True Heroes?

From: M Anderson (avimort@aurora.cc.monash.edu.au)
Date: Thu 16 Jan 1997 - 00:42:33 EET


Hi folks,

Once again I delurk to offer a few words..

There has been much written here recently about heroes, far too much to
comment on each of the individual posts. It set me to thinking.....

Can a hero truly be a hero if they claim to be one? (Please excuse me
while I remove myself from Gloranthan heroes and use some RL examples
here, it is a lot easier to refer to folks we all agree on, rather than
ones that seem to be ephemeral in motive and style from post to post.)

I had always assumed that heroes were hailed as such by the people they
were heroes to. The concept of waking up one morning and declaring one's
self to _be_ a hero seems to be rather like declaring yourself to be the
greatest author, cyclist, artist (etc.) in the world. On stepping outside
and announcing this to the world you would be met with blinks of
amazement, gales of laughter, and (unless you had a darned good publicity
agent) thousands of people determined to shoot you down in flames. In
Australia, this is called the "tall poppy syndrome", and it is a national
pastime to cut braggers down to size. In America, it seems that self
claimed heroes end up very much like OJ, half of their adoring public
believe anything they say, while the other half get their noses out of
joint at the "fall' of their once-perfect hero and spend all their time
telling everyone that will listen how he was never _that_ good anyway.

How does all this apply to Glorantha? Simple. A Gloranthan hero is an
ordinary, everyday adventurer, or farmer, or fisherman, or healer... For
most of their lives they go around doing what they are good at. There may
be many in their part of the world who are better at what they do than
they are, and they are well aware of it. But one day, one unforgettable
day, they are the only person in a position to do something remarkable,
to push what they can do to the limit and beyond, to achieve their
utmost. Maybe no-one but them will ever know this, and they continue on
their way. But just maybe what they have done affects other people, and
this formerly ordinary person is hailed as a hero! They may be feted for
a while, given the best housing, food, pick of the local bed-partners.

What happens next? Can they live out the rest of their lives on their one
heroic example? Will the townsfolk continue giving up 15% of their annual
income to support this hero in their midst? Or will they, the next time
that trouble is on the horizon, all rush to the hero's door and demand
that the hero steps forward to save the day again? What happens when the
months of good food and wine prevent the hero's armour from fitting? What
happens when the hero's sword arm is weak from lack of use?... Thus
heroes fall and are forgotten.

Such a hero, obviously, is not in the same category as Argrath, or
Pavis.. Or are they? Why _did_ Argrath spend so much time wandering
around? Why did he assume so many different guises? Was Pavis a hero
during his life or only afterwards? How would the locals react if Argrath
strode into their town and declaimed "I am a hero, follow me!" with no

other proof?

Heroes are made so by those they affect, by their deeds, or words, or way
of life. Many are not heroes until after their death. Fortunately in
Glorantha, death is not final, and godhood is a possibility for those
hailed as heroes who come to the notice of the other gods. But how would
those gods react to the adventurer who claims to be a hero to all they
meet during their lifetime, as opposed to the adventurer who dies while
unthinkingly trying to do something truly heroic in status?

Just my two clacks worth....

Marion Anderson
avimort@aurora.cc.monash.edu.au
(who should be down in a lab throwing rocks at classes of teenage
children... definitely _not_ a heroic thing to do - unless you're the
one having to put up with them in class.....)

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