Hero

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Giuseppe Garibaldi is considered an Italian national hero for his role in the Italian unification, and is known as the "Hero of the Two Worlds" because of his military enterprises in South America and Europe. Giuseppe Garibaldi (1866).jpg
Giuseppe Garibaldi is considered an Italian national hero for his role in the Italian unification, and is known as the "Hero of the Two Worlds" because of his military enterprises in South America and Europe.
Joan of Arc is considered a medieval Christian hero of France for her role in the Hundred Years' War, and was canonized as a Roman Catholic saint Joan of Arc miniature graded.jpg
Joan of Arc is considered a medieval Christian hero of France for her role in the Hundred Years' War, and was canonized as a Roman Catholic saint
William Tell, a popular folk hero of Switzerland. Wilhelm Tell Denkmal Altdorf um 1900.jpeg
William Tell, a popular folk hero of Switzerland.

A hero (fem.heroine) is a concept that may be found in classical literature. It is the main or revered character in heroic epic poetry celebrated through ancient legends of a people, often striving for military conquest and living by a continually flawed personal honor code. [1] The definition of a hero has changed throughout time. Merriam Webster dictionary defines a hero as "a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities." [2] Examples of heroes range from mythological figures, such as Gilgamesh, Achilles and Iphigenia, to historical figures, such as Joan of Arc, Giuseppe Garibaldi or Sophie Scholl, modern heroes like Alvin York, Audie Murphy and Chuck Yeager, and fictional superheroes, including Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman.

Classics Study of the culture of (mainly) Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome

Classics or classical studies is the study of classical antiquity. It encompasses the study of the Greco-Roman world, particularly of its languages and literature but also of Greco-Roman philosophy, history, and archaeology. Traditionally in the West, the study of the Greek and Roman classics is considered one of the cornerstones of the humanities and a fundamental element of a rounded education. The study of classics has therefore traditionally been a cornerstone of a typical elite education.

Epic poetry lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily detailing heroic deeds

An epic poem, epic, epos, or epopee is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily involving a time beyond living memory in which occurred the extraordinary doings of the extraordinary men and women who, in dealings with the gods or other superhuman forces, gave shape to the moral universe that their descendants, the poet and his audience, must understand to understand themselves as a people or nation.

Legend Traditional story of heroic humans.

Legend is a genre of folklore that consists of a narrative featuring human actions perceived or believed both by teller and listeners to have taken place within human history. Narratives in this genre may demonstrate human values, and possess certain qualities that give the tale verisimilitude. Legend, for its active and passive participants, includes no happenings that are outside the realm of "possibility," but may include miracles. Legends may be transformed over time, in order to keep them fresh, vital, and realistic. Many legends operate within the realm of uncertainty, never being entirely believed by the participants, but also never being resolutely doubted.

Contents

A hero is a real person or a main fictional character of a literary work who, in the face of danger, combats adversity through feats of ingenuity, courage, or strength; the original hero type of classical epics did such things for the sake of glory and honor. On the other hand are post-classical and modern heroes, who perform great deeds or selfless acts for the common good instead of the classical goal of wealth, pride, and fame. The antonym of a hero is a villain. Other terms associated with the concept of a hero, may include "good guy" or "white hat".

Ingenuity is the quality of being clever, original, and inventive, often in the process of applying ideas to solve problems or meet challenges.

Courage quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, or pain

Courage is the choice and willingness to confront agony, pain, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation. Physical courage is bravery in the face of physical pain, hardship, death or threat of death, while moral courage is the ability to act rightly in the face of popular opposition, shame, scandal, discouragement, or personal loss.

Physical strength the measure of an animals exertion of force on physical objects. Increasing physical strength is the goal of strength training

Physical strength is the measure of an animal's exertion of force on physical objects. Increasing physical strength is the goal of strength training.

