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Mythological heroes
   
 

dioses mitologicosA hero, in Greek mythology and folklore, was originally a demigod, their cult being one of the most distinctive features of ancient Greek religion. Later, hero (male) came to refer to characters who, in the face of danger and adversity or from a position of weakness, display courage and the will for self sacrifice—that is, heroism—for some greater good of all humanity.

 
 
   
 

thorThis definition originally referred to martial courage or excellence but extended to more general moral excellence.
Stories of heroism may serve as moral examples. In classical antiquity, hero cults—veneration of deified heroes such as Heracles, Perseus, and Achilles—played an important role in Ancient Greek religion. Politicians, ancient and modern, have employed hero worship for their own apotheosis (i.e., cult of personality).

The modern fictional hero

Hero or heroine is sometimes used to simply describe the protagonist of a story, or the love interest, a usage which can conflict with the superhuman expectations of heroism. William Makepeace Thackeray gave Vanity Fair the subtitle A Novel without a Hero. The larger-than-life hero is a more common feature of fantasy (particularly sword and sorcery and epic fantasy) than more realist works.

In modern movies, the hero is often simply an ordinary person in extraordinary circumstances, who, despite the odds being stacked against him or her, typically prevails in the end. In some movies (especially action movies), a hero may exhibit characteristics such as superhuman strength and endurance that sometimes makes him nearly invincible.

 

ApoloOften a hero in these situations has a foil, the villain, typically a charismatic evildoer who represents, leads, or himself embodies the struggle the hero is up against. Post-modern fictional works have fomented the increased popularity of the antihero, who does not follow common conceptions of heroism.

Hero as self

It has been suggested in an article by Roma that the hero or more generally protagonist is first and foremost a symbolic representation of the person who is experiencing the story while reading, listening or watching; thus the relevance of the hero to the individual relies a great deal on how much similarity there is between the two.

The most compelling reason for the hero-as-self interpretation of stories and myths is the human inability to view the world from any perspective but a personal one. The almost universal notion of the hero or protagonist and its resulting hero identification allows us to experience stories in the only way we know how: as ourselves.

One potential drawback of the necessity[citation needed] of hero identification means that a hero is often more a combination of symbols than a representation of an actual person.[citation needed] In order to appeal to a wide range of individuals, the author often relegates the hero to a "type" of person which everyone already is or wishes themselves to be: a "good" person; a "brave" person; a "self-sacrificing" person. The most problematic result of this sort of design is the creation of a character so universal that we can all identify with somewhat, but none can identify with completely. In regard to the observer's personal interaction with the story, it can give the feeling of being "mostly involved," but never entirely.

 
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