Percival Jones: A Modern-Day Greek Hero

Ancient Greek mythology continued to influence several works of art centuries later. In my book, “On the Ropes,” I have incorporated several Greek mythology references to many characters in the story. While the period is set in the ’60s, it’s worth mentioning that the Age of Heroes was a time when society was plagued with conflicts and strife yet had great discoveries. With these factors in mind, I feel it’s more than appropriate to set Percival’s tale in the ’60s.

Percival Jones, the protagonist, is more or less the black equivalent of an Ancient Greek hero.

While his name is also a reference to the Arthurian legend, he has some characteristics that share many traits with familiar Greek heroes.

One is his unbelievable talent. Many Ancient Greek heroes are either blessed by the gods or descended from them. Percival is a natural fighter in the ring, lauded for his strategic style. His best performance is drawn out by his trainer Punchy, who resembles Chiron, Jason, and Achilles’ trainer. Their relationship is akin to a father and son, which makes it all the more heartwarming and relevant to many men who grew up without knowing their biological fathers.

Another is his complicated romantic relationships. Many Ancient Greek heroes had relationships outside their marriage. One example is Odysseus, who had relations with women outside his marriage. While Percival is nothing like Odysseus, he has a lover outside his already-complicated relationship. Racine, a white woman with her own painful past, is his stand-in lover. At the same time, he has a complicated relationship with Joleen, the mother of his child.

Last but not least is his series of conflicts. Much like how Hercules had to complete his twelve labors, Percival has to reach certain milestones to realize his dream. As a young and fit black man on the verge of greatness, his journey is similar to the Greeks’ idea of pathos—the experience of virtuous struggle and suffering.

While Ancient Greek heroes have become a staple of courage, leadership, and overcoming odds. They also have another factor that makes their stories immortal—their humanity and flaws despite achieving incredible feats. While there won’t be any newer gods, there will always be a chance for new heroes to arrive.

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