Is it about bravery? is it about talent? Is it about courage in the face of despair? Is it about championing a cause? Has our concept of ‘heroic’ changed?
This short article is not going to answer any of these questions. Rather it is going to show how Classics offers the perfect starting point and enduring basis for this debate.
This is a wonderful question. And a great way to bring classics into the classroom. Achilles? Wayne Rooney? Hercules? Spiderman? Billie-Jean King? Ajax? Odysseus? Winston Churchill? Aeneas? Nelson Mandela? Ada Lovelace? Rosalind Franklin?
All heroes/heroines. But in many different ways. One thing that does stand our from this list is that heroes do not always have to be on the side of the just. Achilles, whilst his beef with Agamemnon is understandable, does cause great suffering with his strop.
But what is the core that binds them all? Is there one?
Such a discussion must begin with the beginnings of heroic tales.
We must start with Homer.