Etymology

Kronung des Tugendhelden by Peter Paul Rubens Kronung des Tugendhelden.jpg
Krönung des Tugendhelden by Peter Paul Rubens

The word hero comes from the Greek ἥρως (hērōs), "hero" (literally "protector" or "defender"), [3] particularly one such as Heracles with divine ancestry or later given divine honors. [4] Before the decipherment of Linear B the original form of the word was assumed to be *ἥρωϝ-, hērōw-, but the Mycenaean compound ti-ri-se-ro-e demonstrates the absence of -w-. Hero as a name appears in pre-Homeric Greek mythology, wherein Hero was a priestess of the goddess, Aphrodite, in a myth that has been referred to often in literature.

Heracles divine hero in Greek mythology, son of Zeus and Alcmene

Heracles, born Alcaeus or Alcides was a divine hero in Greek mythology, the son of Zeus and Alcmene, foster son of Amphitryon. He was a great-grandson and half-brother of Perseus. He was the greatest of the Greek heroes, a paragon of masculinity, the ancestor of royal clans who claimed to be Heracleidae (Ἡρακλεῖδαι), and a champion of the Olympian order against chthonic monsters. In Rome and the modern West, he is known as Hercules, with whom the later Roman emperors, in particular Commodus and Maximian, often identified themselves. The Romans adopted the Greek version of his life and works essentially unchanged, but added anecdotal detail of their own, some of it linking the hero with the geography of the Central Mediterranean. Details of his cult were adapted to Rome as well.

Linear B Syllabic script that was used for writing Mycenaean Greek

Linear B is a syllabic script that was used for writing Mycenaean Greek, the earliest attested form of Greek. The script predates the Greek alphabet by several centuries. The oldest Mycenaean writing dates to about 1450 BC. It is descended from the older Linear A, an undeciphered earlier script used for writing the Minoan language, as is the later Cypriot syllabary, which also recorded Greek. Linear B, found mainly in the palace archives at Knossos, Cydonia, Pylos, Thebes and Mycenae, disappeared with the fall of Mycenaean civilization during the Late Bronze Age collapse. The succeeding period, known as the Greek Dark Ages, provides no evidence of the use of writing. It is also the only one of the Bronze Age Aegean scripts to have been deciphered, by English architect and self-taught linguist Michael Ventris.

Hero and Leander Greek mythical character

Hero and Leander is the Greek myth relating the story of Hero, a priestess of Aphrodite who dwelt in a tower in Sestos on the European side of the Hellespont, and Leander, a young man from Abydos on the opposite side of the strait. Leander fell in love with Hero and would swim every night across the Hellespont to spend time with her. Hero would light a lamp at the top of her tower to guide his way.

According to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language , the [Proto-Indo-European language|Proto-Indo-European]] root is *ser meaning "to protect". According to Eric Partridge in Origins, the Greek word hērōs "is akin to" the Latin seruāre, meaning to safeguard. Partridge concludes, "The basic sense of both Hera and hero would therefore be 'protector'." R. S. P. Beekes rejects an Indo-European derivation and asserts that the word has a Pre-Greek origin. [5] Hera was a Greek goddess with many attributes, including protection and her worship appears to have similar proto-Indo-European origins.

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (AHD) is an American dictionary of English published by Boston publisher Houghton Mifflin, the first edition of which appeared in 1969. Its creation was spurred by the controversy over the perceived permissiveness of the Webster's Third New International Dictionary. The third edition had more than 350,000 entries and meanings.

Robert Stephen Paul Beekes was a Dutch linguist who was emeritus professor of Comparative Indo-European Linguistics at Leiden University and an author of many monographs on the Proto-Indo-European language.

The Pre-Greek substrate consists of the unknown language or languages spoken in prehistoric ancient Greece before the settlement of Proto-Hellenic speakers in the area. It is possible that Greek took over some thousand words and proper names from such a language, because some of its vocabulary cannot be satisfactorily explained as deriving from the Proto-Greek language.

