Humanities › Literature Top Heroes in Literature Share Flipboard Email Print Literature Classic Literature Authors & Texts Top Picks Lists Study Guides Terms Best Sellers Plays & Drama Poetry Quotations Shakespeare Short Stories Children's Books By Esther Lombardi Literature Expert M.A., English Literature, California State University - Sacramento B.A., English, California State University - Sacramento Esther Lombardi, M.A., is a journalist who has covered books and literature for over twenty years. our editorial process Esther Lombardi Updated November 25, 2017 A hero, or protagonist, is the principal character of a story, who may be known for special achievements. In mythology, the hero may be from divine ancestry. In literature, a hero is courageous. Read more about top heroes in literature. 01 of 10 Epic Hero by Dean A. Miller. Johns Hopkins University Press. From the publisher: "Dean A. Miller examines the place of the hero in the physical world (wilderness, castle, a prison cell) and in society (among monarchs, fools, shamans, rivals, and gods). He looks at the hero in battle and quest; at his political status; and at his relationship to established religion." 02 of 10 Somewhere I Have Never Travelled: The Hero's Journey by Thomas Van Nortwick. Oxford University Press. From the publisher: "Exploring the hero's journey as a metaphor for spiritual evolution, this book combines literary, psychological, and spiritual insights to examine three ancient epics: The Epic of Gilgamesh, Homer's Iliad, and Virgil's Aeneid." 03 of 10 Heroism and Friendship in the Novels of Erich Maria Remarque by Haim Gordon. Lang, Peter Publishing, Incorporated. From the publisher: "Erich Maria Remarque was one of a few twentieth-century novelists that described the heroism of ordinary people and the beautiful friendships that can arise among them. In discussing these moments of heroism and true friendship, this book illustrates the courage and generosity of these ordinary heroes in their willingness to see and to fight evil." 04 of 10 Best of the Achaeans: Concepts of the Hero in Archaic Greek Poetry by Gregory Nagy. Johns Hopkins University Press. From the publisher: "Despite widespread interest in the Greek hero as a cult figure, little was written about the relationship between the cult practices and the portrayals of the hero in poetry. The first edition of The Best of the Achaeans bridged that gap, raising new questions about what could be known or conjectured about Greek heroes." 05 of 10 Gender and Heroism in Early Modern English Literature by Mary Beth Rose. University of Chicago Press. From the publisher: "For most readers and spectators, heroism takes the form of public, idealized masculinity. It calls to mind socially and morally elevated men embarking on active adventures: courageously confronting danger; valiantly rescuing the helpless; exploring and claiming unconquered terrain." 06 of 10 The Hero and the Sea: Patterns of Chaos in Ancient Myth by Donald H. Mills. Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, Inc. From the publisher: "'The Hero and the Sea' examines the mythological pattern of heroic battles with watery chaos in the Gilgamesh Epic, the Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Old Testament, in the light of anthropology, comparative religion, literature, mythology, psychology, and modern chaos theory." 07 of 10 War and Words: Horror and Heroism by Sara Munson Deats. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. From the publisher: "Working from Homer through to Hemingway and in all traditions, some of the nation's best scholars of literature illustrate how literature and language affect not only the present but also future generations by shaping history even as it represents it." 08 of 10 Hesitant Heroes by Theodore Ziolkowski. Cornell University Press. From the publisher: "Why, Theodore Ziolkowski wonders, does Western literature abound with figures who experience a crucial moment of uncertainty in their actions? In this highly original and engaging work, he explores the significance of these unlikely heroes for literature and history." 09 of 10 The Hero of the Greeks by C. Kerényi. Thames & Hudson. From the publisher: "In this companion to C. Kerényi's classic 'The Gods of the Greeks,' he presents the heroes of Greek mythology who preoccupied the minds of the ancient Greeks no less than the gods themselves." 10 of 10 Western Hero in History and Legend by Kent Ladd Steckmesser. University of Oklahoma Press. From the publisher: "By debunking much of the mythology surrounding these four famous Western figures, Steckmesser provides a valuable lesson in critical analysis as well as showing how rumor, untruth, and legend can become accepted as history. A new foreword by Brian W. Dippie is also included in this edition."