A hero is a man who is afraid to run away, as a well-known proverb goes. The word itself originated from Latin and was first used in the fourteenth century. In the Webster Dictionary a hero is defined as “a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent with great strength or ability; a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities as well as the principal male character in a literary or dramatic work”ť. Anyway, a hero is a distinguished person who courageously acts on behalf of the people and dedicates himself to what he does putting his whole soul and much effort in it. Joseph Campbell defined a hero as “someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself”ť (Campbell).
Truly, though a hero is mainly viewed as a person who possesses courage and does what is necessary for the benefit of other people, family, community or the whole world. But actually, fear and courage both live in the body of a hero, courage will not exist without fears, and to achieve nearly impossible things, a person has to overcome them. He has to be a little more despondent with what happens than other people and feels strength to restore balance. Ralph Waldo Emerson once noticed that “heroism feels and never reasons, and therefore is always right”ť. It seems to be quite clear for anyone from early childhood what a hero is, but as we grow up we see the concept of a hero change in our mind and those who were once heroes for us in childhood will no longer remain them. Parents were our first heroes, but then as we consider things more profoundly, being a hero acquires a new sense. The same happens in the course of time on the scale of the humanity, though the category of a hero seems to be quite stable and never-changing with his deeds imprinted in history forever, we still notice the way we perceive heroism changes and the examples we give when we are asked to think it over never remain the same too.
One can trace that the image of a hero changed in history, as the Greeks admired Achilles, Hercules, Perseus, while now heroism is overblown in the media and victims of disasters or participants of various TV-shows are frequently called heroes. As it has come to common usage, it appears to bear little resemblance of what it symbolized when a hero, Alexander the Great for instance, had to conquer the territory from Greece to India and was celebrated as a hero. A hero is never perfect and heroism turns out to be relative though such heroes as Mother Theresa and Mahatma Ghandi will always remain heroes and will serve good examples for the future generations who indisputably need worthy idols.