Antiquity

Perseus and the head of Medusa in a Roman fresco at Stabiae. Unlike medieval and modern heroes, classical heroes did great deeds out of esteem and fame rather than out of any concern for the good of people Perseo in Villa San Marco Stabiae.jpg
Perseus and the head of Medusa in a Roman fresco at Stabiae. Unlike medieval and modern heroes, classical heroes did great deeds out of esteem and fame rather than out of any concern for the good of people

A classical hero is considered to be a "warrior who lives and dies in the pursuit of honor" and asserts their greatness by "the brilliancy and efficiency with which they kill". [6] Each classical hero's life focuses on fighting, which occurs in war or during an epic quest. Classical heroes are commonly semi-divine and extraordinarily gifted, such as Achilles, evolving into heroic characters through their perilous circumstances. [1] While these heroes are incredibly resourceful and skilled, they are often foolhardy, court disaster, risk their followers' lives for trivial matters, and behave arrogantly in a childlike manner. [1] During classical times, people regarded heroes with the highest esteem and utmost importance, explaining their prominence within epic literature. [7] The appearance of these mortal figures marks a revolution of audiences and writers turning away from immortal gods to mortal mankind, whose heroic moments of glory survive in the memory of their descendants, extending their legacy. [1]

Achilles Greek mythological hero

In Greek mythology, Achilles or Achilleus was a hero of the Trojan War, the greatest of all the Greek warriors, and is the central character of Homer's Iliad. He was the son of the Nereid Thetis and Peleus, king of Phthia.

Twelve Olympians the major deities of the Greek pantheon

In ancient Greek religion and mythology, the twelve Olympians are the major deities of the Greek pantheon, commonly considered to be Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Aphrodite, Hephaestus, Hermes, and either Hestia or Dionysus. They were called Olympians because, according to tradition, they resided on Mount Olympus.

Hector was a Trojan prince and the greatest fighter for Troy in the Trojan War, which is known primarily through Homer's Iliad . Hector acted as leader of the Trojans and their allies in the defense of Troy, "killing 31,000 Greek fighters," offers Hyginus. [8] Hector was known not only for his courage, but also for his noble and courtly nature. Indeed, Homer places Hector as peace-loving, thoughtful, as well as bold, a good son, husband and father, and without darker motives. However, his familial values conflict greatly with his heroic aspirations in the Iliad, as he cannot be both the protector of Troy and a father to his child. [6] Hector is ultimately betrayed by the deities when Athena appears disguised as his ally Deiphobus and convinces him challenge Achilles, leading to his death at the hands of a superior warrior. [9]

Hector Greek mythological hero

In Greek mythology and Roman mythology, Hector was a Trojan prince and the greatest fighter for Troy in the Trojan War. He acted as leader of the Trojans and their allies in the defence of Troy, "killing 31,000 Greek fighters", offers Hyginus.

Troy Homeric ancient city in northwest Asia Minor

Troy was a city in the far northwest of the region known in late Classical antiquity as Asia Minor, now known as Anatolia in modern Turkey, just south of the southwest mouth of the Dardanelles strait and northwest of Mount Ida. The present-day location is known as Hisarlik. It was the setting of the Trojan War described in the Greek Epic Cycle, in particular in the Iliad, one of the two epic poems attributed to Homer. Metrical evidence from the Iliad and the Odyssey suggests that the name Ἴλιον (Ilion) formerly began with a digamma: Ϝίλιον (Wilion); this is also supported by the Hittite name for what is thought to be the same city, Wilusa.

Trojan War Mythological war

In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans (Greeks) after Paris of Troy took Helen from her husband Menelaus, king of Sparta. The war is one of the most important events in Greek mythology and has been narrated through many works of Greek literature, most notably Homer's Iliad. The core of the Iliad describes a period of four days and two nights in the tenth year of the decade-long siege of Troy; the Odyssey describes the journey home of Odysseus, one of the war's heroes. Other parts of the war are described in a cycle of epic poems, which have survived through fragments. Episodes from the war provided material for Greek tragedy and other works of Greek literature, and for Roman poets including Virgil and Ovid.

