They have moved beyond the sacred gate and struck out,
for us and themselves into the world beyond the plough,
beyond the hound’s bodies and broken spears.
The Evenstar rises and sets in a mythic world of their own design,
for us they have moved beyond the days of our feeble hopes
and into the twilight, to leave behind fame, glory, wrath and ruin.
What say you?
What golden notions have stirred you heroes heart?
For sword and sandals have been placed in your safe keeping,
A father’s gift that pulls you forward,
To a destiny now hidden from all our eyes.
From where did you come and into what bright future will you travel?
Like flowers we turn our eyes to whatever bright sun is offered.
We raise our hands into the Olympian mists with prayer.
What cool distant evening will find you awash and beached
amongst the Isles of the Fair?
What then, will you return to us?
The heroes journey reaches out and weaves
a Thassian fabric as old as storied time,
to shape the very world beyond words and lips,
into ears beyond hearing.
As they strike out, we strike out with them,
for us they have ranged out beyond the guarded gate
and our grasp, to wander and wonder forever
into the dreams of mere men.
Sleepless pathfinders whose trackless course will never be forgotten,
by the sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve.
The hero beyond the silver fire,
the hero beyond ourselves.
I have been working through a specific vision of the hero. A 3-part structuralist model of heroic narrative that seeks to establish a unified framework. A global system that will help unify the far-flung depictions of the hero and facilitate their comparison for study.
Narratives, both modern and ancient are filled with heroes, in fact if you were to accept an entirely reductionist approach to the hero, you may define them as the protagonist of any story. I am not comfortable with this notion, it is entirely to simple even for myself.
As someone who studies heroic narrative I see that the hero is both a character and an idea. They are manifest in narratives, but their source is informed by deeply embedded cultural codes. This universal heroic narrative structure I have come to define as the “Heroic Complex”.
The Heroic Complex is akin to a form of narrative consciousness. It is not as Nicholson states a perfect place but an ethos that is “an uneasy thing” (2). A ‘telling world’ where heroics are at play. I would suggest that within the Heroic Complex the ideas of heroes and their stories are to be rationalized as Claude Levis Strauss suggests “[as] patterns showing affinity, instead of being considered in succession, [they are] to be treated as one complex pattern and read globally” (6).
As a result of this the hero is transformed into an epistemological figure, that allow its audience and yet even further, its culture to shape, display and validate our moral truths (Rollins 433). We are never finished with this process. The Heroic Complex is a churning gyre of new material and association. It is an ever-evolving metanarrative structure of connected parts that dialogue with one another. This ongoing discourse is subject to fluctuations and is never cemented in place.
Our heroes allow us to move beyond ourselves and engage with narrative on a vicarious level that is transfixed by the heroic ethos. This is the Heroic Complex. This metanarrative realm existing independently of genre – yet simultaneously permitting all genres to intermingle and inform each other. Nothing is excluded here; the Heroic Decision (discussed early) has identified the hero and the Heroic Enterprise has transitioned the hero across this liminal boundary, placing them within the Heroic Complex.
Levis-Strauss, Claude. The Structuralism of Myth. The Journal of American Folklore. Vol. 68. No. 270. Nov. 1955. pp. 428-44.
Nicholson, Adam. Why Homer Matters. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2014.
Rollin, Roger B. Beowulf to Batman: The Epic Hero and Pop Culture. College English. Vol. 31. No. 5. Feb. 1970. pp. 431-449.
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