What is a Hero?

Essay by scottcookUniversity, Bachelor'sA, November 2014

download word file, 9 pages 0.0

Downloaded 2 times

The Value of Heroic Nature: Ancient versus Modern

What is heroism? Is it being able to slaughter an entire army singlehandedly? Is it being a good father to your children? Or is it being able to do what is right, even if the choice is hard to make? The Oxford English Dictionary defines being heroic as "Of or pertaining to a hero or heroes; characteristic of, or suitable to the character of a hero; of a bravery, virtue, or nobleness of character, exalted above that of ordinary men." In the Iliad, Homer presents two very opposing sides of heroes. On one side, there is Achilles, the manly man, invincible to all mere mortal men; on the other, there is Hector, a true family man who defends his people to the death. According to the Oxford English Dictionary definition, both Achilles and Hector have characteristics of heroic figures, however neither completely define the meaning of heroic.

The way modern readers and the original audience portrays both Achilles and Hector have shifted drastically throughout the years. The ancients saw Achilles as "the man to be." He was a mortal who was comparable to the gods; he defied mortal standards and had only one vulnerability due to his mother dipping him in the waters of the River Styx. His main motivation is not for honor of the Greek army, or even his unit of Myrmidons. It is of personal honor. When Agamemnon takes his war prize, Brieses, from Achilles, he withdraws completely from the fight, intending to return back home. In fact, his absence causes the most warfare to occur since the Trojans feel that they can attack the Greek army with less consequences. It isn't until his cousin Patronclus, wearing Achilles's armor, is slain by Hector that prompts Achilles to return...