An 18th century depiction of The Rage of Achilles, by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo The Rage of Achilles, by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1696-1770), Italian Rococo painter.jpg
An 18th century depiction of The Rage of Achilles, by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

Achilles was a Greek hero who was considered the most formidable military fighter in the entire Trojan War and the central character of the Iliad. He was the child of Thetis and Peleus, making him a demi-god. He wielded superhuman strength on the battlefield and was blessed with a close relationship to the deities. Achilles famously refused to fight after his dishonoring at the hands of Agamemnon, and only returned to the war due to unadulterated rage after Hector killed his close friend Patroclus. [9] Achilles was known for uncontrollable rage that defined many of his bloodthirsty actions, such as defiling Hector's corpse by dragging it around the city of Troy. Achilles plays a tragic role in the Iliad brought about by constant de-humanization throughout the epic, having his menis (wrath) overpower his philos (love). [6]

Heroes in myth often had close, but conflicted relationships with the deities. Thus Heracles's name means "the glory of Hera", even though he was tormented all his life by Hera, the Queen of the Greek deities. Perhaps the most striking example is the Athenian king Erechtheus, whom Poseidon killed for choosing Athena rather than him as the city's patron deity. When the Athenians worshiped Erechtheus on the Acropolis, they invoked him as Poseidon Erechtheus.

Fate, or destiny, plays a massive role in the stories of classical heroes. The classical hero's heroic significance stems from battlefield conquests, an inherently dangerous action. [6] The deities in Greek mythology, when interacting with the heroes, often foreshadow the hero's eventual death on the battlefield. Countless heroes and deities go to great lengths to alter their pre-destined fates, but with no success, as none, neither human or immortal can change their prescribed outcomes by the three powerful Fates. [10] The most characteristic example of this is found in Oedipus Rex. After learning that his son, Oedipus, will end up killing him, the King of Thebes, Laius, takes huge steps to assure his son's death by removing him from the kingdom. But, Oedipus slays his father without an afterthought when he was unknown to him and he encounters him in a dispute on the road many years later. The lack of recognition enabled Oedipus to slay his father, ironically further binding his father to his fate. [10]

Stories of heroism may serve as moral examples. However, classical heroes often didn't embody the Christian notion of an upstanding, perfectly moral hero. [11] For example, Achilles's character-issues of hateful rage lead to merciless slaughter and his overwhelming pride lead to him only joining the Trojan War because he didn't want his soldiers to win all of the glory. Classical heroes, regardless of their morality, were placed in religion. In classical antiquity, cults that venerated deified heroes such as Heracles, Perseus, and Achilles played an important role in Ancient Greek religion. [12] These ancient Greek hero cults worshipped heroes from oral epic tradition, with these heroes often bestowing blessings, especially healing ones, on individuals. [12]

Myth and monomyth

The four heroes from the 16th-century Chinese novel, Journey to the West JourneytotheWest.jpg
The four heroes from the 16th-century Chinese novel, Journey to the West

The concept of the "Mythic Hero Archetype" was first developed by Lord Raglan in his 1936 book, The Hero, A Study in Tradition, Myth and Drama. It is a set of 22 common traits that he said were shared by many heroes in various cultures, myths, and religions throughout history and around the world. Raglan argued that the higher the score, the more likely the figure is mythical. [13]

The concept of a story archetype of the standard monomythical "hero's quest" that was reputed to be pervasive across all cultures, is somewhat controversial. Expounded mainly by Joseph Campbell in his 1949 work The Hero with a Thousand Faces , it illustrates several uniting themes of hero stories that hold similar ideas of what a hero represents, despite vastly different cultures and beliefs. The monomyth or Hero's Journey consists of three separate stages including the Departure, Initiation, and Return. Within these stages there are several archetypes that the hero of either gender may follow, including the call to adventure (which they may initially refuse), supernatural aid, proceeding down a road of trials, achieving a realization about themselves (or an apotheosis), and attaining the freedom to live through their quest or journey. Campbell offered examples of stories with similar themes such as Krishna, Buddha, Apollonius of Tyana, and Jesus. [14] One of the themes he explores is the androgynous hero, who combines male and female traits, such as Bodhisattva: "The first wonder to be noted here is the androgynous character of the Bodhisattva: masculine Avalokiteshvara, feminine Kwan Yin." [14] In his 1968 book, The Masks of God: Occidental Mythology, Campbell writes, "It is clear that, whether accurate or not as to biographical detail, the moving legend of the Crucified and Risen Christ was fit to bring a new warmth, immediacy, and humanity, to the old motifs of the beloved Tammuz, Adonis, and Osiris cycles." [15]

