Spirit of the Ages logo


[Home]  [Medieval and Renaissance Collection]  [Golden Age of Illustration Collection

[Myths]  [Fables]  [Fairies]  [Fairy Tales[Blog]  [''Coloring the Ages''[Special Offer]  [About Us]






Tuesday: June 14, 2011


Heroes (Part 1)



Perhaps the most resonant archetype that inspires the telling of stories is that of the 'Hero'. That aspect of character is defined as being

courageous in the face of adversity and taking action with a moral intent to defend and protect another person or group. The Hero - in its

'light' form - serves as an inspiration for the audience to face down their fears and bravely rise above their own adversity through a deliberate

act of will. Given the nature of Heroic tales, there may be little surprise that such stories were - and still are - most popular when the masses

feel oppressed, irrespective of the circumstances of their lives.


Before the advent of the printing press when the written word was accessible to a small minority of literate individuals - most of whom were cosseted away from the world as devoted members of various religious orders - stories were passed down by oral traditions such as ballads or poetry. Ballads and epic poems

such as "Beowulf", Vergil's "Aeneid" and Homer’s "Odyssey" were long and people were dedicated to

the craft of storytelling. Charged with the responsibility of not just telling the stories but of passing the

story on to an apprentice and ensuring that the tale remained true to the original form, those people would

earn their livelihood from going around telling stories to paying audiences. 










On the right, we show a depiction of one portion of Homer's "Odyssey"

as interpreted by William Russell Flint.


An illustration from ''The Odyssey of Homer'' (1924) illustrated by William Russell Flint


Anyone who has played the 'Telephone Game' knows how distorted the spoken word can become when relayed from one to another to another. 

This may account for why so many variations of the one tale came to be.  It may also account for why heroes of a pedestrian nature progressively

mutated through an act of apotheosis, into a godlike or divine nature.


An illustration from ''Suetonius' Lives of the Twelve Caesars'' (1930) illustrated by Frank C Pape


Such acts of deification through reputation or storytelling that fostered a cult of personality, were particularly

popular goals of ancient rulers from many different cultures. Examples of apotheosis from Antiquity include

Homer (who was deified posthumously by Ptolemy IV Philopator - a Pharaoh of Ptolemaic Egypt), Alexander

the Great (who was deified during his life) and a number of Roman Emperors who were attributed with divine

status by their successors for political purposes. In the case of Roman Emperors, the honour of deification

was often extended to loved ones such as Empresses or lovers and undoubtedly, in the hope of being the

next in line for a similar privilege. Those who had been deified had the prefix Divus (or Diva if a female) added

to their name posthumously. In ancient China - and across the region from Indonesia to Thailand - rulers were attributed a heavenly status, as had also been the case for Pharaohs in Ancient Egypt. However, the

exploitation of the Hero archetype as a means of exerting power and control over others is surely a 'shadow'

expression of this energy.




To the left, we show an illustration by Frank C Papι from

"Suetonius' Lives of the Twelve Caesars" depicting the

following text: "He personated Apollo himself".

In our next Blog, we will discuss the evolving nature of the Hero and the social utility that such an evolution may represent.



 Special Offer




Free Item with Purchase

Follow us


'Spirit of the Ages' Facebook Page

Like us




Share us



Follow us


Follow us on Twitter 


Our Blog


Follow our Blog


Spirit of the Ages - Blog

RSS Feed


'Spirit of the Ages' RSS feed




Subscribe to our Blog by eMail through Feedburner

Subscribe to our Blog by eMail

through Feedburner



Email Us

Enter your comments in the space provided below


Tell us how to get in touch with you:




Make a donation through PayPal



Blog Archive


• Saturday, 30 July, 2011

• A Brief History of the Illustrated Book


• Friday, 22 July, 2011

• Masculinity and Femininity (Part 2)


• Saturday, 16 July, 2011

• Masculinity and Femininity (Part 1)


• Monday, 27 June, 2011

• Heroes (Part 3)


• Friday, 20 June, 2011

• Heroes (Part 2)


• Friday, 7 June, 2011

• Archetypes


• Friday, 27 May, 2011

• Morality through Narrative


• Monday, 16 May, 2011

• "The Sea Battle" by Arthur Rackham

• and comparisons between Buccheim's

• variant and the description of Thor's

• battle with the Midgard Serpent in

• the original from the "Norse Edda of

• Snorri Sturluson"


Top of Page






[Home]  [Medieval and Renaissance Collection]  [Golden Age of Illustration Collection

[Myths]  [Fables]  [Fairies]  [Fairy Tales[Blog]  [''Coloring the Ages''[Special Offer]  [About Us]


Send mail to ThePeople@SpiritoftheAges.com with questions or comments about this web site.
Copyright © Spirit of the Ages
Last modified: 10/03/11