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In various societies, heroes are viewed differently according to their character and abilities, and according to the time period peculiarities and norms. Authors chant the praises of numerous personality traits in their characters, ranging from being the typical community idol to being a hero with a few unacceptable behaviours. Some heroes lived honourable lives when they were not in the battlefield, and they were known to be very brave fighters during the wartime. On the other hand, some heroes did not live according to the standards and expectation of the society, but they still were courageous enough to give people a sense of hope. Three different authors, Homer, Dante Alighieri, and Virgil displayed different types of heroes in their writings. The roles of these heroes vary and change with different authors as it is discussed in this paper.
Changing Roles in Heroes
Odysseus is a typical Homeric hero. He has leadership traits that make him an effective leader and a hero to the society. He is a strong, courageous, noble, confident, and charismatic man and has a craving for victory. These traits make him a hero to the society. He has a strong sense of responsibility to his family and society; even when the man goes to the exotic land and enjoys his life with Calypso, he understands he has a responsibility to come back home; thus, he starts his way back (Homer, 1996). During all the time he spent with the Phaeacians, he thought about home, despite many obstacles that came along his way.
Odysseus’ role was also to bring victory to his society. He fought many battles against numerous enemies in his quest for triumph and glory. For example, he attacks the land of the Cicones and, in the process, loses a lot of his men and time to go home, on which he regrets later. His quest and passion for glory puts his life in danger as he reveals his identity to Calypso; consequently, he faces the full wrath of Poseidon. However, he realizes that his pride has led him into many troubles and has caused the deaths of many of his men, who wanted to go back home. This situation leads him to temper down his pride with patience and, eventually, he teaches the society the importance of patience. Odysseus was patient, disguised himself as a beggar, and set up traps for his enemies; he got to strike effectively from a good position and won.
The role of the hero as portrayed by Homer is different as that portrayed by Virgil’s character, Aeneas from The Aeneid. He was chosen to be the saviour of his nation and be the founder of Rome in Italy. As noted, Aeneas owes his heroism not to his actions, but rather to his legacy as he was the son of Venus and Trojan mortal, Anchises. Aeneas honours the prophecies of his ancestors and attempts to integrate his idea of what is expected of him with the prophecy; it helps him make appropriate decisions in his life. However, the man faces different emotional impulses that are contrary to his duties. He is unhappy with the responsibility given to him, but still accepts his destiny, and this dedication makes him graceful to the extent that he receives the favours of the gods.
Aeneas knows his role and responsibility to the society and serves as a source of strength for them. During the journey, he encourages his men using speeches, in order to keep their spirits up and help them reach their goals. He is sympathetic with his people as seen from the underground where he grows compassionate after seeing all the dead people, who were unburied (Virgil, 1983). The man understands his duty as a leader and a source of strength; the hero makes it his responsibility to fulfil his duties to his society and gods. Aeneas understands his responsibility to his family and is completely dedicated to it. This dedication is seen in the scene where he carries his father on his back and son to get them out of Troy.
Dante is a completely different kind of hero when compared to the previous two. He has lost his way in life; he is deep in sin to the point that he has lost his path to finding God. Two different sides of Dante are seen based on his actions. When he sees his political opponents losing, he rejoices greatly; on the other hand, however, he is very sympathetic with the suffering souls in hell (Dante, 2000). He is also very exposed to anger, which affects him greatly. Dante learns along the way not to pity the punishment given to the sinners by God, and it helps him in his journey through hell and consequently to heaven.
In relation to the society, Dante is a passionate and courageous man because of his actions in hell. He was not afraid to go through it and fight the challenges that came along his way. He is also very proud of him, which makes him believe that he is the best poet in hell; however, this does not take over his humanity and emotions; it is seen to be very compassionate with humanity. Eventually, he reconciles with himself and follows the right path in his life.
The difference in heroes’ ranges greatly based on their personalities, and the challenges faced along the way. Odysseus was a hero to his society, but this did not prevent him from straying a few times along the way. His pride and quest for glory affected some of his decisions, but, eventually, he found his way. Aeneas was dedicated completely to his family and gods despite his personal unhappiness. Dante was a different kind of hero as he lost his way and had to persevere to find it. However, in all heroes, one outstanding characteristic is their courage and ability to stand up to the buffets of fate.