"[...] I could never deem
As Payne Knight did [...]
That Homer's heroes measured twelve feet high.
They were but men: -- his Helen's hair turned grey
Like any plain Miss Smith's who wears a front;
And Hector's infant whimpered at a plume
As yours last Friday at a turkey-cock.
All actual heroes are essential men,
And all men possible heroes: every age,
Heroic in proportions, double-faced,
Looks backward and before, expects a morn
And claims an epos."
-Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh, 1857
I have always loved this passage of poetry and the message behind it. Ms. Barrett Browning makes a good point: all of the great heroes that history idolizes--all of the wonderful, stoic figures of our past were simply men. They had lives very similar to yours and mine until something set them apart. It was a particular combination of choices and circumstance that set them in the idylls and legends of history. But all men (and women, of course!) are possible heroes. How often do we have the opportunity and choice to set ourselves apart? When do we miss it? How can we become heroes in our own lives?
|Pompeii, Italy - David Strauss c2009|