Greek heros killing wild hogs

This meme got recycled a couple of different times. My question is, why was this supposed to be an amazing heroic feat? Granted a big mean wild hog is nothing to underestimate, and they only had bows and spears, but come on: a boar (sometimes a sow) so fierce that it terrorizes the countryside, and requires a full-fledged hero to kill it? Was it supposed to be the size of an elephant or something? Effin’ Hercules is renowned for killing one as one of his twelve labors?

They’re humongous. They fight back. Their bite/goring is particularly nasty and prone to infect. On top of it all, hogs are at least as smart as a dog if not smarter.

The Calydonian boar is another famous mythological boar that seemed to need alot of different people to go hunt for it.

Wild/feral boars have reached a weight of 1,000 pounds. They’re smart. They’re aggressive. They don’t particularly fear human beings in the same way something like a deer wound, so they’ll fight back. They are certainly capable of killing a human being.

Yeah, it’s heroic.

Hercules had to do something even more difficult than killing the boar. He had to bring the boar back to King Eurystheus while it was still alive. Heroes go after boars because they’re scary animals. They might weigh as much as 200+ pounds, have tusks and an unpleasant disposition. Greek heroes weren’t the only ones who went after boards. There are tales of Arthur’s knights going after them from time to time.

Ever seen a boar spear? The cross piece is to prevent the speared boar from running/charging up the shaft trying to get to the hunter. That’s a pretty hardcore critter.

Yeah, wild hogs ain’t no joke.

They weren’t normal wild pigs, either. The Crommyonian Sow (or boar) killed by Theseus laid waste to the land around a village. The Calydonian Boar was hand picked by Artemis as a tool of her revenge against a negligent King and was hunted by a boat load of notable heros, and the heroine Atalanta.

Plus, everybody loves bacon. Surely that’s a factor.

OTOH, on the Discovery show Hogs Gone Wild the three teams of hog-catchers they follow routinely will wade into the scrum of dogs holding a hog they’ve caught and grab the boar’s hind legs to yank it off its feet, then they’ll pin it down and hogtie it. The Texas team, at least, will kill it with a knife thrust if things are going south during that struggle, but they make a point of preferring to take it back to HQ alive for slaughtering.

Sure, killing a hog is hard work, and takes bravery and prowess for an ordinary schmuck. But it still seems out of place for the great Greek heroes. I mean, compare that boar to a lion or the Hydra, and suddenly it seems heavily outclassed.

I notice the Wikipedia article mentions that wild boar are a favorite food of tigers, although even tigers avoid adult males, who have been known to gore tigers to death. And those aren’t even the species that can grow up to 300kg.

So yeah, taking down a particularly large and ornery boar with a bronze spear sounds pretty impressive.

Hercules’s 12 labors got progressively harder as they went on. He captured the boar very early; I think it was second or third. When he brought it back alive he terrified the King who was his “boss” during the whole time and afterwards Hercules was supposed to only come to the city gates. Anyway it was clearly a magic boar and also the big feat was catching it, not overpowering it. I think everybody knew he could outmuscle it but stalking and controlling it without killing it was another matter.

You never heard of Hogzilla?

The what?

And they did it alone. Manly hunting! (grunt!)

not this one I would hope…

Clearly this guy is ready for him.

We’re talking magic pigs. I happened to read a passage last night in Gene Wolfe’s Soldier of Arete where an enemy of Ares appears in the guise of a boar and wreaks havoc in a Thracian palace. The narrator attests that its shoulder was as high as a man’s.

Therefore, magic bacon for everybody. No wonder these guys were famous.

Wild boar are dangerous animals that would have been everywhere in ancient Greece. Lions may have been present during the beginning of the classical period, but would have been at the edge of their range and not very common. So your average Greek would be able to relate to a story of a huge, vicious boar more easily because run-ins with them would have been much more common, whether while working/hunting in the fields and forests, or while buying food at the market.

They have pretty serious tusks, and even non-magical ones are very dangerous.