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Top 10 Best Legendary Warriors

Written by Top 100 Arena on 2012-05-31
Mythology has its basis in reality.  The events that made the following ten people famous probably actually happened and the tales of them were collected under one figure so exemplary that the stories became attributed to them instead.  These men have collected around them tales so legendary that we remember them in our holy books and our earliest literature.  Whether they existed or were just amalgams of other tales, the following men have become immortal for their legendary fighting ability.

10Roland


Roland might just be one of the most famous warriors you have never heard of. A military governor under Charlemagne, this Frankish warrior's real-life heroics pale in comparison to the legendary tales that flourished during the Middle Ages. Roland became a "pop icon" to minstrels all across Europe, and his fictionalized deeds painted him as the first "Paladin", a holy warrior who stood fast defending the Holy Christian Empire of Charlemagne against early Islamic forces. With his sword Durandal, he vanquished foes far and wide, before his epic death against impossible odds. While his fame is no longer as great, his impact on history as an inspiration for Knight Errantry cannot be denied. Without Roland, the very concept of "Paladin" might not exist. Read more on Wikipedia

9 Sigurd


Sigurd was such a badass that he got his sword when he was born in the form of the fragments of his father’s sword.  These fragments and his warrior prowess made Sigurd the very first dragon-slayer.  When bad guy Fafnir kills a couple of his fellow Aesir and steals their gold, Sigurd is sent to dispatch the nasty demi-god.  In the classic image, Fafnir has turned himself into a dragon and is sitting atop the gold when Sigurd finds him.  The two have an epic battle, in which Sigurd breaks two swords, but the remnants of his father’s sword, reforged into the weapon Gram, finally saves the day.  Stories vary on Sigurd, who was also called Siegfried or Sivard, but when tough guys like the Vikings count you as one of their top warriors, you best be on this list. Read more on Wikipedia

8 Cu Chulainn


His name means “hound of Chulainn,” and he was so called because as a child he accidentally killed a guard dog belonging to his local smith.  So he did what any great warrior-to-be would do and stood in for the guard dog until a replacement could be found.  And that was just his childhood.  From there, Cu Chulainn studied with Scathach, a renowned warrior-woman of his day, and to top it off, did it so he could marry his love, Emer.  But Cu Chulainn’s real shining moment came during the Cattle Raids of Cooley, during which the forces of Connaught invaded Ulster for the most prized possession any Irishman could have had in that era, cows.  Single-handedly, he defended the land and cattle in a frenzy that killed hundreds of men.  Like most legendary heroes, Cu Chulainn has a god for a father and a king for an uncle, making him a perfect candidate for this list. Read more on Wikipedia

7Beowulf


The legend of Beowulf was preserved as a poem sometime between the 8th and 11th centuries, but a fire destroyed some of that poem, so there are things about this hero we will never know.  What we do know is that Beowulf was commissioned by a king named Hrodgar to dispatch of an evil creature named Grendel from his mead-hall, Heorot.  The poem states that Beowulf chose not to wield a sword or other weapon because Grendel wasn’t using one and to employ one would have been an unfair advantage.  Beowulf of course wouldn’t be famous if he hadn’t won against Grendel, but this brought out Grendel’s mother, a woman so fierce she made Grendel look like just another troll.  In fact, Beowulf goes through two swords, one of them magical, trying to defeat her, but eventually beheads her and prevails.  Fifty years later, as king of Geatland in modern-day Sweden, Beowulf faces a dragon, who he defeats, but he is mortally wounded in the process.  As one of the early heroes of Western culture, Beowulf’s reputation as a renowned warrior and monster-slayer earned him a spot on this list. Read more on Wikipedia

6 Boudica


As the sole female on this list, you got to figure this girl was a real badass. When her father, a subordinate king to the Roman Empire, died, he left his kingdom to his daughter, and Rome. Rome naturally took this to mean that they owned the kingdom, as well as Boudica. She of course took offense to being flogged, raped and impoverished as Rome made itself comfy. So she led a revolt that nearly drove the Romans out of Britain, burned Londonium to the ground, and wiped out most of an entire legion. Nero was nearly forced to withdraw entirely from the Isles before she was finally defeated at the Battle of Watling Street. Despite this defeat, Boudica continues to be a cultural symbol of the British people, and a strong role model for all women fighting for the right to independence.  Probably the most badass thing about Boudica, though, is that we owe our knowledge of her today solely to the writings of the Romans.  We all know history is written by the victor, but Boudica was such a powerful and legendary figure even the Romans couldn’t help but admire her. Read more on Wikipedia

