Allusions to Greek Mythology in Zhang Yimou’s *Hero*

Zhang Yimou’s wuxia epic, Hero, draws parallels between a fictionalized conflict in Zhou-dynasty China and the Orion myth. 

Nameless: The orphaned wuxia master, who attempts, then thwarts, the assassination of Qin Shihuangdi. 

Emperor Qin is a composite expy of  Zeus and of Onopion: Merope’s father and Orion’s father-in-law.

Flying Snow and Broken Sword: wuxia champions, former classmates, trained assassins, lovers pitted against each other. Emperor Qin assassinates Snow’s father, prompting Snow to seek revenge and to accuse Sword of betrayal for vetoing her plans.  Their mythical counterparts are Artemis and Orion: hunting partners and platonic, star-crossed lovers. 

Long Sky, a gifted fighter, is a rival of Sword’s and a former fling of Snow’s. His role could compare to Apollo’s, Artemis’ overzealous brother. Whether or not he had incestuous feelings for Artemis, Apollo did everything in his power to prevent her and Orion from consummating. 

Moon: a devoted servant and pupil of Nameless’. Sword rapes her in retaliation for Snow’s affair with Sky. Consequently, Orion is engaged to, and rapes, Merope out of frustration over Artemis’ withholding her love. 

Snow instigates a duel, as Sword continues to refute her plans to avenge her father’s death. Sword willingly yields, and Snow subsequently takes her own life. Artemis slays Orion, after mistaking him for an intruder. Although she doesn’t follow her lover, she posthumously grants him a spot on Olympus. 

Emperor Qin learns from Nameless his machinations to destroy the three assassins, before they’re able to carry out their coup. Onopion blinds Orion after learning of his misconduct with his daughter Merope. Upon hearing what is ultimately a confession of contemplating murder, Emperor Qin orders Nameless’ execution but grants a heroic burial.