Righteous rebellion

Ancient Greeks prized one quality above all others in their heroes: self-sacrifice. In fact, the word hero comes from a Greek root that means “to protect and to serve.” A hero willingly sacrifices his or her own needs, often risking his or her own safety on behalf of others.

And the Greeks valued one specific expression of self-sacrifice above all: the capacity to mount righteous rebellion against unrighteous authority. Picture legendary Theseus, who risked his life traveling to the heart of the death-trap labyrinth of Crete to slay King Minos’s Minotaur, the beast that daily devoured Theseus’s fellow Greek citizens. Theseus exemplified the heart and courage of a true hero.

Heroes strike a deep, universal chord in humanity. That’s why we cheer the real-life heroes depicted in popular Hollywood films: Sir William Wallace, a 13th-century Scottish knight who fought to free Scotland from the oppressive rule of King Edward I of England in Braveheart. Or William Wilberforce, in Amazing Grace, who headed the parliamentary campaign against the British slave trade for 26 years until the passage of the Slave Trade Act of 1807. Or the unemployed single mother who waged a legal fight against corporate corruption in Erin Brockovich.

Enjoy 1 free Sentinel article or audio program each month, including content from 1898 to today.

This is the end of the issue. Ready to explore further?
January 10, 2011

We'd love to hear from you!

Easily submit your testimonies, articles, and poems online.