One of them main themes within christianity is the idea of self-sacrifice: Jesus is said to have accepted crucification in order to save mankind. In contrast, in older mythologies, like the greek, the hero stories (Heracles, Perseus, Theseus) revolve more around strength and courage, sometimes cunning.

What are the most famous greek myths about self-sacrifice in order to save or help others?

  • You could think of Heracles burning him self alive as self-sacrifice, although that was more "Ah, I'm in so much pain but it'll take way too long to die of centaur's blood poisoning, so I'll just self-immolate." – 267126 Mar 25 at 16:51
  • I am more interested in self-sacrifice to help others, not as an act of despair or bravado – Marcel Mar 25 at 17:31
  • Do you mean Greek Myths that are 'like' the Jesus/Christian narrative? The notion of heroic deeds was based on winning fame and glory and honour above all else, (aided by gods) rather than on self-sacrifice and altruism (e.g. biologist George R. Price). Though, arguably Perseus did 'save' people and humanity from danger. The Christian narrative of Jesus Christ is that he was crucified and resurrected to save mankind from sin (in general). From the Roman perspective, as Prof. Beard says, Jesus was seen as just another criminal. – Dylan yesterday
  • Prometheus defied Zeus in order to benefit humanity, and was punished harshly for it (Aeschylus' Prometheus Bound)
  • Alcestis offered her life to save her husband's (Euripides' Alcestis)
  • Iphigenia allowed herself be sacrificed by her father (Euripides' Iphigenia in Aulis)
  • Could Pericles be considered as someone who, aided by the (Goddess Athena), led the Greeks to salvation (narrative) through his contribution to early Greek democracy and therefore culture, leading to the golden age of Greek culture and consequently greater prosperity (albeit for the few)? – Dylan yesterday
  • @Dylan I don't see how Pericles' life could be reasonably seen as centered on self-sacrifice, even if we were to stretch the definition of a "Greek myth" enough to include him – b a yesterday
  • Yes, I see. Greek Myths rather than instances containing myths, i.e. Prometheus (pure myth) vs. Pericles (aided by a Goddess). Pericles is an actual historical figure, as was Jesus. I just drew the parallel between the Christian narrative of God and Jesus, and Pericles and Athena. Though Pericles believed that the Greeks 'should have freedom from Tyranny', however unlike Prometheus, there is no defining moment of self-sacrifice. But Prometheus was punished by a god (Zeus), Jesus was not, only punished by a Roman culture that wanted to preserve their pantheon. – Dylan yesterday

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