What Makes A Hero? Essay

2158 words - 9 pages

What is a hero? Is it superman? Is it your mom or dad? Is it your teacher? There are many people that are considered heroes. Some are just every day people, and some are super-human. Characteristics of heroes vary from era to era. Now people who are just simply a good person are considered a hero. But, back in ancient times to become a hero took much more. It took honesty, wisdom, and in some cases, wealth and superhuman abilities. With time new stories and beliefs are uncovered. In ancient times there were heroes that we can study today through books. Some of the most well known heroes are: Achilles, Odysseus, Aneius, Socrates, Gilgamesh, Beowulf, and King Arthur.
Achilles was a well known Greek hero. He was a warrior that faught long and hard for his people. He was a superhuman, believed to be part god. His mother dipped him in holy water when he was a child. However, she didn’t get his feet because that is what she was holding him by, which later was the reason for his death, because he was shot in the back of the foot, where we would today call our Achilles tendon. Achilles is seen partially after he has died and gone to the underworld in the book “The Odyssey” by Homer. Here he shows almost a bad view of a hero, and this scene of the novel is frowned upon by many of the Greeks, because it was showing that the afterlife wasn’t something to look forward to. Achilles says to Odyssues while he is down there; “By god, I would rather slave on earth for another man—some dirt-poor tenant farmer who scrapes to keep alive—than rule down here over all the breathless dead.” Here many people don’t understand why Achilles was so unhappy. He lived a very blessed and heroic life on earth, and now he has nothing to show for it. “The ancient Greek hero was a religious figure, a dead person who received cult honors and was expected in return to bring prosperity, especially in the form of fertility of plants (crops) and animals, to the community.” (Jones) This is what Greek people were expecting from heroes, so that was why certain heroes spent time in the underworld.
Another well known ancient hero is Odysseus. Odysseus is known for his brave quest across the ocean while he was being kept away from home by the gods. He was a father to a young son when he left and married to a woman he called the love of his life named Penelope. While Odysseus was out fighting battles and becoming a well known hero while being kept away from home he was also being tempted by nymphs on the island. The nymphs were portrayed as beautiful women and would tempt him to sleep with them, but he would still wake up and say how much he misses his beloved wife Penelope. With these flaws he was still viewed as a hero. “Odysseus was by no means a simple or one-dimensional man ... we are given hints in the fragmented Epic Cycle that he actually feigned madness to avoid having to go to Troy but once there, Odysseus became one of the most committed leaders of the Achaean...

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