aphrodite!
A queen of Thebes who made the mistake of boasting she was better than Leto since she had 14 children: seven sons and seven daughters compared to Leto's two: Apollo and Artemis. The twins quickly retaliated by killing all of her children despite pleas to spare at least one. note
Her husband was either killed for swearing revenge or committed suicide. Eventually, she was turned to stone by the gods in an effort to make her stop crying. Her children's bodies remained unburied for nine days because Zeus had turned every citizen of Thebes to stone despite pleas for mercy. All in all, one of the most tragic figures in Greek mythology.
- Blasphemous Boast: Her crime of comparing herself to Leto.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Might as well be the poster child for this trope. Sadly, there were several others who suffered as much as she did if not more.
- Kick the Dog: Killing her children...perhaps barely passable. Turning everyone in the city to stone is just plain cruel.
- My God, What Have I Done?: The gods themselves upon realizing they maybe they went a tad too far, what with the stench of rotting corpses and her incessant mourning, buried the children themselves and turned her to stone to try and shut her up.
Jason and the Argonauts
One of the few mortal heroes of Greek myth. He is famous for assembling the Argonauts, virtually every hero of worth in ancient Greece before Troy, and questing for the Golden Fleece. He is also somewhat infamous for his stupidity in his treatment of the sorceress Medea.
- Badass Normal: Purely mortal and lacking any magical weapons unlike nearly every other Greek Hero
- That's only Jason, mind. Several Argonauts have unique powers- Periclymenus is a shapeshifter, Lycenus has X-Ray Vision, Aethalides has... really good memory...
- The Chosen One: Jason is perhaps the only mortal hero to be favored by Hera and was chosen to avenge the killing of a woman in Hera's temple by his uncle Pelias.
- Downer Ending: One of the most downers in all of Greek myth thanks to his own stupidity. Jason ends up losing his family, any kingdom he might have had, and spend his last years wandering the early as a lonely beggar before falling asleep under the rotting timber of the Argo, reflecting on past glories, and a piece falls off, killing him.
- Hero of Another Story: Heracles departs from the Argonauts about a third of the way through to look for his missing friend (and possible lover) Hylas. It is usually stated that he was required to return to his labors.
- The Quest: The most famous one from Greek myth guest starring everyone with a name.
- Story-Breaker Power: The most likely reason Heracles was written out. Who needs Medea and her magic or any other hero when you have someone that can fight gods?
- Super Team: The Argonauts may be the Ur-Example. The exact list tends to vary ranging from forty to fifty heroes. Lists typically include the most famous heroes of Greece alive at the time: Heracles, Orpheus, Atlanta, Meleager, Nestor, Castor and Pollux.
- Too Dumb to Live: Eager to advanced in power and position, Jason abandoned the sorceress Medea. The same sorceress who had been instrumental in obtaining the fleece, defeating a bronze giant, and chopped her own brother to pieces from him. This not only angered her, but angered his patron goddess Hera, the goddess of marriage, women and children and further the other Olympians for breaking an oath sworn by their names. It did not end well for him.
- Ungrateful Bastard: His treatment of Medea. She gave up everything for him and was the one who made his successes possible, saving his life multiple times in the process. After all this and years of marriage, he divorces her to marry another princess and claims he owed her nothing, owing only the gods. She disagreed and so did the Olympians.
The daughter of King Minos of Crete and Queen Pasiphaë of Colchis, Princess Ariadne of Crete became infatuated with the hero Theseus who was about to put an end to the yearly sacrifices of Athenian boys and girls to the Minotaur. Minos tasked her to control the labyrinth where the sacrifices would be put in; she thus helped Theseus by giving him directions inside the maze. Because of this, Ariadne is associated with labyrinths and mazes. She eloped with Theseus after he slayed Minotaur, but the latter left her in Naxos island. Dionysus took pity and made her immortal, then wed her. Of course, there are versions where Dionysus forced Theseus to abandon her in the first place.
- Badass Princess: She was tasked by her father to control the labyrinth, which contained the Minotaur inside.
- Divine Parentage: She is the daughter of Minos, who is the son of Zeus, and Pasiphaë, who is the daughter of sun god Helios and the Oceanid Perse, not to mention being a goddess in her own right.
- Extreme Doormat: She just resigned to her fate after Theseus abandoned her. Thankfully, Dionysus "found" her.