Slavic fairy tales

Ivan Tsarevich, a hero of Russian folklore Vasnetsov samolet.jpg
Ivan Tsarevich, a hero of Russian folklore

Vladimir Propp, in his analysis of Russian fairy tales, concluded that a fairy tale had only eight dramatis personæ , of which one was the hero, [16] :p. 80 and his analysis has been widely applied to non-Russian folklore. The actions that fall into such a hero's sphere include:

  1. Departure on a quest
  2. Reacting to the test of a donor
  3. Marrying a princess (or similar figure)

Propp distinguished between seekers and victim-heroes. A villain could initiate the issue by kidnapping the hero or driving him out; these were victim-heroes. On the other hand, an antagonist could rob the hero, or kidnap someone close to him, or, without the villain's intervention, the hero could realize that he lacked something and set out to find it; these heroes are seekers. Victims may appear in tales with seeker heroes, but the tale does not follow them both. [16] :36

Historical studies

No history can be written without consideration of the lengthy list of recipients of national medals for bravery, populated by firefighters, policemen and policewomen, ambulance medics, and ordinary have-a-go heroes. [17] These persons risked their lives to try to save or protect the lives of others: for example, the Canadian Cross of Valour (C.V.) "recognizes acts of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme peril"; [18] examples of recipients are Mary Dohey and David Gordon Cheverie.

The philosopher Hegel gave a central role to the "hero", personalized by Napoleon, as the incarnation of a particular culture's Volksgeist , and thus of the general Zeitgeist . Thomas Carlyle's 1841 work, On Heroes, Hero Worship and the Heroic in History, also accorded a key function to heroes and great men in history. Carlyle centered history on the biography of a few central individuals such as Oliver Cromwell or Frederick the Great. His heroes were political and military figures, the founders or topplers of states. His history of great men included geniuses good and, perhaps for the first time in historical study, evil.

Explicit defenses of Carlyle's position were rare in the second part of the 20th century. Most in the philosophy of history school contend that the motive forces in history may best be described only with a wider lens than the one that Carlyle used for his portraits. For example, Karl Marx argued that history was determined by the massive social forces at play in "class struggles", not by the individuals by whom these forces are played out. After Marx, Herbert Spencer wrote at the end of the 19th century: "You must admit that the genesis of the great man depends on the long series of complex influences which has produced the race in which he appears, and the social state into which that race has slowly grown...[b]efore he can remake his society, his society must make him." [19] Michel Foucault argued in his analysis of societal communication and debate that history was mainly the "science of the sovereign", until its inversion by the "historical and political popular discourse".

Bust of Nelson Mandela erected on London's South Bank by the Greater London Council administration of Ken Livingstone in 1985 Mandela Bust at Southbank.jpg
Bust of Nelson Mandela erected on London's South Bank by the Greater London Council administration of Ken Livingstone in 1985
The Swedish Diplomat Raoul Wallenberg saved the lives of tens of thousands of Jews in Budapest during World War II. Raoul Wallenberg.jpg
The Swedish Diplomat Raoul Wallenberg saved the lives of tens of thousands of Jews in Budapest during World War II.

Modern examples of the typical hero are, Minnie Vautrin, Norman Bethune, Alan Turing, Raoul Wallenberg, Chiune Sugihara, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Oswaldo Payá, Óscar Elías Biscet, and Aung San Suu Kyi.

The Annales school, led by Lucien Febvre, Marc Bloch, and Fernand Braudel, would contest the exaggeration of the role of individual subjects in history. Indeed, Braudel distinguished various time scales, one accorded to the life of an individual, another accorded to the life of a few human generations, and the last one to civilizations, in which geography, economics, and demography play a role considerably more decisive than that of individual subjects.

