One thing I’ve noticed about every main protagonist hero in all my favorite stories is that they have some major, tragic flaw. Hercules murders his children. Beowulf has ego issues. Achilles is batshiat crazy for glory and a “fleet-footed mankiller.” Theseus ditches his girlfriend while she’s sleeping. Paris hijacks somebody’s wife. And so on.
But still, there are other heroes. The “good” heroes. They exist in every story alongside the regular heroes, acting as a virtuous backdrop against which the tragedy of the main protagonist plays out. One might call them “boring”, even. But I don’t. These are the characters I relate to, the ones I think we should emulate more.
My favorite of these “good” heroes is, of course, Hector of Troy. Hector who was a good son, a good husband, and a good soldier. Arguably, the only real mistake he made was killing Achilles’ fuck buddy. (Yea, I said it. Patroclus was not his ‘cousin’, kids.)
A nice summary from the Wikipedia article:
Homer places Hector as the very noblest of all the heroes in the Iliad: he is both peace-loving and brave, thoughtful as well as bold, a good son, husband and father, and without darker motives. When the Trojans are disputing whether the omens are favourable, he retorts: “One omen is best: defending the fatherland” (this is the motto of the Greek Armed Forces to this day).
Another excellent example is Wiglaf, the only one of Beowulf’s thanes who never leaves his side. Even when Beowulf’s sword is damaged at the end of the battle with the dragon, Wiglaf refuses to leave his side, going on even as his shield burns up in his hands. When the battle is over and Beowulf is finally dead, Wiglaf mourns him and vows to exile the eleven other thanes who betrayed him by fleeing.
So if you’re inclined, take a moment to think about this. Who is the “good” hero in your life? The person who you might not find exciting, maybe not the A-list actor, but the person whose fidelity you know will never fail you? The person who is not consumed by a tragic flaw, but rather lives a life of more-or-less goodness and honor?
Maybe these are the “heroes” we should be aspiring to be, guys. Just saying. Think about it.