Friday, December 3, 2010


This is the final draft of my presentation notes, entitles "Recognition of a Hero: Convention, Principles and Customs.

Literary and Linguistic Recognition
¨  Regardless of cultural context, heroes are almost indefinitely given a number of prefixes and heroic descriptions by which they are easily recognized.
¨  Examples: 
¨  “Glorious Achilles” – Homer’s Iliad
¨  “The mightiest man on earth” – Beowulf
¨  “The Amazing Spiderman” - Spiderman
¨  “Action Man, The Greatest Hero of Them All” – Action  Man
¨  Oftentimes the name of the hero is also the name of the text within which the hero exists

The heroic attire perhaps the most significant factor in their recognition.
Robin Hood – Characterized in a tunic.
Beowulf – Infamous for battle with Grendel choosing to wear no clothes at all.
Beowulf’s battle with Grendel, Beowulf chooses to display his true sense of the heroic code in fighting the vicious monster entirely naked. His refusal to employ the use of weaponry showcases his desire to combat the demon on an equal plain.
•Contemporary heroes in popular culture are generally masked so as to hide their true identity.
Spiderman, Batman, Zorro, Daredevil etc.
Costume reflects their mental state – Spiderman adopts the black equivalent of his red outfit following the death of his aunt.
¨  Emblems are often used to signify the identity of the hero.
¨  This convention is particularly associated with the contemporary comic book style super hero.
¨  Used to solidify the unique identity of that particular super hero,
or perhaps to promote the high street
costumes market.

Heroic Weaponry

¨  Arsenal is also particularly relevant from classical to contemporary heroic texts.
¨  Examples:
¨  Beowulf’s Hrutning – Used in his underwater battle with Grendel’s mother.
¨  Robin Hood’s Bow and Arrow – Continuously illustrated as Robin Hood’s expertise.
¨  King Arthur’s Excalibur – A symbol of Arthur’s Kingship and the sovereignty of Britain.
¨   Xena’s Chakram – Most often associated weapon of choice in Robert Tapert’s televised franchise.

Others: Mjolnir – Thor (Pronounced Myolneer)
Heroic  Super Powers : Spiderman, Batman, X-Men etc.

 The Heroic Code
¨  Classical heroes such as Aeneas generally obeyed the laws of Fatum.
Fatum – The concept of unswayable destiny – must be followed in fear of the direst of consequences. Also translated to the heroic code – should a hero ignore his duties to society and to Fatum, society itself will suffer (example: In Virgil’s Aeneid, Achilles decision to remain in Carthage with his beloved Dido halts all construction to the city).

¨  Focused on the concept of ignoring personal pride in favour of fighting for one’s society.
¨  Convention which is also seen in Beowulf – criticised for battle with the dragon.

Beowulf’s Battle with the Dragon: Not true to the heroic code for 2 reasons:

1: The dragon is merely acting as it should, and enacts no such crime as to justify Beowulf’s decision to slaughter it.

2: Beowulf decides to attack the dragon himself. His attempt at showcasing both his sense of Kingship and heroism is flawed in that the probability of his death is dangerously high, and with his ultimate failure he in fact leaves his people with no King whatsoever.

-Has altered in contemporary times – paradox often seen of a hero battling with personal desire and sense of duty to society.

Contemporary Heroic Code:
Heroes often seen to battle with both personal desires as well of sense of duty to society.
Often conceal their identity so they may balance their heroic life with their mortal one.

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