Among noticeable events in the studies of the role of the hero and great man in history one should mention Sidney Hook's book (1943) The Hero in History . [22] In the second half of the twentieth century such male-focused theory has been contested, among others by feminists writers such as Judith Fetterley in The Resisting Reader (1977) [23] and literary theorist Nancy K. Miller, The Heroine's Text: Readings in the French and English Novel, 1722–1782. [24]

In the epoch of globalization an individual may change the development of the country and of the whole world, so this gives reasons to some scholars to suggest returning to the problem of the role of the hero in history from the viewpoint of modern historical knowledge and using up-to-date methods of historical analysis. [25]

Within the frameworks of developing counterfactual history, attempts are made to examine some hypothetical scenarios of historical development. The hero attracts much attention because most of those scenarios are based on the suppositions: what would have happened if this or that historical individual had or had not been alive. [26]

Gender differences

Although the term "heroine" exists in recent use, "hero" is the predominantly used term nowadays, even though its neutrality may be put into question by some. The definitions of the heroine often refer back to the one of the hero, but sometimes insinuate that their deeds are of less value, or were obtained only thanks to their love of God, country, or a man. Therefore, implying that an external explanation for the supposedly extraordinary nature of her deeds is needed to justify them. The warrior women is considered unholy, unnatural. These figures tend to be dismissed because they don't fit in the feminine values they are supposed to represent.

Following this logic, acts of heroism by women are seen as acceptable, during specific time, such as when men are at war and during times of crisis, but they are otherwise often seen as suspicious. Moreover, women are often not individualized, but praised as a group for heroic deeds. Women in the military were often subordinated to tasks less likely to be praised than armed combat and rather, are praised for their courage as a general force, the behavior of nurses during wartime are a good example of this phenomenon.

Reflecting the same perspective, if their story gets told at all, they are made to fit in the acceptable script. Their story is told in a way as to match the expectations of femininity ex: maternal love, compassion, fidelity, resistance, defense, etc. So the set of strengths in which, historically, a heroine could express her value, are overall not the same and perceived as less valuable than their masculine counterpart. [27]

In general, the cultural repertoire of heroic stories requires different qualities for each gender. The contrast of the ideal narrative line pits the autonomous ego-enhancing hero single-handedly and single-heartedly progressing toward a goal versus the long-suffering, selfless, socially embedded heroine, being moved in many directions, lacking the tenacious loyalty demanded of a quest. [28]

Often, if women heroes get mentioned in history, the way their story is told also differs from their male counterparts. Generally, they are portrayed as young and beautiful, their actions are limited to a short time period in opposition to the possibility of a long heroic career portrayed for male heroes, underlying feelings that led to their heroic acts are underlined, overall less details about their life are kept, and emphasis is put upon their tragic death.

It has been asserted that heroes and heroines are part of a social construct, their history is told and changes throughout history to serve different purposes of memory, propaganda according to diverse social, political, or religious evolution. [29]

Modern fiction

Batman (Adam West) and Robin (Burt Ward) in the 1966-1968 television series, Batman Batman and Robin 1966.JPG
Batman (Adam West) and Robin (Burt Ward) in the 1966–1968 television series, Batman

The word "hero" (or "heroine" in modern times), is sometimes used to describe the protagonist or the romantic interest of a story, a usage which may conflict with the superhuman expectations of heroism. [30] A good example is Anna Karenina, the lead character in the novel of the same title by Leo Tolstoy. In modern literature the hero is more and more a problematic concept. In 1848, for example, William Makepeace Thackeray gave Vanity Fair the subtitle, A Novel without a Hero, and imagined a world in which no sympathetic character was to be found. [31] Vanity Fair is a satirical representation of the absence of truly moral heroes in the modern world. [32] The story focuses on the characters, Emmy Sedley and Becky Sharpe (the latter as the clearly defined anti-hero), with the plot focused on the eventual marriage of these two characters to rich men, revealing character flaws as the story progresses. Even the most sympathetic characters, such as Captain Dobbin, are susceptible to weakness, as he is often narcissistic and melancholy.

