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Essay on Heroes of the Ages

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Throughout the ages, there have been many epic heroes in which we hear about through stories. However, there is a rather common question of what makes them an epic hero. Not only do humans look for the bravery and good deeds in a hero, but they go deeper than that. They wish to know what lies beneath the skin. Literally, what makes them act the way they do. Psychologically speaking, there is no sure way to tell why each person acts the way they do. However, what people can analyze is the actions within a story. Of the numerous heroes in which one could extrapolate upon, there are a few who are ideal for finding the true characteristics that make a hero, those being: Achilles, Odysseus, Aeneas, Socrates, Gilgamesh, Beowulf and of course Arthur.

The first hero to analyze for characteristics is Achilles. Although some do not necessarily believe him to be the grandest man, he is still the basis of a lot of stories in which young men feel they should model. Achilles has certain qualities, such as willpower and a care for his men, as Graham Zanker says, “The loss of his armor would among normal heroes be considered a loss of honor, but Achilles makes no mention of honor in this connection, instead lamenting the loss of his friend, as the dominant theme of his speech, and denying that Zeus’ restoration of his honor gives him any pleasure now that Patroklos is dead.” (Zanker). This is also displayed plainly within the Illiad, “Why have you come to me here, dear heart, with all these instructions? I promise you I will do everything just as you ask. But come closer. Let us give in to grief, however briefly, in each other's arms.” (Homer). Speaking of the first quality, Achilles is quite often remembered for his stubbornness; however, it d...


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...eowulf Handbook. Ed. John D. Niles. N.p.: U of Nebraska, 1997. Print.
Eisner, Robert. Socrates as Hero. N.p.: John Hopkins, 1982. Print.
Malkin, Irad. The Return of Odysseus: Colonization and Ethnicity. N.p.: U of California, 1998. Print.
Putnam, Michael C. J. Virgil's Epic Designs: Ekphrasis in the Aeneid. N.p.: Yale U, 1998. Print.
Sandars, N. The Epic of Gilgamesh. N.p.: Penguin Group, 1960. Print.
Wheeler, Bonnie. Quondam et Futurus. N.p.: Scriptorium, 1992. Print. http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/27870210?uid=3739984&uid=2&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21102923820723
Zanker, Graham. The Heart of Achilles: Characterization and Personal Ethics in the Illiad. N.p.: U of Michigan, 1994. Print.
Beowulf translated by Burton Raffel
Morte D'Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory
The Illiad by Homer
The Odyssey by Homer
The Aeneid by Virgil
The Epic of Gilgamesh
The Republic by Plato


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