Texts, Culture & Values
Heroism- What did it mean in the past and does it still mean the same today?
* This is the definition of a hero in a modern dictionary.
o a man or boy admired for his bravery, great deeds, or noble qualities.
o 2. a person admired for contribution to a particular field.
o 3. the most important male person in a story, play, or poem.
o 4. (Greek Legend.) a man of more than human strength, courage, or ability, especially a warrior favoured by the gods. Hercules and Achilles were heroes.
* Notice that it is always a man. Does that mean that women can not be hero's? In the past, that is what it meant. The hero's that we know about, because we read about them in story books when we were young, or heard others talk about them, are all male.
* To be a hero in the past, you had to have the quality of "ArÃÂªte" which was the idea of human perfection.
It translates into a word like virtue, meaning basically
o 1. moral excellence; goodness.
o 3. a good quality; merit.
o 5. the power to produce good results; potency; efficacy.
* In Book 22 of the well known story called 'The Odyssey' by Homer, Ulysses, one of the best examples of an Ancient Greek hero, comes back to find his home overrun by suitors, fighting for his wife's hand in marriage, since they think him dead.
* This is a perfect example of what we used to take for herotic behaviour. Ulysses, when he sees this, kills all the people who have betrayed him. The way in which he does it, killing all the women who slept with the men as well, is for us now horrifying. Would we...