The Concept of a Hero

1072 Words5 Pages
Back in the days of the Odyssey and The Iliad, heroes were classified by their accomplishments. From Odysseus to Achilles, all of the men who were idolized as heroes were so idolized because of their world-altering deeds and conquests, unfathomable wealth, and achievements that would forever be remembered in history. But today, in a world pillaged by war, poverty, controversy, drugs, disease, and economic blunders, who truly deserves to be called a hero? No longer are there titans on the earth, bloodthirsty men with chain mail armor, lances and swords, leading enormous armies into battle. And yet, though circumstances have changed, people haven’t, and the need for heroes, for role models and beings of unfathomable perfection, has not dissipated from society even as the ancient hero has. In America today, the concept of a hero is much different. People in the ancient world were idolized because of inconceivable strength, wealth, or intelligence, however the people that modern Americans admire and model themselves after poses qualities such as selflessness, bravery, and determination that make them true role models.

The heroes of ancient Greece were tall, terrible figures of herculean strength and superhuman power. They weren’t thought of as heroes for their personality or character, but for the massive number of soldiers slain in war or one-on-one duels won for their countries. A perfect personification of the ancient hero is Achilles, the protagonist of Homer’s The Iliad. As described in the manuscript, Achilles was the greatest fighter and warrior among the Achaeans. He is an exceptional warrior, and The Iliad is filled with accounts of his victories in battle. Not only that, but he defeats Hector, the leader of the Trojan arm...

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...ers, to never take everything for themselves, and to take the nonviolent path to conflict resolution whenever possible. Americans are brought up modeling themselves after people like Wayne Gretzky, and are encouraged to develop the determination, selflessness, and modesty, instead of the athletic ability, that Wayne Gretzky exemplified. The concept of the American hero shows how much society has evolved since ancient times: that society has gone from wanting perfection and wanting it all for themselves, to wanting equality, teamwork, and compromise. Instead of a society of stress, pressure, and hostility, the American today lives in a society where instead of focusing on violence and honor, people focus on loving and caring for others. Heroes in ancient times were famous for the war trophies on their walls: the American hero is famous for the trophies in his heart.
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