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True Heroes In Literature Essay

1822 words - 7 pages

Throughout history, there have always been heroes. Those strong-willed, brave individuals who perform courageous acts for fame and glory are prevalent in most cultures.. Societies have these heroes as standards of their cultures’ moral codes. Every society has their own definition of these codes are, so a unifying definition of hero can be hard to achieve. However, Philip Zimbardo says “Simply put, then, the key to heroism is a concern for other people in need—a concern to defend a moral cause, knowing there is a personal risk, done without expectation of reward.” With this basic definition, I will be examining various epic heroes I’ve studied throughout the course of my senior year for characteristics. From the copious amounts of studying, I’ve deduced that Achilles, Odysseus, Aeneas, Socrates, Gilgamesh, Beowulf, and Arthur all have characteristics that make them heroic.
First off, Achilles has a few heroic characteristics. I don’t want to compare him to any other heroes I’ve studied because I don’t like him, but I’d say Odysseus, because they fought for the same goal in the Trojan War. But personally, I think he is a sissy for not fighting throughout the entire Trojan War until things got personal because Hector killed his friend. But hey, killing Hector in his blind rage helped the cause, and thusly his people. So he isn’t all that bad. Then, as N.S. Gill will write, Achilles does this. “An enraged Achilles kills Hector and then dishonors the body by dragging it around tied to the back of a chariot for 9 days.” So, yeah, Achilles is kind of a prick. But then again, Achilles reflects the moral codes of the culture that bore him, so in a strange way, he is the embodiment of a hero. To them at least. To me, he seems to have good intentions, but his emotions skewing his vision makes his execution a little sloppy. At his core, Achilles has the characteristics of a hero.
Next up, Odysseus has the makings of a hero. I believe Odysseus is the most committed of any epic hero I’ve studied. After finishing the ten-year Trojan War, he started another ten-year journey. He sails across the known world, fights monsters, out-smarts demi-gods, and disguises his self in his own house; for what? All to get back to his wife, Penelope. This doesn’t sound like your average Greek soldier. Well, that’s because he isn’t. As Emily Wilson describes, he is much more than that. “He is also a poet, a beggar, a lover, a husband, a father, a son, a pirate, a sailor, a giant-killer, a military strategist, a hunter, a spy, a politician, a fierce general, a carpenter, a shipwright, a liar, a thief, a polite guest in either a king’s hall or a pigsty, a victim of fortune and its master – to name but a few.” With all these skills at his disposal, he had the ability to conquer any challenge to reclaim his home and wife. He is also very strong of will, which is the reason he was unfazed through his many daunting challenges. If you will, Odysseus’ heroic characteristics make him the...

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