Hercules, Beowulf, King Arthur, and Thor are all pretty badass ancient warriors, except they never existed. Real life heroes from the olden times sadly do not get the exposure and recognition they rightfully deserve. Lucky for you, you’re going to introduce and honor a bunch of them right now.
10. Moses (Israel)
Many of us know who Moses is—the great man of God famous for parting the Red Sea and casting plagues on Egypt. However, what many of us don’t know and realize is that Moses is actually a badass epic hero. He is certainly a hero for the Christian faith but, most importantly, for the Jewish people.
Moses showed the world that everyone deserves to be free; he was the first man who fought against slavery. Though Moses was an Egyptian prince, he left his comfortable life to be with his people. He sacrificed so much for the Israelites. He fought for them and led them out of Egypt. It’s safe to say that without him, the nation of Israel might have never existed.
Furthermore, what makes Moses even more badass is that he bravely liberated and led his people to the Promised Land despite the fact that he was a stutterer. Yes, Moses had a speaking disability, but that didn’t hinder him from becoming one of the world’s most badass leaders.
9. Rana Kumbha (India)
India has many great heroes, but one man in particular stands above them all: Rana Khumba. This badass hero showed the world that music, art, and anything beautiful in life can exist even amongst war and violence. Khumba was a great warrior and leader who ruled the Hindu state of Mewar during the 13th century. He protected his kingdom and most importantly, his people from getting invaded and destroyed by the Muslims.
Alauddin Khilji was Khumba’s archenemy. He was a great Muslim leader and warrior too, but he never succeeded in defeating Khumba. In fact, no one succeeded in defeating Khumba in battle, earning him the reputation as “the king who never lost a battle”. That’s how badass of a hero he is.
Though he was a superb warrior, Khuma didn’t devote most of his life to fighting. He was actually a musical genius and a scholar. He loved learning, and worked hard to preserve the Indian culture, especially Indian classical music. Aside from that, he also commissioned the construction of many beautiful Indian temples and monuments, such as the famous Vijay Stambha.
8. Lapu-Lapu (Philippines)
You’re likely familiar with Ferdinand Magellan—the Portuguese explorer who is considered as the first man to have sailed around the world. However, you might not have known that Magellan didn’t actually finish the voyage. He never made it back to Spain because he was killed by Lapu-Lapu during his short stay in the Philippines.
Lapu-Lapu is considered by the Filipino people to be their first badass hero. He was a fearless tribal leader who fought for the freedom of his people. He refused to succumb to the invading Spaniards, even though neighboring tribes had already surrendered and agreed to become subjects of the Spanish king. He resisted the foreign invasion and fought hard for his people’s freedom. In a battle held at the island of Mactan, Lapu-Lapu killed Magellan.
7. Yu The Great (China)
A person doesn’t need to be a warrior to become a badass hero. Take, for example, Yu the Great. Yu was not a bloodthirsty warrior, but he is considered by many as a badass hero for making a significant impact in Chinese history.
The title “the Great” was added to Yu’s name after he successfully solved one of ancient China’s big problems—flooding. In ancient times, China was plagued with heavy floods. Yu’s father, Gun, successfully solved this problem, but after nine years, his method of controlling the floods no longer worked. Yu succeeded Gun and, learning from his experiences, Yu created his own method. It was an uphill battle for Yu. He faced a lot of challenges, but all of his hard work and sacrifices eventually paid off. After thirteen years, he finally succeeded in controlling the floods.
In addition, Yu the Great is credited for developing agriculture in ancient China. Not only did he and his son teach the people how to plant crops, they also helped them breed geese, ducks, and fish. With Yu the Great’s leadership, the ancient Chinese lived happy and prosperous lives.
6. Narmer (Egypt)
Among the badass heroes discussed in this list, Narmer is perhaps the most controversial. Why? Well, some experts believe that he and Menes—a great Egyptian Pharaoh—are one. Others, on the other hand, argue that he did not exist at all, and that he was just an ancient mythical figure.
Most of the information we know about Narmer comes from the Narmer Palette, which was discovered by British archaeologists, Frederick Green and James Quibell, in 1897 at Hierakonpolis. This artifact disproved the widely-known fact that Menes united Egypt. According to the Narmer Palette, it was Narmer who united the two kingdoms of Egypt — Upper and Lower Egypt. This discovery led many experts to assume that Menes and Narmer refer to the same person, though no evidence has been unearthed to prove this theory.
So why is he a badass hero? Narmer is considered as the first king, or pharaoh, of Egypt. He might not be known for his victories in battle, but he laid the foundation of the Egyptian civilization we know today. If he did not unite the two kingdoms, the spectacular architectural wonders that we see in Egypt, such as the Pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx, might have never been built.
5. Pericles (Greece)
Pericles might not be as strong as Hercules, but he still became a badass hero. It wasn’t because of his numerous victories in battle though, but because of his great contribution to the Greek civilization and to the world.
