Religion Past and Present

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(428 words)

[German Version]

The word hero is a Greek loanword. Depending on whether we give more weight to literary usage (Homer; Hesiod; Pseudo-Apollodorus; esp. Hes. Erga 156–173 and Hom. Il. VI 152–211) or cultic phenomena, what defines a hero is either feats of superhuman strength and birth from a divine and a human parent (making a hero a demigod) or a gravesite cult, sometimes associated with a temple (heroon; Ancestors, Cult of). If they are not debased local deities, heroes are prehistoric figures whose extraordinary deeds or abilities (heroes as “originators” of cul…

Cite this page
Bartelmus, Rüdiger, “Hero”, in: Religion Past and Present. Consulted online on 29 November 2020 <>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004146662, 2006-2013

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