• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

What does the celebration of heroes reveal about attitudes to the past?

Extracts from this document...


On What the Celebration of Heroes Reveals About Attitudes to The Past The historical figures of Ludwig van Beethoven, Captain Scott and Genghis Khan, would not be a grouping one would typically consider, but they do have something critical in common, they all, to differing degrees, have a fan base and are considered heroes to some people. Seldom has the annals of history recorded the lives of regular people, instead prefers to look at specific notable individuals. Throughout human history there has been an apparent urge to revere certain people. Though the original definition meant bold, heroic has come to encompass a myriad of criteria; perhaps a set of moral standards people like such as Jesus? preaching of ?love thy neighbour? or Oscar Schindler?s selfless acts, perhaps martyrs like Joan of Arc or Martin Luther King, perhaps militaristic leaders like Lord Nelson and General Custer - it is clear the term heroic can mean a vast array of positive attributes to a historical figure. Great difficulty arises when using a hero as a model of his or her time because as much myth can surround individuals as fact. As such, the hero is a deeply problematic entity in historiography, as they are not a realistic insight into the life of regular people (social history). Instead, hero celebration is a valuable historical tool for assessing the mind-set at the time and since. Using a vast multitude of examples, historiography and even psychology, this essay will explore the great deal that hero veneration reveals about the attitudes to and perceptions of the past. ...read more.


Custer played a part of the consolidation of the United States. People do not relate as much to Crazy Horse as he fought for a cause, though probably no less noble, at odds with American manifest destiny ideals (Ambrose 1996). The same can be applied to national heroes. It goes without saying that Lord Admiral Nelson would be more revered in Great Britain than France. British historiography records that he was a great leader and seaman who died for Crown and Country. French historiography records that the Battle of Trafalgar was an inconclusive battle in which a British admiral (Nelson) was killed by a French marksman. This is an interesting attitude to the past, indeed, the figures that people consider heroes are subject to many constraints and external factors, no less their nationality and on which side they fought. When one considers the atrocities of Hitler and Stalin, it is a startling fact that these two have an active fan base, not only to political extremists, but viable historians. It is often said in historiography that the past does not exist, perhaps that is why there can be an apparent humanitarian and emotional detachment from abhorrent acts in history. Perhaps because these atrocities were committed in the past, they feel less ?real? than if one were to see Stalin?s purges today on BBC News. Some historians argue that Stalin made mistakes but we should look past his terrible acts to see the transformation he instigated - to change Russia from a backward feudal system to a superpower that would rival the USA in less than forty years. ...read more.


Instead, the place of heroes is to show us the mind-set and perception of the hero in his time and since. What hero celebration does is gives us deep insight into the perceptions of the time and since. In addition to the insight it gives us, the celebration of heroes is a beneficial tool in many other respects such as the revering of nationalistic founders and patron saints aid to a national identity and the sense unity. It is a peculiar fact, but undoubtedly true, that the act of hero celebration tells us more about ourselves than the hero in question. Ambrose, S. E. Crazy Horse and Custer: The Parallel Lives of Two American Warriors (1996). University of New York, New York Carlyle, T (1840) Lectures on Heroes ? Lecture 1[Lecture transcript] Cubitt, G. Heroic Reputations and Exemplary Lives (2003). Manchester University Press, Manchester Houghton, W. E. The Victorian frame of mind, 1830?1870 (1957), Ch. 12 (Hero-worship). MacDonald, I. The New Shostakovich (2006). Plimco Publishing, London MacMillan, M. The Uses and Abuses of History (2009) Profile Books Ltd. Suffolk Man, J. Genghis Khan - Life, Death and Resurrection (2005). Bantam Press, London Pryor, F. Britain BC: Life in Britain and Ireland before the Romans (2003). Harper Perennial, London Yorke, B. Alfred the Great: The Most Perfect Man in History? History Today Magazine Available at www.historytoday.com/barbara-yorke/alfred-great-most-perfect-man-history. Accessed 1/5/12. Yorke, B. ?Alfredism: the use and abuse of King Alfred?s reputation in later centuries?, in T. Reuter (ed.), Alfred the Great: papers from the eleventh-centenary conferences (Aldershot, 2003), chap. 21 (on King Alfred, d. 899). ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree 2000-2099 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree 2000-2099 essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Is History a Nightmare

    5 star(s)

    For instance, DeWindt's study of Holywell-cum-Needingworth (a manor of Ramsey Abbey) suggested that personal pledging was, in part, responsible and symbolic of pre-plague village solidarity and community. In this respect, pledging effectively eased the vertical ties of domination creating a communal space.8 History is not a 'nightmare' in that social

  2. History Extension Major Work Postmodernism . It is the feature of postmodernism and ...

    The major factor of Modernist architecture that was rejected by Postmodernism was the Modernist theory of functionality i.e. all unnecessary detail is removed. Postmodernists saw this as boring due to the fact that all buildings began to look the same as they were being stripped of design in favor of basic functionality.

  1. What did the Cronulla riot of December 2005 and its aftermath reveal about Australian ...

    for much of the organization and communication between rioters in not only the initial riots but also in the retaliation attacks. Media coverage of the first attacks on the lifesavers were exaggerated in the media creating, which created a false sense of the shire needing protection from groups of middle eastern decent.

  2. Decision Points by George W. Bush and A Journey by Tony Blair. Are political ...

    tried to avoid war but indicate that Dick Cheney was strongly in favour of taking action as soon as possible, Bush confirms this assertion by describing how Cheney wanted war operations to commence as early as September 200210. John Kampfner supports this by writing how the "Neo-Cons" in the Bush

  1. European Union

    European accession countries, "French president Jacques Chirac was furious at these apparent breaches of intra-European solidarity and claimed that the accession countries had "missed a good opportunity to keep quiet""2. The difference between "old" and "new" Europe has been laid out, and in the coming years the problems of enlargement

  2. To what extent were ethnic tensions the primary cause of the Rwandan genocide?

    The head of the Interahamwe militia, Kajuga, denounced his Tutsi identity and proclaimed himself a Hutu.15 This fact points very strongly to ethnic tensions not being the primary cause of the 1994 genocide. Additionally, a further major piece of evidence which shows that there was very little ethnic hatred amongst

  1. What is the purpose of a museum? Answer with reference to at least three ...

    in the 1960?s, being considered an undesirable location in Essex whilst ancient Colchester, is considered a rather upmarket one. People in general want to make sense of ours lives and our place in society and how we got here (Macmillan 2009, 4).

  2. Why, if at all, is History important to society?

    George Orwell stated that ?Who controls the past controls the future?[9] supporting this, however he also continues to say that ?who controls the present controls the past?[10] meaning that history can be manipulated, particularly by those in positions of authority or power, limiting its usefulness to society as we cannot learn from history if it has been twisted.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work