The larger-than-life hero is a more common feature of fantasy (particularly in comic books and epic fantasy) than more realist works. [30] However, these larger-than life figures remain prevalent in society. The superhero genre is a multibillion-dollar industry that includes comic books, movies, toys, and video games. Superheroes usually possess extraordinary talents and powers that no living human could ever possess. The superhero stories often pit a super villain against the hero, with the hero fighting the crime caused by the super villain. Examples of long-running superheroes include Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, and Spider-Man.

Psychology

Social psychology has begun paying attention to heroes and heroism. Zeno Franco and Philip Zimbardo point out differences between heroism and altruism, and they offer evidence that observer perceptions of unjustified risk play a role above and beyond risk type in determining the ascription of heroic status. [33]

Psychologists have also identified the traits of heroes. Elaine Kinsella and her colleagues [34] have identified 12 central traits of heroism, which consist of brave, moral integrity, conviction, courageous, self-sacrifice, protecting, honest, selfless, determined, saves others, inspiring, and helpful. Scott Allison and George Goethals [35] uncovered evidence for "the great eight traits" of heroes consisting of wise, strong, resilient, reliable, charismatic, caring, selfless, and inspiring. These researchers have also identified four primary functions of heroism [36] . Heroes give us wisdom; they enhance us; they provide moral modeling; and they offer protection.

An evolutionary psychology explanation for heroic risk-taking is that it is a costly signal demonstrating the ability of the hero. It may be seen as one form of altruism for which there are several other evolutionary explanations as well. [37]

Roma Chatterji has suggested that the hero or more generally protagonist is first and foremost a symbolic representation of the person who is experiencing the story while reading, listening, or watching; [38] thus the relevance of the hero to the individual relies a great deal on how much similarity there is between them and the character. Chatterji suggested that one reason for the hero-as-self interpretation of stories and myths is the human inability to view the world from any perspective but a personal one.

In the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Denial of Death , Ernest Becker argues that human civilization is ultimately an elaborate, symbolic defense mechanism against the knowledge of our mortality, which in turn acts as the emotional and intellectual response to our basic survival mechanism. Becker explains that a basic duality in human life exists between the physical world of objects and a symbolic world of human meaning. Thus, since humanity has a dualistic nature consisting of a physical self and a symbolic self, he asserts that humans are able to transcend the dilemma of mortality through heroism, by focusing attention mainly on the symbolic selve. This symbolic self-focus takes the form of an individual's "immortality project" (or " causa sui project"), which is essentially a symbolic belief-system that ensures that one is believed superior to physical reality. By successfully living under the terms of the immortality project, people feel they can become heroic and, henceforth, part of something eternal; something that will never die as compared to their physical body. This he asserts, in turn, gives people the feeling that their lives have meaning, a purpose, and are significant in the grand scheme of things. Another theme running throughout the book is that humanity's traditional "hero-systems", such as religion, are no longer convincing in the age of reason. Science attempts to serve as an immortality project, something that Becker believes it can never do, because it is unable to provide agreeable, absolute meanings to human life. The book states that we need new convincing "illusions" that enable people to feel heroic in ways that are agreeable. Becker, however, does not provide any definitive answer, mainly because he believes that there is no perfect solution. Instead, he hopes that gradual realization of humanity's innate motivations, namely death, may help to bring about a better world. Terror Management Theory (TMT) has generated evidence supporting this perspective.

See also

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Greek hero cult

Hero cults were one of the most distinctive features of ancient Greek religion. In Homeric Greek, "hero" refers to a man who fought during the Trojan War. By the historical period, however, the word came to mean specifically a dead man, venerated and propitiated at his tomb or at a designated shrine, because his fame during life or his unusual manner of death gave him power to support and protect the living. A hero was more than human but less than a god, and various kinds of supernatural figures came to be assimilated to the class of heroes; the distinction between a hero and a god was less than certain, especially in the case of Heracles, the most prominent, but atypical hero.

