The Story of the Labors of Hercules as an Exemplum of Contemporary Modern Works of Art

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In the pre-technological period, oral folktales, myths, and fables were the primary means of transmitting knowledge. Currently, a plethora of other methods for accomplishing the same goal has been created. The only distinction is that these methods have a more long-lasting impact and are not corrupted in the way. Regardless of the manner of transformation from one century to the next, the morals remain the same. With this in mind and with a view of the Story of the Twelve Labors of Hercules a modern-day contemporary exemplum is found in ‘The 100 Good Deeds for Eddie McDowd'. Hercules was the son of Zeus the great god of Greece. However, his mother was a mere mortal. This meant that unlike other gods he had some vulnerabilities. The goddess Hera had such a big disliking towards Hercules since she saw the affection given to him by Zeus. Many times she conjured schemes to kill him even when he was a little boy. As a result, his father sent him into hiding to live with a mortal family where Hera couldn’t find him. All the while growing up he did not fit in the human helm so after a series of struggles he joined the gods in his rightful place (Shmoop).
Hera’s hatred grew and as a result, she made him go insane. He then performed the most heinous act of killing his family in his madness-stricken state. In the eyes of the gods, this did not earn him many favors. In return, he lost the kingdom and royal seat that was to be bestowed upon him by Zeus. In his place, Eurystheus was made king instead. Hercules later regained his sanity and was very remorseful about his actions. To redeem himself and gain immortality he was made to serve Eurystheus by the god Apollo so as to redeem himself.
He was given 12, in some legends 14 labors to do because Eurystheus refused to acknowledge to of the labors claiming that Hercules had received help. These were heroic acts that proved him worthy of the god status and would eventually lead to his immortality and his name sang and praised by all. He had to perform many chores. Some were dangerous like fighting monstrous beasts such as the Nemean lion and the Lenean hydra. However, in his chores, he saved the afflicted and was made into a better person and gained redemption for his misgivings (Shmoop).
The contemporary work of art that will be covered here is a Television series called ‘The 100 Good Deeds for Eddie McDowd. It is an American television comedy created by Steven H. Berman, Mitchel Katlin, and Nat Bernstein for Nickelodeon. It ran for three seasons. Its production was halted in 2002.
A typical teenager Eddie is vain powerful and boisterous. He is crowned the schoolyard bully and all cave at his might. He makes the life of another young boy, Justin Taylor miserable. He, however, has no remorse for his wrongdoings and sees them as nothing but a showcase of power. He also bullies a host of other boys mercilessly. As punishment for his bad deeds, a man only known as The Drifter transforms Eddie into a Siberian husky/ Australian Shepherd mix dog (Fandom).
The only way he would be turned back into a boy was by performing one hundred acts of benevolence. He meets this challenge with a lot of protests and wants to be turned back into a boy without much work claiming that he was sorry for all the vices he had committed. On the contrary, The Drifter stuck to his guns and said the only way he would be turned back was through the acts of kindness.
In his aid was the last boy he had put through his mistreatment and bullying. This boy was Jason Taylor. Apart from The Drifter, he was the only other person who heard what he was saying. Together they embarked on an adventurous journey that changed both their lives, despite them not being able to remember the events after their journey was completed (Fandom).
In so many ways the story of Eddie McDowd is like Hercules. Both are summoned to perform various tasks by a person far much stronger than them. In the case of Eddie it is the Drifter and in that of Hercules, it is the god Apollo. All the deeds they do are in search of retribution. Hercules is seeking forgiveness for killing his family and to gain immortality while Eddie tries to return to his normal form and seek redemption for his bullying. Both receive assistance in their quest. The gods are kind to Hercules. Because of this, he is able to accomplish his tasks. For a helper, the Drifter gives Eddie Justin and together they help Eddie with his task. Both tasks enable the two men to gain back a good reputation and changed their lives for the better.
The two stories share the ground of accomplishing certain tasks and moral obligations to be able to gain redemption. They emphasize that one has to be good natured lest they get punished for their flaws. It also teaches that one should take punishments when justly accorded with zeal and do them with an aim of making themselves better people no matter how hard the tasks actually are.
The story of Eddie McDowd is a modern contemporary exemplum of the labors of Hercules. Though in the form of a movie and the other was passed down orally until it was written down both emphasize on character building. Both have the same moral lessons that the good will always prevail and the world will open doors for them and they will be triumphant.
Because of this children are encouraged to be better people and shun some vices. They are also taught to always lend a helping hand to those in need of it.

Works Cited

Fandom, Staff. "The 100 Good Deeds For Eddie McDowd." 2 12 2003. Fandom. Website. 06 03 2017.
Shmoop, Editorial Team. "Heracles: The Twelve Labors." 11 11 2008. Shmoop. Shmoop University, Inc. 06 03 2017.

May 04, 2022

Literature Sociology


Greek Mythology

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Hercules Myths Generation

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