Epic heroes from literature, who were more courageous and powerful than ordinary mortals, include Achilles, Perseus, Hercules, Odysseus and Beowulf. Achilles led the Greek army to success during the Trojan War to reclaim Helen for his brother Menelaus. Perseus, son of a mortal woman and the king of the Greek gods, Zeus, managed to beheaded Medusa, the Gorgon with snakes for hair. Anyone viewing her head turned to stone.
Another son of Zeus, Hercules, was exceptionally strong and completed many demanding feats, including defeating a lion that was resistant to arrows and clubs. Unfortunately, Hercules was also driven mad by his father's wife Hera, who caused him to murder his children.
The story of the Greek epic hero Odysseus is related in Homer's poem, "The Odyssey." Odysseus was the mastermind behind the Trojan horse that brought an end to the Trojan War. After the 10-year war, it took the hero another decade to return home because the sea god Poseidon punished Odysseus for blinding the god's son, the Cyclops Polyphemus.
Beowulf is the subject of a story from 8th-century Britain. This Scandinavian hero defeated three monsters, including the massive Grendel and his mother. At the end of his life, Beowulf faced a fire-breathing dragon. Though he killed the beast, he died after the battle.