ON HEROES, HERO-WORSHIP, AND THE HEROIC IN HISTORY
I. THE HERO AS DIVINITY. ODIN. PAGANISM: SCANDINAVIAN MYTHOLOGY.
II. THE HERO AS PROPHET. MAHOMET: ISLAM.
III. THE HERO AS POET. DANTE: SHAKSPEARE.
IV. THE HERO AS PRIEST. LUTHER; REFORMATION: KNOX; PURITANISM.
V. THE HERO AS MAN OF LETTERS. JOHNSON, ROUSSEAU, BURNS.
VI. THE HERO AS KING. CROMWELL, NAPOLEON: MODERN REVOLUTIONISM.
LECTURES ON HEROES.
[May 5, 1840.]
THE HERO AS DIVINITY. ODIN. PAGANISM: SCANDINAVIAN MYTHOLOGY.
We have undertaken to discourse here for a little on Great Men, their
manner of appearance in our world's business, how they have shaped
themselves in the world's history, what ideas men formed of them, what work
they did;--on Heroes, namely, and on their reception and performance; what
I call Hero-worship and the Heroic in human affairs. Too evidently this is
a large topic; deserving quite other treatment than we can expect to give
it at present. A large topic; indeed, an illimitable one; wide as
Universal History itself. For, as I take it, Universal History, the
history of what man has accomplished in this world, is at bottom the
History of the Great Men who have worked here. They were the leaders of
men, these great ones; the modellers, patterns, and in a wide sense
creators, of whatsoever the general mass of men contrived to do or to
attain; all things that we see standing accomplished in the world are
properly the outer material result, the practical realization and
embodiment, of Thoughts that dwelt in the Great Men sent into the world:
the soul of the whole world's history, it may justly be considered, were
the history of these. Too clearly it is a topic we shall do no justice to
in this place!