A Classicist Reacts to Disney’s Hercules

Classics graduate student Laura shares her thoughts on a popular animated take on a Greek myth.


I have to preface this with the fact that I ADORE this movie. ADORE it. I have a BA in Classics and I’m currently doing my MA in Classics, and literally nothing beats this movie. Not even the wild inaccuracies. 

  1. My first thought every time I watch this movie is that the music is INCREDIBLE. Like, excuse me, but the score is AMAZING. However, it’s not really accurate and there were quite a few liberties taken with the myth when writing this script. 

  2. THE MUSES are AMAZING and I really like how they started off the movie with an introduction in the form of Greek vase paintings. The Greeks used vase paintings to tell stories so I love how they animated it and used it to introduce the myth. hercules-1.gif
  3. I don’t understand why he is called Hercules even though this is following Greek mythology. In Greek mythology his name is Herakles; Hercules is the Roman name. It’s a bit strange since everything else in this movie is from Greek mythology. 

  4. As I mentioned before, this movie is quite far off the myth… I love how they don’t talk about why Hercules ACTUALLY has to do the tasks… but it’s a kids movie, and talking about all the *things* Zeus and Hera get up to (like cursing people) is probably not appropriate. 

  5. Hades is my favourite character ever. Literally ever. I quote him all the time. I love the depiction. Honestly, this is how I picture Hades in all my classes now. 
  6. Sometimes I wonder what the pitch meeting for this movie was like. Like, who thought Hercules was a good movie to make for kids? And what was the reaction when it was pitched? I imagine something like: “Yeah okay, but like, we’ll have to rewrite the entire myth, you know that, right?”

  7. “Somebody call IXII!” is probably the best joke in the entire movie. I absolutely died laughing. For those who don’t know, IXII are the Roman numerals for 911.
  8. Okay this joke is also amazing:
    The house of Oedipus is NOTIOURSLEY cursed in Greek mythology. You’ve probably heard of Oedipus yourself, but he’s not the only one who struggled in his family line. In fact, there are several plays written about his ancestors. Also, I love the context of this joke and the fact that it seems they just left a theatre on a date. Amazing. Definitely not what happened in the actual myth, but I still love it.

  9. I like that Hercules gets a happy ending in this story. In the actual myth he dies (not during the 12 labours, but later on) so I honestly like where they ended this movie. It is interesting to note that Heracles does become a god in the end!
  10. I’ve got to say, not a ton of this movie actually follows the Greek myth, but clearly the writers did a lot of research. Hercules does do the tasks, but for a much different reason that this movie shows. Also, Hercules is not the child of Hera and Zeus, but he is a demigod and Zeus is his father. The jokes are all very well done, clearly they knew the myth well and the choices they made were consistent with introducing kids to greek mythology. The real myth is DEFINITELY not appropriate for young kids, but I think this movie does a great job at introducing mythology. It’s definitely one of the things that sparked my own interest in the field (this and Percy Jackson) so I absolutely love it, and I’m happy that people today are still watching it! 

This movie is amazing. If you’re done finals and looking for something to watch as you unwind, this is what I recommend!