Heroes in Ancient Societies
Heroes are a special breed of human being, one who gives his or her life for a cause. There are many types of heroes in literature, cinema and popular culture. One has to be a super hero to qualify as a hero in this broad spectrum of definitions. A true hero does not need to have any powers, nor do they need to possess any special qualification or training to become a hero. True heroes are ordinary people who through the course of their lives learn to overcome great odds, go against dangers, and put themselves in dangerous situations in order to do something good.
A hero is a living human being or a fictional character who, in the faces of adversity, combats tragedy through strength, bravery, or imagination. Sometimes, like other previously only gender-defined terms, hero can also be used to describe any gender, although hero and heroine are usually used interchangeably. The term hero, like all popular terms, has both historical and current meaning, depending on the usage. Some definitions of the term hero refer to a certain type of hero that predominates throughout history, while other definitions of the term hero give credit to certain legendary heroes that are the object of intense personal sentiment.
Heroes in Literature It may be difficult to classify modern literature, but one essential point should be noted: in most cases, a modern writer writes a story about heroes, and that hero typically identifies as male. In contrast, earlier literature often describes heroes as female. Thus, although many twentieth century writers speak of and glorify heroes, the original hero in classical literature is almost always a male. As the classic heroic figures such as Achilles, Hector, and Aeschylus are mostly male, it is more common for a modern story to feature an imaginary hero who is described as a person of distinction who rises above others to achieve extraordinary deeds.
Mythology Greek mythology is probably the most significant source of most traditional stories about heroes. Unlike most earlier forms of story telling, Greek mythology places great emphasis on stories of heroic acts. Unlike other ancient civilizations, greek mythological stories do not emphasize the role of a hero in political battles or other conflict where victory is not of supreme importance. A more important theme is the internal struggle of a human being, which determines the level of his ability to overcome personal obstacles and to remain true to his or her values.
Ancient Greeks and Romans Ancient Greek and Roman cultures place great emphasis on the concept of virtue, which is associated with the classical heroes Homer’s Illiad and the Hero of Achilles in particular. These stories present classical heroes as natural born individuals who display exceptional abilities in combat and within the society in which they live. Many classical heroes are mythological characters, and their legends have become popular among people who appreciate quality literature. For example, Virgil’s Aeneas and Homer’s Odysseus are famous authors and characters.
Heroes in Ancient Greece and Rome The concept of heroes is very common in both ancient Greek societies as well as in early Roman culture. Greek and Roman culture places great significance on heroes and on heroic acts. These cultures tend to romanticize the ideal of a natural, immortal hero, and to give great honor and admiration to a heroic action or deed. One can compare ancient Roman and Greek society to that of the fairy tales, wherein a hero is rewarded for performing an act of extraordinary bravery, while in real life, real heroes often experience insecurity and hardship.