Heroes are generally those who have killed a lot of enemies of their tribe or people, but who refuse to harm their own clan or fellow loyalists.Makes it sometimes very difficult to tell the difference between a mass serial killer and a hero, because it depends on what side you were on.Pinochet is a good example. So is Lincoln and his killer.
So was Scyld Scefing. The Beowulf poet tells us of him, after explaining his wrecking of mead halls and capacity to force others to pay tribute: "That was [a] good king!"But it seems as if there is a universal character of heroism that doesn't require tribalism. Beowulf isn't especially tribal himself, in fact: his most famous deeds are mostly in the service of the Danes, not his own Geats.
But it seems as if there is a universal character of heroism that doesn't require tribalism.That is the ideal. Almost Christian in nature, an enemy of the world, someone strong enough to withstand not only the enemies of humanity, but every other faction in existence on this planet, natural or supernatural. Humans are already too weak to stand up to their own tribe or the tribes of others, and continue to live. But those they promote to demi god status like Hercules, are said to be strong enough to battle gods or the world itself.Humans admire in others, what they lack in themselves. Thus when Christians resisted the Roman lash and crucifixion, freezing to death and being executed as penance for disobeying orders to recant the Cult of Christianity (not recognized by the State yet), the fact that any martyrs would be capable of resisting when they were guaranteed freedom and status if they recanted, was what amazed humans. They wanted that kind of power, they wanted what those martyrs had, because in their own hearts, they knew they would Bow the Knee and Obey Orders.But most heroes, at least in the American sense, are like Chris Kyle. Very exceptional warriors or soldiers, killers, who destroyed the enemy. The Left hates them, because Chris Kyle killed the Left's allies and bosom buddies. Of course they would hate him, for Chris is not their hero but their Enemy. The other kind of hero would be the ones who save life, which is a Western belief on the sanctity of life. You'd have to kill a lot of enemies in order to be equal to saving a life, in the Western culture. For Beowulf, martial prowess would have gone a long ways towards promoting him to a level beyond most normal humans. Back in those days, even if your lord that your clan served was supposedly your superior, if you could best them in armed combat, you might be free of the vassalage or debt. I doubt the family of Ivar the boneless, would have performed the rite of the blood eagle on that Saxon/Northumbrian lord/duke/king, had the Saxons offered their Viking lord/father an honorable death in single combat, rather than throwing their father into a pit of snakes to be bitten to death. But blood feuds were complicated back then, so I may be misreading the people's motivations there.In modern times, a person may save their people, by betraying them. But even if that betrayal was done for patriotic reasons, they are not labeled heroes. Benedict Arnold is not a hero, maybe not even to the British military.So Beowulf may have improved the stature of his own Geats, by proving that his martial prowess was powerful enough even to be needed by the fearsome Vikings of the Danish persuasion. Killing supernatural monsters and what not like the Witcher. But I doubt Beowulf would still be considered a hero if he went up against the rules of his own Geats, even if what he did was right.
A person who saves a tribe or a nation, by saving lives rather than killing people, would be closer to a Savior. The title given to Jesus, the Christ.An Eiyuu, in the Japanese lexicon, is closer to the martial heroes and warrior heroes of the West.The higher title is given to Saviors and Protectors, defenders. People who can win without killing all the enemy. That, is an even more difficult and supernatural feat than killing the enemy.
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