Success is achievable without public recognition, and the world has many unsung heroes. The teacher who inspires you to pursue your education to your ultimate ability is a success. The parents who taught you the noblest human principles are a success. The coach who shows you the importance of teamwork is a success. The spiritual leader who instills in you spiritual values and faith is a success. The relatives, friends, and neighbors with whom you develop a reciprocal relationship of respect and support—they, too, are successes. The most menial workers can properly consider themselves successful if they perform their best and if the product of their work is of service to humanity.
—Michael DeBakey (1908–2008) American Cardiovascular Surgeon
What with making their way and enjoying what they have won, heroes have no time to think. But the sons of heroes—ah, they have all the necessary leisure.
—Aldous Huxley (1894–1963) English Humanist, Pacifist, Essayist, Short Story Writer, Satirist
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
Nurture your mind with great thoughts; to believe in the heroic makes heroes.
—Benjamin Disraeli (1804–81) British Head of State
We shouldn’t be looking for heroes, we should be looking for good ideas.
—Noam Chomsky (b.1928) American Linguist, Social Critic
Once the state has been founded, there can no longer be any heroes. They come on the scene only in uncivilized conditions.
—Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831) German Philosopher
I am convinced that a light supper, a good night’s sleep, and a fine morning, have sometimes made a hero of the same man, who, by an indigestion, a restless night, and rainy morning, would have proved a coward.
—Earl of Chesterfield (1694–1773) English Statesman, Man of Letters
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
Courage is more exhilarating than fear and in the long run it is easier. We do not have to become heroes over night. Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it is not as dreadful as it appeared, discovering we have the strength to stare it down.
—Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962) American First Lady, Diplomat, Humanitarian
Then out spake brave Horatius,
The Captain of the Gate:
To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
And the temples of his Gods.
—Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1st Baron Macaulay (1800–59) English Historian, Essayist, Philanthropist
If you do it right 51 percent of the time you will end up a hero.
—Alfred P. Sloan, Jr. (1875–1966) American Businessman, Philanthropist
The idol of today pushes the hero of yesterday out of our recollection; and will, in turn, be supplanted by his successor of tomorrow.
—Washington Irving (1783–1859) American Essayist, Biographer, Historian
Who is a hero? He who conquers his urges
—The Talmud Sacred Text of the Jewish Faith
Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duty, and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, “This was their finest hour.”
—Winston Churchill (1874–1965) British Head of State, Political leader, Historian, Journalist, Author
Thus we feed on genius, and refresh ourselves from too much conversation with our mates, and exult in the depth of nature in that direction in which he leads us. What indemnification is one great man for populations of pigmies! Every mother wishes one son a genius, though all the rest should be mediocre. But a new danger appears in the excess of influence of the great man. His attractions warp us from our place. We have become underlings and intellectual suicides. Ah! yonder in the horizon is our help;- other great men, new qualities, counterweights and checks on each other. We cloy of the honey of each peculiar greatness. Every hero becomes a bore at last. Perhaps Voltaire was not bad-hearted, yet he said of the good Jesus, even, I pray you, let me never hear that man’s name again. They cry up the virtues of George Washington,- Damn George Washington! is the poor Jacobin’s whole speech and confutation. But it is human nature’s indispensable defense. The centripetence augments the centrifugence. We balance one man with his opposite, and the health of the state depends on the see-saw.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–82) American Philosopher
Ultimately a hero is a man who would argue with the gods, and so awakens devils to contest his vision. The more a man can achieve, the more he may be certain that the devil will inhabit a part of his creation.
—Norman Mailer (1923–2007) American Novelist Essayist
The soldiers fight, and the kings are heroes.
A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.
—Joseph Campbell (1904–87) American Mythologist, Writer, Lecturer
Children demand that their heroes should be freckleless, and easily believe them so: perhaps a first discovery to the contrary is less revolutionary shock to a passionate child than the threatened downfall of habitual beliefs which makes the world seem to totter for us in maturer life.
—George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans) (1819–80) English Novelist
It is better to be the widow of a hero than the wife of a coward.
—Dolores Ibarruri (1895–1989) Spanish Communist Leader
In war the heroes always outnumber the soldiers ten to one.
—H. L. Mencken (1880–1956) American Journalist, Literary Critic
A hero is born among a hundred, a wise man is found among a thousand, but an accomplished one might not be found even among a hundred thousand men.
—Plato (428 BCE–347 BCE) Ancient Greek Philosopher, Mathematician, Educator
The hero is known for achievements; the celebrity for well-knowns. The hero reveals the possibilities of human nature. The celebrity reveals the possibilities of the press and media. Celebrities are people who make news, but heroes are people who make history. Time makes heroes but dissolves celebrities.
—Daniel J. Boorstin (1914–2004) American Historian, Academic, Attorney, Writer
One murder makes a villain. Millions a hero.
—Beilby Porteus (1731–1809) Anglican Bishop of London
No heroine can create a hero through love of one, but she can give birth to one.
—Jean Paul (1763–1825) German Novelist, Humorist
Our tendency to create heroes rarely jibes with the reality that most nontrivial problems require collective solutions.
—Warren Bennis (1925–2014) American Business Academic, Author
Now stiff on a pillar with a phallic air nelson stylites in Trafalgar square reminds the British what once they were.
—Lawrence Durrell (1912–90) British Biographer, Poet, Playwright, Novelist
Being a hero is about the shortest lived profession on earth.
—Will Rogers (1879–1935) American Actor, Rancher, Humorist
Heroes are not known by the loftiness of their carriage; the greatest braggarts are generally the merest cowards.
—Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–78) Swiss-born French Philosopher
It doesn’t take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle.
—H. Norman Schwarzkopf (1934–2012) United States Army General