To have no heroes is to have no aspiration, to live on the momentum of the past, to be thrown back upon routine, sensuality, and the narrow self.
—Charles Cooley (1864–1929) American Sociologist
The hero is the one who kindles a great light in the world, who sets up blazing torches in the dark streets of life for men to see by. The saint is the man who walks through the dark paths of the world, himself a light.
—Felix Adler (1851–1933) German-Born American Philosopher
A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–82) American Philosopher
The greatest obstacle to being heroic is the doubt whether one may not be going to prove one’s self a fool; the truest heroism is, to resist the doubt; and the profoundest wisdom, to know when it ought to be resisted, and when to be obeyed.
—Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804–64) American Novelist, Short Story Writer
I think of a hero as someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with their freedom.
—Bob Dylan (b.1941) American Singer-songwriter
It’s true that heroes are inspiring, but mustn’t they also do some rescuing if they are to be worthy of their name? Would Wonder Woman matter if she only sent commiserating telegrams to the distressed?
—Jeanette Winterson (b.1959) English Novelist, Journalist
Celebrity-worship and hero-worship should not be confused. Yet we confuse them every day, and by doing so we come dangerously close to depriving ourselves of all real models. We lose sight of the men and women who do not simply seem great because they are famous but are famous because they are great. We come closer and closer to degrading all fame into notoriety.
—Daniel J. Boorstin (1914–2004) American Historian, Academic, Attorney, Writer
What is a hero without love for mankind.
—Doris Lessing (1919–2013) British Novelist, Poet
The ordinary man is involved in action, the hero acts. An immense difference.
—Henry Miller (1891–1980) American Novelist
You don’t have to be a fantastic hero to do certain things—to compete. You can be just an ordinary chap, sufficiently motivated to reach challenging goals.
—Edmund Hillary (1919–2008) New Zealander Explorer, Humanitarian
True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.
—Arthur Ashe (1943–93) American Tennis Player
There are obstinate and unknown braves who defend themselves inch by inch in the shadows against the fatal invasion of want and turpitude. There are noble and mysterious triumphs which no eye sees. No renown rewards, and no flourish of trumpets salutes. Life, misfortune, isolation, abandonment, and poverty and battlefields which have their heroes.
—Victor Hugo (1802–85) French Novelist
Sometimes, when one person is missing, the whole world seems depopulated.
—Alphonse de Lamartine (1790–1869) French Poet, Politician, Historian
Show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy.
—F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896–1940) American Novelist
One must think like a hero to behave like a merely decent human being.
—May Sarton (1912–95) American Children’s Books Writer, Poet, Novelist
No nobler feeling than this of admiration for one higher than himself dwells in the breast of man. It is to this hour, and at all hours, the vivifying influence in man’s life.
—Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881) Scottish Historian, Essayist
One murder makes a villain. Millions a hero.
—Beilby Porteus (1731–1809) Anglican Bishop of London
The main thing about being a hero is to know when to die.
—Will Rogers (1879–1935) American Actor, Rancher, Humorist