Samson V. Hercules: A Biblical Allusion Through a Disney Classic and Greek Mythology

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Most people have heard of the epic story of Samson, and his love Delilah. They are two of the many great Biblical figures. Another thing most people have some form of knowledge of, is Hercules. In 1997, Walt Disney Productions released their animated classic, “Hercules”. While I was reading Judges, a particular passage stood out to me:

Some time later, he fell in love with a woman in the Valley of Sorek whose name was Delilah.  The rulers of the Philistines went to her and said, “See if you can lure him into showing you the secret of his great strength and how we can overpower him so we may tie him up and subdue him. Each one of us will give you eleven hundred shekels[a] of silver.”–Judges 16:4-5

The first thing that I thought of was Hercules. The traditional mythology story of Hercules is very similar to that of Samson’s. The stories resemble in the manner of the protagonist, for example: women, self indulging, ect. However, the story shows more similarity to me with Disney’s version of Hercules than the mythological story line. However, they both show signs of Biblical influence.

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Disney gives us an array of characters, two of them being Hercules and Megara. Megara is actually part of Greek mythology, but the Megara from Greek Mythology is a lot different than the Disney version. Disney’s version of Megara is clearly based more on the Biblical Delilah. In Disney’s story, Hercules is tricked by this beautiful woman to fall in love with her. Hades sends her to fall in love with Hercules and find out his weakness.  They quickly find out, she is his weakness. As we see in Judges, Delilah is sent to trick Samson to gain the knowledge of his strength.

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So, Hades represents the rulers of the Philistines. This would make sense on Disney trying to use as many Greek mythological characters as possible however, it also shows why Disney is following the Bible route in making their film. Since the Philistines can be seen as a deadly horrifying group of people in the Bible, there is no wonder why Disney chose the evil ruler of the Underworld to portray them. Greek mythology is made up of many characters and it would be difficult to incorporate all of their traits correctly into a movie for a child. Even though Disney adds a special twist to their version of the Greek myth, the similarities that it shows to the Bible is very noticeable.

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Now, another reference I found within in the story of Samson, is the Philistines. One of the main characters in Disney’s version of Hercules is named Phil. However, this character could have also came from the Greek mythological character, Philoctetes.

It is very possible that the Greeks and Romans heard the story of Samson and retold it to fit their beliefs. So, the story of Samson could have a double impact on the Disney classic.

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Now, it is time for the obvious character representation, Samson and Hercules. The Greek Hercules is actually more similar than the Disney Hercules. As I mentioned prior, they held a lot of the same characteristics and wants. Since they both were obvious womanizers, it is very simple for the antagonist to send a decoy woman to find out their secrets.

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Both strong and courageous, it is very clear why the “said” villain/s would want them out of the way. Also, in the Disney version of Hercules and the mythological version, we see a set of three characters presented, the Fate sisters. They basically control everyone’s “fate”. This is nothing special, but how they control it is. They use string or thread, depending on the version you are looking at. This is very similar to how Samson was telling Delilah to tie his hair into threads.

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So, this shows us that both stories are somewhat related to the Samson of Judges. Disney adaptation of the epic is more similar because they altered their characters and by doing that, they made it resemble the Old Testament more than Greek Mythology. Samson and Hercules are one in the same and both are considered heroes. Luckily for Disney’s Hercules, he ends up with the girl.

Here are some links to the Greek mythology stories that I mentioned above, if anyone is interested in reading them.

http://www.greekmythology.com/Olympians/Hades/hades.html

http://www.greekmythology.com/Other_Gods/The_Fates/the_fates.html

http://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/Heroes/Heracles/heracles.html

http://www.mythindex.com/greek-mythology/P/Philoctetes.html

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