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Heroism Essay, Research Paper

Heroism is an important element in both Roman and Greek mythology. Honored as a man of cunning and a master of strategy, Odysseus is a beau ideal of Greek heroism. Being a man of sacrifice, rational thinking, and discipline, Aeneas is a praised counterpart to Odysseus. Both were victims of savagery and temptation, examples of heroism and valor, and recipients of struggle and satisfaction. Even when they are characters of different authors, they share common characteristics and abide by certain personality traits that define them to be heroes.

A hero, almost by definition, is an example of heroism and intelligence. In times of danger and desolation, a hero must remain strong, brave, and think of his survival, as well as the survival of his men. Odysseus, being a man of many schemes, intoxicates and blinds the mighty Cyclops, Polyphemus in order to obtain a chance to escape. Odysseus acted calmly and bravely and thereby succeeded in obtaining freedom from the dreaded Cyclops. Romans, however, praise Aeneas for his rational and less extravagant thinking. When he and his men encountered the blinded Cyclops, Aeneas’ crew simply rowed away in their ships seeking refuge. Aeneas augmented to the definition of a hero by acting rationally. Bravery, strength, tranquility, and rationale are a few characteristics that appear from a hero at times of peril.

Yet another characteristic of a mythological hero is an unselfish attitude toward fulfilling one’s function in life. “?Scylla caught my six companions, lifted them up to her den, and threw their writhing bodies behind her into her hollow cave?they screamed and reached toward me with their hands, begging me to the last to save them, I watched the monster sit in the doorway of her den, and devour them.” (96) This rather gruesome scene depicts Odysseus allowing six of his men to be consumed by the unimaginable barking monster. If his sense of responsibility disappeared, he very likely would find happiness somewhere else to evade this situation all together. Nonetheless, his duty was to bring as many of his men as well as himself safely to Ithaca, raise his young son as a warrior, and restore order in his kingdom. Aeneas also sacrifices his desires in order to be the founder of the Roman race. “‘Tell him,’ the lord of Olympus commanded, ‘?He must set sail at once!’”. Here Zeus commands Aeneas to leave Dido and to go to Italy where his son will be the ruler of a new race. Aeneas causes the suicide of Dido after he insists on his departure to Italy. Aeneas has no choice; he cannot indulge in his interests while his soon-to-become nation’s future is at stake. Both men show valor and commitment by neglecting their desires for the future and well-being of others.

Odysseus with his bravery and Aeneas with his rational thinking exhibit authentic heroism. Almost every piece of mythology has a hero or heroin because he/she facilitates in the cohesion and flow of the story. Heroism is an essential factor of Greek and Roman mythology as well as the basis for the reader’s satisfaction.


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