Theseus, a true hero
“It doesn’t take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle. ” Here, United States Army Commander-in-chief sums up the essence of a modern day American hero. In The King Must Die by Mary Renault, Theseus embodies this quote when showing complete selflessness when risking his life for his people, thus proving him to be a hero. Likewise, a modern hero is able to risk their very own life for the greater good and naturally has outstanding leadership and influential qualities.
A modern hero’s leadership is followed in result of xhibiting their extreme loyalty. Lastly, a hero commonly possesses a quality or gift unlike any other, separating him from the norm. And in The King Must Die, Theseus proves himself to possess all the following traits of selflessness, leadership, and an extraordinary gift. His heroism can further be emphasized by drawing parallels to modern day hero Katniss Everdeen from the novel series The Hunger Games who also reflects such qualities. In the following novels, leadership requires soliciting virtues such as selflessness and loyalty to the people.
Theseus and Katniss both exemplify extraordinary elflessness by volunteering their lives in place for others. While Katniss volunteers for the games in place of her sister, Theseus volunteers his life for his companions. Therefore, both displaying incredible loyalty to the ones they care for. “If they will not free my people, I must take the luck of the draw myself, Just like the others”(1 57, “Athens,” Ch. 3). Here, Theseus is viewing several of his men being drawn from the lottery to be taken to Crete where they then have the inevitable fate of being a bull- dancer.
Heroically, Theseus volunteers himself in replacement of one of his ompanions showing true loyalty and devotion for his men. Theseus also gains loyalty from his people and shows his loyalty alike by giving even shares among the men. “. and his men saluted me, when their lots were given them”(110, “Eleusis,” ch. 3). This displayed Theseus’s natural will to do the right thing and his lack of greed, resulting in trust and admiration from his people. Again, confirming him as a hero for possessing such worthy traits. Theseus’s natural moral and care for his people caused him to become a leader; an essential quality in a modern hero.
This is perceived in Katniss by how her rebellious win of the hunger games inspired hope in the people, transforming her into a leader and overall symbol of hope. This leadership caused her followers to be willingly open to drastic change. Similarly, when Theseus becomes king he causes change and alters traditions, “If I kept them together, they would egg each other on. It had become a fashion with them to be Hellene”(85, “Eleusis,” Ch. 2). As Theseus offers change to his companions, they follow eagerly transforming Theseus into a leader of change as well.
Modern day heroes are capable of instilling hope to the people based off their gained trust. Like Katniss, Theseus also inspires hope in the selected bull-dancers in Crete by titling their group “The Cranes,” forming an oath, informing them of their guaranteed three months of training and also advising of the possibility that the bull can tire out. Katniss and Theseus’s admirable capability to lead change demonstrates their bold and noble characteristics confirming their heroism. Lastly, a modern day hero has a gift.
Katniss Everdeen has an exceptional gift with er bow and arrow, while Theseus possesses the supernatural gift of the ability to talk to a god. This extraordinary, rare gift creates a distinct difference from the common person, setting him apart from the rest. Theseus can consult with Poseidon, the God of the sea, on things including life decisions, while the rest cannot. This is seen several times throughout the novel, one example being when he is deciding whether or not to go to Crete with his companions. During this conversation with Poseidon he is able to confidently come to the conclusion that he will go to Crete in honor of Poseidon.
Additionally through Poseidon, Theseus also has the gift to sense earthquakes. This puts Theseus in a position where he can warn others of these natural disasters, making Theseus a definite hero. When comparing the actions and exceptional abilities of the modern day hero Katniss Everdeen to Theseus, many similarities can be seen, thus validating Theseus’s absolute heroism. Theseus unquestionably lives up to the criteria of a modern day hero. He is a man of remarkable moral and leadership. And his leadership doesn’t consist of merely demanding from the sidelines; he goes in and plays the game.