An aristeia or aristia is a scene in the dramatic conventions of epic poetry as in the Iliad, where a hero in battle has his finest moments. An aristeia can result in the death of the hero at the aristeia's end.

Xenia (Greek) Greek word for hospitality

Xenia is the ancient Greek concept of hospitality, the generosity and courtesy shown to those who are far from home and/or associates of the person bestowing guest-friendship. The rituals of hospitality created and expressed a reciprocal relationship between guest and host expressed in both material benefits as well as non-material ones.

<i>Aethiopis</i> Lost Greek epic

The Aethiopis or Aithiopis is a lost epic of ancient Greek literature. It was one of the Epic Cycle, that is, the "Trojan" cycle, which told the entire history of the Trojan War in epic verse. The story of the Aethiopis comes chronologically immediately after that of the Homeric Iliad, and is followed by that of the Little Iliad. The Aethiopis was sometimes attributed by ancient writers to Arctinus of Miletus. The poem comprised five books of verse in dactylic hexameter.

The Little Iliad is a lost epic of ancient Greek literature. It was one of the Epic Cycle, that is, the "Trojan" cycle, which told the entire history of the Trojan War in epic verse. The story of the Little Iliad comes chronologically after that of the Aethiopis, and is followed by that of the Iliou persis. The Little Iliad was variously attributed by ancient writers to Lesches of Pyrrha, Cinaethon of Sparta, Diodorus of Erythrae, Thestorides of Phocaea, or Homer himself. The poem comprised four books of verse in dactylic hexameter, the heroic meter.

Achilles and Patroclus relationship in classical culture

The relationship between Achilles and Patroclus is a key element of the stories associated with the Trojan War. Its exact nature has been a subject of dispute in both the Classical period and modern times. In the Iliad, Homer describes a deep and meaningful relationship between Achilles and Patroclus, where Achilles is tender toward Patroclus but callous and arrogant toward others. Homer never explicitly casts the two as lovers but they were depicted as lovers in the archaic and classical periods of Greek literature, particularly in the works of Aeschylus, Aeschines and Plato.

<i>Aoidos</i> ancient Greek singer from the time of the poet Homer

The Greek word aoidos (ἀοιδός) referred to a classical Greek singer. In modern Homeric scholarship aoidos is used by some as the technical term for a skilled oral epic poet in the tradition to which the Iliad and Odyssey are believed to belong.

In Greek mythology, Gorgythion was one of the sons of King Priam of Troy at the time of the Trojan War and appears as a minor character in Homer's Iliad. His mother was Castianeira of Aisyme.

<i>Iliad</i> Epic poem attributed to Homer

The Iliad is an ancient Greek epic poem in dactylic hexameter, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy (Ilium) by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles.

Greek mythology body of myths originally told by the ancient Greeks

Greek mythology is the body of myths originally told by the ancient Greeks. These stories concern the origin and the nature of the world, the lives and activities of deities, heroes, and mythological creatures, and the origins and significance of the ancient Greeks' own cult and ritual practices. Modern scholars study the myths in an attempt to shed light on the religious and political institutions of ancient Greece and its civilization, and to gain understanding of the nature of myth-making itself.

When writing the Aeneid, Virgil drew from his studies on the Homeric epics of the Iliad and the Odyssey to help him create a national epic poem for the Roman people. Virgil used several characteristics associated with epic poetry, more specifically Homer's epics, including the use of hexameter verse, book division, lists of genealogies and underlying themes to draw parallels between the Romans and their cultural predecessors, the Greeks.

Greek mythology has consistently served as a source for many filmmakers due to its artistic appeal. Antiquity has been reimagined in many ways and these recreations have been met with great public success regardless of their individual achievements. The plot lines of epic poetry are even more appealing with their enthralling battles, heroic characters, monsters, and gods. And now, with modern technology and computer-generated imagery (CGI), our ability as a society to recreate Greek mythology on screen has improved greatly.

References

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Further reading