Hercules: the legendary journeys

Kevin Sorbo in Hercules (1995)

Kevin Sorbo in Hercules (1995) © IMDB

In the wilderness of ancient Greece, a legendary hero defies the will of the gods. Preceded by his courage and accompanied by his faithful friend Iolaus, a warrior with great powers is ready to welcome the challenges and pitfalls of his stepmother, the goddess Hera.

Between brute strength, deceptions and friendship, in this time of myths and legends, only he can stand up against the forces of evil: Hercules.

Superhero with an ancient flavor

Hercules (1995)
Hercules (1995)
© IMDB

In 1995, in conjunction with Xena – Warrior Princess, Hercules was released, a New Zealand and American TV series based on one of the most legendary figures of all time. With six seasons that saw their conclusion in 1999, this TV series wanted to be a bit like the male counterpart of the heroine who won a thousand battles.

Just as Xena and Olimpia ruled over the dangerous lands of a fictitious Greece, between myth and legend, so too Hercules (Kevin Sorbo) and Iolaus (Michael Hurst) were committed to saving villages and commoners from the ferocious creatures that the gods, mean and cruel, set free on Earth.

With his divine power and Iolaus’ somewhat careless ingenuity, Hercules can be defined as one of the first superheroes born from the human imagination. His mythical figure halfway between human and divine is the basis of his greatness, lined up against the evil aims of his stepmother, the great queen of the gods Hera.

He, evident proof of the infidelity of her husband, the god Zeus, is in the constant crosshairs of the great goddess; she, angry, sends all kinds of monsters on his way. But Hercules has great abilities and thanks to the precious help of Iolaus, he manages to defeat every creature.

This is how the tales about the great Hercules mix and give life to this hero, champion of good people, vaguely stereotyped with good looks and darting muscles. A superhero with an ancient sopor, the man who dared to challenge the power of the great gods.

A succession of enemies

Kevin Smith in Hercules (1995)
Kevin Smith in Hercules (1995) © IMDB

If in the first few episodes, Hercule’s main antagonist is his stepmother Hera, new enemies take over with the passing of the seasons. From the god Ares (also present in Xena – Warrior Princess) to the evil god Dahak who forces him to travel to Babylon, Scandinavia, and Ireland.

In this amalgam of petty figures and legendary creatures, Hercules is always opposed to the divinities, who in some way always take on negative, distant connotations; they end up becoming capricious, malevolent beings, who instead of protecting humanity are its first torturers.

In this, the show remains faithful to the view that the ancient Greek peoples had of the gods. They worshiped them and prayed for their help and protection, yet they were frightened. They were convinced that they could easily turn against them; for this reason figures like Hercules, and this reason still today we want as a paladin someone similar to us, a man, who however has powers that can make him special.

Hercules has become a worldwide cult for how, with a mixture of fantasy and legend, it was able to offer the right balance between deceptions and challenges, together with a brave superhero, flanked by an ironic and funny helper.

The hero and the father

Meg Foster and Charles Keating in Hercules (1995)
Meg Foster and Charles Keating in Hercules (1995)
© IMDB

Of great importance in this show is the relationship that Hercules shares with his father Zeus. He is the favorite son of the great god, despite their relationship being unfriendly and difficult.

Zeus often appears throughout history; as a kind of guardian angel, he protects his son, saving his life and restoring his powers in case of need. And when he asks his son for help, Hercule is available. Despite being distant from each other, they maintain the bond of blood, stronger than anything else; it holds them together, and in the end allows them to make peace.

In Hercules, we, therefore, see a distant father, who nevertheless observes his son and desires his victory; a father who tests him, but who does not hesitate to offer him his help. It is a very human, disharmonious relationship, which ultimately finds a way to exist and function.

Michael Hurst in Hercules (1995)
Michael Hurst in Hercules (1995) © IMDB

One of a kind

Hercules, as well as its partner Xena – Warrior Princess, is a TV series that will always remain one of a kind. In a fantasy realm where legend finds reality, Hercules continues to fight for good, slay monsters and challenge the gods, while Iolaus has his back.

Among the series we loved the most, he takes his place in the Old But Gold column, with a strength, surpassed only by his courage.

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