- Foil: She and Medea were both princesses and granddaughters of Helios, they were both infatuated with a hero (Theseus and Jason, respectively), and threw their whole lives for them, plus, said heroes abandoned them even after they had helped them to escape alive. However, while Medea became an Ax-Crazy, Ariadne was possibly too meek to do anything other than lamenting her fate after Theseus abandoned her. Also unlike Medea, who remained single afterward, Ariadne married someone else (Dionysus).
- The Maze: She controlled the labyrinth. To this day, writers could make a nice allusion of someone in a labyrinth and maze using her name or its variants Ariadna/Arianna/Ariane (like in Inception)
The first King of Crete. He and his brothers Rhadamanthys and Sarpedon were the sons of Zeus and Europa, and had been raised by Asterion of Crete. After Asterion died, Minos ascended to the throne and banished his brothers, before marrying Pasiphaë of Colchis and having eight children with her, though he already had relationships with other women and had many other children too
. When he refused to honor Poseidon by killing a precious white bull, Poseidon cursed Pasiphaë to fall in love with the bull and give birth to the Minotaur ("Minos' bull"). Minos then invaded Athens and demanded them yearly sacrifices of young boys and girls to the Minotaur, which was eventually put to an end by Theseus. Later, the architect whom he employed to design the labyrinth, Daedalus, double-crossed him by manipulating his daughters into killing him. After his death, Minos became one of the judges of the Underworld.
- But Not Too Foreign: Possibly one of the first examples of this trope, coming from Ancient Greece. His mother, Europa, is Phoenician (yes, Phoenicians as in those people who resided in modern-day Lebanon and worshiped Canaanite gods also worshipped by the ancient Israelite before they became monotheistic), while his father is Zeus, who is, by all means, a Greek god.
- Divine Parentage: A son of Zeus, the king of the gods. It's possibly because of this parentage that he was allowed to become a judge of the Underworld, despite his Jerkass records.
- Karma Houdini: Despite him actually being the one who didn't honor Poseidon, Poseidon instead cursed "him" by making his wife fell in love with a bull. Then he demanded yearly sacrifices of 14 teenagers from Athens as a peace treaty for invading them and what punishment did he get? Being tasked to be a judge of the Underworld, of course. Then again, he is a demigod son of Zeus, a god known for his douchebaggeries and ability to get away with them, just because he can.
- Really Gets Around: Polyamory isn't forbidden even to this day, let alone in the past.
Aeëtes is a weird one. He is never actually mentioned as a deity, but he is not a demigod either, since his parents are both divine: his father is the sun god Helios, while his mother is Perse, an Oceanid, making him a brother of Circe, Pasiphaë, and Perses. Originally ruling Corinth, Aeëtes founded a new civilization at Colchis (present-day Georgia) and became its first king, fathering two daughters: Medea and Chalciope, and a son: Absyrtus, along the way. He also welcomed Phrixus after his attempted murder by his stepmother, Ino, and gave him Chalciope's hand in marriage. In return, Phrixus gave him the Golden Fleece. Jason later came to get this along with Medea, who killed Absyrtus to stop him from following them. Aeëtes was forced to let them go to collect Absyrtus' remains. He was later succeeded by Perses, either after his death or because Perses deposed him, though not for long, since Medea's son, Medus, later came into his rightful inheritance.
- Divine Parentage: Son of a sun god (Helios) and a water nymph (Perse). This would make him a deity, too, but...(see below).
- The Good King: He was a just king and welcomed his subjects. He even allowed Jason to take the Golden Fleece if he completed several tasks first. Pity that he had to lose two of his children because of that (Medea ran away and killed Absyrtus in the process).
- The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: While his sisters are deities (albeit minor), Aeëtes was never mentioned as such, even though all of them are full siblings and their parents are both divine. Explanation might be that he is divine and immortal, but chose to rule among men. This goes weird when one account his daughter, Medea, who is a mortal, yet somehow had ridiculous amount of powers including mind control, pyrokinetics, and The Power of the Sun, which are definitely supernatural. Those powers had to come from somewhere.
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: He welcomed Jason and allowed him to take the Golden Fleece by completing three tasks. In return, he lost his daughter, Medea, who was swayed by Jason, and son, Absyrtus, who was killed to cover up their escape.
- Outliving One's Offspring: He outlived his offspring Absyrtus...because his other offspring (Medea) killed him.
- The Power of the Sun: Possibly. His father, sisters, and daughter all have one, so it's not implausible.
- Sacred Hospitality: Housed Phrixus kindly and even gave his daughter for marriage. In return, he was given the Golden Fleece, which allowed his kingdom to become one of the greatest in the ancient world (until it was taken by Jason, fairly though).