Study Guide

The Lost Hero Good vs. Evil

By Rick Riordan

Good vs. Evil

"So we call the gods by their Greek names because that's their original form. But saying their Roman aspects are exactly the same—that's not true. In Rome, they became more warlike. They didn't mingle with mortals as much. They were harsher, more powerful — the gods of an empire."

"Like the dark side of the gods?" Annabeth asked.

"Not exactly," Clovis said. "They stood for discipline, honor, strength—" (8.119-121)

The Greek/Roman split is very important for the sequels to The Lost Hero, but this split isn't about good versus evil. Greeks aren't good and Romans aren't bad—they're just different… like apples and oranges, or cats and dogs, or Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, if Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck had superpowers and divine parents.

Piper turned and her heart sank. Jane was marching towards them in her business suit, wobbling over the sand in her high heels, her PDA in hand. The look on her face was partly annoyed, partly triumphant, and Piper knew she'd been in touch with the police. (9.33)

Jane, Piper's dad's secretary, is really annoying and Piper hates her. Later on, when we find out that Jane is actually evil, Piper is quite satisfied (okay, we are too… how about you?).

"Be careful, pretty girl," Zethes said. "The winds between here and Chicago are bad-tempered. Many other evil things are stirring. I am sorry you will not be staying. You would make a lovely ice statue, in which I could check my reflection." (20.129)

Though there are some evil-evil monsters and villains, there are also dangerous, semi-evil folks like Zethes. He's pretty evil—he wants to kill people all the time—but on the other hand, he seems to have some sympathy for the heroes. Freezing them into ice statues sounds almost like an affectionate gesture. He's not bad, just a little confused… and somewhat bad, too.

"Bah!" Medea sneered. (28.129)

You can tell Medea is evil because she says "Bah!" That's what all the evil masterminds say.

The king smiled. Suddenly he didn't strike Jason as a harmless old man in a bathrobe. His eyes had a merry glow to them—the look of a madman who knew he was mad, accepted his madness, and enjoyed it. (32.75)

Midas is kind of like the Joker—he's crazy, and happy to be so because he likes evilness. In real life, there aren't too many people who think of themselves as evil and are happy about it, but in fiction it makes for a good super villain.

"That's awful!" Piper had said. "He let his wife die?"

Her dad spread his hands. "It was a hard sacrifice. But one life brought generations of peace between snakes and Cherokee." (33.77-78)

Piper's dad is telling her a Cherokee story about a man who sacrificed his wife in order to make peace between snakes and Cherokee. Her dad seems to think this is reasonable, but… did the guy ask his wife? It seems like people should get to make their own sacrifices, rather than have other folks make those decisions for them. Good and evil here seem somewhat confused.

Enceladus roared with laughter. "I've forgotten how funny satyrs are. When we rule the world, I think I'll keep your kind around. You can entertain me while I eat all the other mortals." (42.8)

Enceladus does a lot of evil boasting, but this is one of his best efforts. Lex Luthor would be impressed.

[…] Piper felt miserable. She didn't want to twist people's minds, convince them of things they didn't believe. It felt so bossy, so wrong—like something Drew would do back at camp, or Medea in her evil department store. (45.15)

It's interesting that the persuasion power is the thing that raises questions of good and evil rather than, for example, the fact that Jason keeps hitting things with his sword. In part, that's because Jason stabs monsters, and monsters don't die permanently. Still, that just underlines the point—the morality of the book is set up such that fighting has no moral downside, while negotiating is seen as creepy and perhaps evil. Shouldn't it be the other way around?

"You could join me, son of Hephaestus," Khione said. "I know you find me beautiful. It would be enough for my plan if these other two were to die. Reject that ridiculous destiny the Fates have given you. Live and be my champion, instead." (49.26)

Khione gets to be the evil sexy villainess. She's not all that good at it, though—her evil is too obvious. She'd need to be a bit sneakier to get Leo to think she actually liked him. Evil is eviler when it's not quite so obviously evil.

He watched as Hera turned into a supernova, exploding in a ring of force that vaporized every monster instantly. Jason fell, light searing into his mind, and his last through was that his body was burning. (50.91)

Hera zaps all the monsters and purifies the battlefield, but she also almost kills Jason. You could argue that this shows that too much good is dangerous—or maybe that Hera is not good, but just powerful. Or just that Hera is a jerk.

This is a premium product

Tired of ads?

Join today and never see them again.

Please Wait...