SIMILARITIES BETWEEN SAMSON AND HERCULES
Hercules and Samson share many similarities. They were both born out of unordinary circumstances. Samson was born to a barren woman who was visited by an angel. From conception, Samson was special because he was a Nazirite, or a man dedicated to God that wouldn’t touch strong drink or cut his hair or beard (Newland 109). Hercules was born to Zeus’s mistress Alcmene and was special from birth because of his father, the greatest Greek god. Hercules demonstrated his strength as an infant when he strangled two snakes (“Hercules”). Hercules and Samson had the involvement of gods or a God, which they either inherited or were given certain powers from, in their lives since conception. They were both born into conflict. Samson was born in a time where the Philistines were dominating his homeland of Israel (Newland 109). Hercules was born into a hostile environment, surrounded by Hera’s attempts to kill him (“Hercules”).
Throughout their lives, both Hercules and Samson overcame many obstacles with their great strength. Samson killed thirty Philistines, set 300 foxes on fire in the Philistines’ fields after discovering his wife had been given to another, broke his bonds when captured, and killed 1,000 Philistines with a donkey’s jawbone (Newland 109). Hercules completed 12 challenging labors, rescued the princess of Troy from a sea-monster, and helped Zeus defeat the Giants battling for control of Olympus (“Hercules”). A striking similarity between Samson and Hercules is that they both defeated a lion. Samson used his great strength to kill a lion in Timnah (New American Bible Judges 14:1-6). Hercules killed a lion at the hills of Nemea as one of his 12 labors (“Hercules”).
Hercules and Samson's first marriages both failed After Samson killed 30 Philistines, his father-in-law gave away his wife to another man, thinking from Samson’s rage that he no longer wanted her as a wife (New American Bible Judges 15:1-3). Hera put a spell on Hercules when he was a young adult that made him temporarily crazy, causing him to kill his wife, Megara, and their two kids ("The Life and Times of Hercules"). Samson and Hercules both loved their wives, and the endings to their marriages were very tragic indeed. The two both had strong, dramatic reactions as a result of their grief. Samson, reacting with anger, set 300 foxes on fire in the Philistines’ fields (Newland 109). Hercules, reacting out of guilt and depression, sought out Apollo and asked him to be punished for his crimes (“Hercules”).
Hercules and Samson were both faced with death because of a woman. Delilah found Samson’s weakness and informed the Philistine lords of it, who, once Samson was weakened, gouged out his eyes and captured him. When the Philistine lords were making fun of Samson in their temple, he grasped the middle columns that the temple rested on and pushed with great force, killing himself along with many others (New American Bible Judges 16:22-30). Hercules’s second wife Deianira accidentally poisoned him, causing Hercules to choose death over life and ask his friends to build him a funeral pyre and then light it ("The Life and Times of Hercules"). Hercules and Samson both ultimately chose death over life. Samson gathered the last of his strength to bring the Philistines down, no longer being able to bear their mockery. Hercules could no longer endure the pain the poisoned cloak was causing him, so he favored being burned alive rather than suffer any more.