Pericles transformed the ancient city of Athens aesthetically. Under his leadership, he greatly beautified Athens, commissioning the construction of many breathtaking monuments and buildings, and improved the lives of the ancient Athenians, passing laws that favored the ordinary citizens. His reign is called the “Age of Pericles”, and it was characterized by the flourishing of culture, arts, education and, most importantly, democracy. Also, he made Athens a haven where playwrights, poets, architects, sculptors, philosophers, and artists can thrive. This man was so great he was declared by Thucydides to be “the first citizen of Athens”.
But perhaps the greatest contribution that Pericles gave to the world was the construction of the Acropolis where the magnificent Parthenon is located. Without him, the world might have never witnessed the splendor of these two remarkable monuments.
4. Caractacus (United Kingdom)
Also known by the names Caradoc and Caratacus, Caractacus is considered as the first hero of Britain. He was a brave and fierce tribal leader who fought for the freedom of his people. At the time, the Roman Empire was invading Great Britain; many tribal leaders have already succumbed to the Romans, but Caractacus refused to surrender.
For nine long years, Caractacus, together with his band of fearless men, fought valiantly to preserve their freedom. This badass hero experienced several defeats, but that didn’t stop him from continuing the resistance. He fought hard with all of his heart and might for the freedom of his countrymen. Though he was defeated at the hands of Ostorious Scapula, a Roman governor, his name became a legend. He showed the Roman Empire that the Britons were brave, fearless, and not an easy people to conquer.
After his defeat, he was brought to Rome together with his family. There, he gave a remarkable speech that miraculously convinced the Emperor to spare his life. The Emperor ordered Caractacus spared, allowing him to live the rest of his life peacefully in Rome.
3. Queen Seondeok (Korea)
Queen Seondeok of Korea is one of the most badass female heroes of ancient times. She was the queen of the Silla Kingdom, and the first female ruler of Korea. It was not uncommon for Korean women during this time to gain immense power and become rulers. However, they only ruled as queen dowagers or as queen regents.
Queen Seondeok made history by becoming the first female to succeed the king as ruler. At a very young age, Queen Seondeok already showed great intellectual prowess. As such, it was not surprising for her father, King Jinpyeong, to choose her to become his successor. Queen Seondeok became the 27th ruler of the Silla Kingdom at the age of 26. Though she was very young, she succeeded in protecting her people and preserving her kingdom during a period characterized by violence and war.
Queen Seondeok was a good diplomat too. She succeeded in establishing a strong alliance with China, which helped in preventing Korea’s two other kingdoms—Goguryeo and Baekje—from attacking her people and land. Moreover, one of Queen Seondeok’s greatest achievements was the construction of the “Star-Gazing Tower”, which is considered the world’s oldest astronomical observatory.
2. Khosrau I (Iran)
Khosrau I is more popularly known as Anushirvan The Just. He was a great king who ruled the Sassanid Empire from 531 to 579 AD. There’s a reason why they called him “The Just”. He was a fair and righteous leader who ruled his kingdom mightily. For his people, Khosrau I was a badass hero who brought them unprecedented prosperity and development.
Khosrau I was a very wise king. He commissioned the construction of many spectacular palaces and cities, he had the trade roads repaired, and he built new dams and bridges. Aside from that, he introduced a taxation system that was rational and fair. In addition, Khosrau I was a tolerant leader. Though he was a strict follower of Zoroastrianism, he didn’t persecute the Christians. He was open-minded and respectful of other people’s spiritual beliefs. Also, it was during his reign that the world’s first medical university, Gondi Shapur University, was founded. Khosrau I was such as badass hero that he became the symbol of justice, and is still that way to this day.
1. Cinncinatus (Italy)
Considered the “Savior of the Roman Republic”, Cincinnatus was a badass hero who exemplified the true qualities of a great leader—humility and selflessness. Cincinnatus was a wealthy nobleman, but he became a poor farmer after his son, Caeso, was involved in a crime. Though poor, he was respected by the Romans. When Rome was in crisis, he was elected by the Senate to be their dictator. Using his authority and power as dictator, he restored peace and order in Rome. The Senate wanted Cincinnatus to serve as dictator for another term, but surprisingly he refused, saying that re-electing him was against Roman laws.
Many years later, Rome was in crisis again. This time they were attacked by the Aequi. Once more, Cincinnatus was called and elected as dictator. With his might and ingenuity, Cincinnatus led the Romans to victory, which prompted the Roman people to ask Cincinnatus to become their king. However, Cincinnatus humbly refused and, surprisingly, chose to go back to his farm.
Cincinnatus truly is a badass hero. He was a great leader who didn’t allow power and wealth to corrupt him. He was ready to serve his people when they needed him, and he was more than willing to give up his power when the threat was over.