Comparison Of The Life Paths And Stories Of Heracles And Percy Jackson

June 7, 2022 by Essay Writer


Percy Jackson and Heracles both have a unique story with many similarities and differences. Rick Riordon was inspired by his son and also his love for Greek mythology to create Percy’s character. Percy can be seen as a modernized version of Heracles because they have endured very similar experiences. Riordon portrays Percy as a very young teen (12yrs) but Heracles is full grown man. I will be explaining in depth about Percy Jackson and Heracles’ connections (similarities and differences). Although they have two completely different stories/myths, they are very comparable and share some connections which makes there stories more unique.


Heracles and Percy both have a conflict between their immortal and mortal minds. This affected their lifestyle in some similar but different ways. Percy found out that he is a demi-god at a very complicated time of his life. He was 12 and still trying to figure out who he really is. He thinks of himself as a troubled kid. “Am I a troubled kid? You could say that” (Riordon, 2005). Percy also grew up not knowing who his real father was and instead grew up with his abusive stepdad, Gabe Ugliano. This affected his views on himself and life in general. Percy got into fights and was getting kicked out of school. It became a normal routine for him and his mother.

When Percy finds out that he is a demi-god, this added more complication to his life because of how young he is and how he understood the world. As bad as his life already was, knowing that he is a demi-god created new problems for Percy as he is just settling into his new school (Yancy Academy). “Because I’m not normal,” I said. “You say that as if it’s a bad thing, Percy. But you don’t realize how important you are. I thought Yancy Academy would be far enough away. I thought you’d finally be safe.” (Riordon,2005)

Heracles on the other hand doesn’t have the same identity issue. He is more secure in himself and typifies a young hero/ demi-god. Heracles’ upbringing wasn’t as complicated as Percy’s; however, he did face many challenges as a very young kid.

“When the child was eight months old, Hera desired the destruction of the babe and sent two huge serpents to the bed. Alcmena called Amphitryon to her help, but Hercules arose and killed the serpents by strangling them with both his hands.84′ (Apollodorus, the library, book 2, 2.4.8)

After killing his family, he feels as though he needs to atone for his sins – which leads to his 12 labours. Heracles consulted the oracle of Delphi who told him he must go to his cousin, King Eurystheus who will give him the 12 labours that he must accomplish in order to be forgiven. But it all started with his jealous stepmother, Hera (wife of Zeus and Goddess of Marriage). His relationship with his stepmother was not the best. Hera despised Heracles and wished nothing but pain and death upon him. She used her power as an advantage to ruin Heracles’ life.

“…Minyans Hercules was driven mad through the jealousy of Hera and flung his own children, whom he had by Megara, and two children of Iphicles into the fire 96; wherefore he condemned himself to exile, and was purified by Thespius, and repairing to Delphi he inquired of the god where he should dwell….”. (Apollodorus, The Library 2, Book 2, 2.4.12)

This led Heracles into believing that he is the bad guy and he must atone for his sins. This affected the way Heracles thought about himself and added more tension to the conflict between his mortal and immortal minds- this is shown by the crazy acts he did after killing his family.

Brutal Maniac Vs Tragic Hero

Is Percy Jackson a brutal maniac or a tragic hero? What about Heracles? A Brutal Maniac is described as a savagely violent and exhibiting extremely wild or enthusiastic behaviour and Tragic Hero is a literary character who makes an error of judgment or has a fatal flaw that, combined with fate and external forces, brings on a tragedy.

Percy and Heracles both had a unique upbringing which has shaped them and their mindset. It’s fair to say that they both have had a good number of tragic events but also a hand full of brutal behaviour. In a way they both have had similar experiences which is why it’s questionable whether they are Brutal maniacs or Tragic Heroes.

Because of Percy’s past/ upbringing, he is simply just a Tragic ‘hero’. Violence has been in his life since he was very young due to his abusive stepdad, Gabe Ugliano. Gabe Ugliano is responsible for most of the violence in Percy’s life. He has also portrayed Percy to be a “troubled” kid with many “issues”. Percy’s Maniac behaviour began to increase when he suddenly killed his teacher.’Absolute terror ran through my body.

I did the only thing that came naturally: I swung the sword. The metal blade hit her shoulder and passed clean through her body as if she were made of water. Hisss! Mrs. Dodds was a sandcastle in a power fan. She exploded into yellow powder, vaporized on the spot, leaving nothing but the smell of sulfur and a dying screech and a chill of evil in the air, as if those two glowing red eyes were still watching me.'(Riordon, 2005).