5 Achilles


Anyone who’s seen Troy knows the story of Achilles, or part of it anyway.  Legend holds that he was born to the goddess Thetis, who tried to make him immortal by holding his infant body over a holy fire, which strengthened all of his skin so it could never be pierced by a weapon.  However, she had to hold him by the heel, leaving that one part of him vulnerable to attack.  Achilles went on to make such a name for himself that this story became attributed to him.  A leader in the Trojan War, he was famous for his anger, which led to the deaths of many of his contemporaries.  One famous story holds that he killed a warrior and prince of Troy named Hector, who murdered his closest advisor, and dragged Hector’s body around by a chariot in a public spectacle.  According to legend, Achilles was killed in the Trojan War by an arrow to the heel from the bow of Paris, Hector’s brother and kidnapper of its most famous beauty, Helen.  Achilles is likely to have existed historically, but these tales of him made him one of our legendary warriors. Read more on Wikipedia

4David


While actual proof of David's existence is lacking, there can be no doubt that this shepherd-turned-king is one of the most famous warriors in history. He is the quintessential underdog, the average man faced by the most extraordinary challenges who nonetheless emerges victorious. From the moment Samuel anoints him, until he becomes king, David is a figure of bravery par excellance. When the entire Israeli army shivers in fear at the thought of facing Goliath, David alone has the courage to face him. As a commander in the same army, he wins victory after victory to the point that Saul begins to plot against him, yet each attempt fails due to David's cleverness and skill at arms, making him ever more a hero to the Israelites. And when Saul finally sends a hit squad to kill him, he turns Robin Hood and champions the oppressed against the corrupt king. As a shepherd first, and a warrior second, he stands alone as merely human, sustained only by faith, and not by magic swords or divine blood. Read more on Wikipedia

3 Lancelot du Lac


The origins of Sir Lancelot are mysterious and shrouded in legends that have to do with an infant being kidnapped and raised by a water fairy who lived in a lake.  All we know is that he appears to defend Queen Guinevere and become one of King Arthur’s closest friends and champions.  Arthur himself was likely a Welsh war chieftain who was celebrated enough to have a rather large group of Welsh and British folk tales attributed to him and his knights, but of them, Lancelot is the most prominent warrior.  Tales of his exploits range from duels against great foes to his role in the search for the Holy Grail.  He is most famous for championing the queen he loved, Guinevere, who he would eventually have an affair with, in one of the most romantic stories in Western antiquity.  Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley, is a re-telling of the Arthur story from the point of view of three of its women, one of those being Guinevere.  Bradley does an excellent job through Guinevere’s eyes of portraying this early superhero in all his warrior glory.  If you’re wondering why Arthur himself is not on this list, it’s because Lancelot is such utter pwnage compared to him that it’s a good thing the two were friends, or we’d probably be telling stories of Lancelot’s Knights of the Round Table instead of Arthur’s.  Like the heroes who were peers of Achilles, Arthur and the other Knights were awesome warriors as well, but Lancelot stands above them in prowess and skill. Read more on Wikipedia

2 Gilgamesh


All that is known about Gilgamesh is fragmentary. That he existed is likely, as we have discovered sufficient corroborating evidence to show this, but whether he was indeed 2/3rds god as claimed in the Epic of Gilgamesh is open for debate. As the earliest known "superhero", Gilgamesh set the standard for all others. He was strong as an ox, could outthink the gods themselves, and had a giant for a best friend. As king, he built the city walls of Uruk to defend it against all external threats, tamed the giant bull-man Enkidu by having a prostitute seduce him, and traveled to the lands of the God's to consult Utnapishtim, the Sumerian Noah. While later "Demigods" might have more fabulous stories and feats attributed to them, there can be no doubt that Gilgamesh was first, and that everyone else was an "also ran.". Read more on Wikipedia

Wong Fei-Hung


To be at the top of this list, you really have to be impressive, and that defines Wong Fei-hung in a nutshell. This national hero of China has a lot going for him, a master of Hung Gar martial arts, a physician, a teacher, and revolutionary leader against the British occupation of China, Fei-hung is the most beloved legendary warrior of the moden era. Countless tales of his bravery have been told in such movie series as "Once Upon a Time in China" and even Jackie Chan's "Drunken Master". He is in fact probably the single most portrayed hero in film history, with nearly every single martial arts master of the modern era having played him at least once. As a folk hero known for battling gangs of thugs, providing free medical aid to the needy, and for fighting for Chinese independence, he has firmly established a place in history as one of the top warriors of all time, with one large difference that puts him at the top of this list: his accomplishments were absolutely, verifiably, 100% real. Read more on Wikipedia

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