During Percy’s quest to find and return the lightning bolt back to Zeus, Percy encountered many life risking challenges that highlights his demi-god personality. However, he always had his two friends with him which are always there to help him, this shows how reliant he his on others and not himself. “The monster whimpered. I didn’t need to speak dog to know Cerberus was still waiting for the ball. “Good dog. I’ll come visit you soon. I-I promise.” Annabeth turned to us. “Let’s go” (Riordon, 2005). (This highlights his mortal self.) Percy didn’t really show much of a “Brutal Maniac” side to his demi-god personality, which is why he could simply just be a “Tragic Hero”.

Heracles had a very violent upbringing which helped to shape him as a demi-god/ hero. He first showed his brutal behaviour when he was an infant and strangled 2 serpents with his own bare hands. Percy also encountered a similar incident where he also killed two serpents. His violent behaviour grew with him when he killed his music teacher. “Hercules was taught to drive a chariot by Amphitryon, to wrestle by Autolycus, to shoot with the bow by Eurytus, to fence by Castor, and to play the lyre by Linus.

This Linus was a brother of Orpheus; he came to Thebes and became a Theban, but was killed by Hercules with a blow of the lyre; for being struck by him, Hercules flew into a rage and slew him.”(Apollodorus, the library, book 2, 2.4.9) The violence didn’t end there, it progressed more and more as he grew older. Because of his jealous stepmother (Hera), there were many unfortunate and life risking events that she is responsible for. His brutal behaviour starts to develop as he his completing the 12 labours. Each labour required a lot of physical violence which lead Heracles to a lot of aggression and added on to his emotions physically and mentally after killing his family.

Percy’s quest and Heracles’ 12 labours can easily be compared and we can figure out whether they are a Brutal Maniac, Tragic Hero or just both. It’s easy to say that they both endured a lot of life risking challenges, however, if it wasn’t for Percy’s two friends (Grover and Annabeth), Percy would’ve never finished his quest alive. In that case, Heracles did face more violence, obstacles and also completed the labours by himself. Both have had a hand full of accusations pointed at them. Percy was blamed for stealing Zeus’s lightning bolt and the helm of darkness, and Heracles was blamed for killing his family. These accusations are the leading cause of their quest/ labours.


Love isn’t a strong aspect when it comes to Percy and Heracles’ journey. However, they both had someone that they loved very much which did affected their quest/ labours. Percy and Heracles have completely different love stories which makes them more interesting.

Percy’s love for his Mother is undeniable, she was the only parent figure that he had growing up. Gabe Ugliano was the complete opposite of a father figure to Percy which is why he has the image of a ‘troubled kid’. Percy’s love for his Mother is contrasted throughout his quest when he refused to leave without her (chapter 4) and Grover after Gabe’s Camaro got struck by lightning.

I could feel Percy’s sadness and anger when His mother was strangled by the monster and disintegrated out of no where, because of how much he expressed his love for his Mother. “When she looks at me, it’s like she’s seeing all the good things about me, none of the bad. I’ve never heard her raise her voice or say an unkind word to anyone, not even me or Gabe” (Riordon, 2005) Percy then expresses his emotions which were very obvious. “My mother was gone. The whole world should be black and cold. Nothing should look beautiful”(Riordon, 2005)

Heracles has a completely different love story. He was married to Megara (daughter of Creon, King of Thebes) and had 3 sons. It is obvious how much he loved them because the overwhelming guilt and frustration he felt when he woke up covered in his family’s blood. “When he finally recovered from his madness and recognized the mistake he had made through a misapprehension, he was plunged in grief over the magnitude of the calamity.

And while all extended him sympathy and joined in grief, for a long while he stayed inactive at home, avoiding any association or meeting with men; at last, however, time assuaged his grief, and making up his mind to undergo the dangers he made his appearance at the court of Eurystheus.”(Diodorus Siculus, Book iv, 4.11.2)

Although he was under the influence of his stepmother Hera, he was still blamed and atoned for forgiveness in order for him to move on. This also links to the theme of Brutal Maniac vs Tragic Hero as it shows very much his Brutal behaviour but also contrasts his Tragic past.


In conclusion Percy and Heracles stories can both relate and it’s very clear that Rick Riordon had some inspiration from Heracles character and myths to help him create Percy Jackson and his story. Their stories are both very unique and include similar aspects which makes their connection stronger. Because Heracles’ story is set during the classical period, Percy would’ve be a modern version of Heracles. We now know their similarities and differences starting from when they were born to when they completed their quest/ labours.


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