Maximus Decimus Meridius and the Definition of Heroism

Last Updated: 19 Jun 2023
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Imagine what the world would be like if there were no heroes. Villains would become the norm, and we would no longer have anyone to admire or imitate. Joy and hope would be a thing of that past, only written in the literature to remind us of once was. The world would fall into profound depression as hope fades into the abyss. Fortunately, we do not live in this world, and heroes are all around us. Some look to celebrities, while others flock too noble professions. Both can be heroic in their way. However, there are numerous ways to be defined as a hero. All that is needed is character people can look up to while striving to better themselves and those around them.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines a hero as "A person admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities." A hero has many disciplines. They could be the lead character in a book, play, or movie, illuminated by excellent characteristics. Maximus Decimus Meridius was a Roman General in the film Gladiator. He was betrayed and forced into slavery to compete as a gladiator. All odds were against him. However, he fought to win his freedom and, while doing so, was able to give Rome back to the people. The people labeled him "The Savior of Rome."

Another discipline is our military, police officers, firefighters, first responders, or anyone in public service. They go to work, day in and day out, to protect their communities and make them healthier. Two of these heroes were Specialist Engelbrecht and Specialist Moore of the United States Army in southern Baghdad, Iraq. A unique Improvised Explosive Device designed to pierce armor by projecting liquefied copper had struck Spc. Engelbrecht's Humvee. The blast had enough force to eject him into a nearby river. He was unconscious and drowning. His leg was floating down the river as the water began to turn a shade of pink. Spc. Moore was the first person on the scene and was able to drag him to safety while avoiding an onslaught of enemy fire. Engelbrecht survived because of Spc. Moore and both were awarded the Army Commendation Medal with Valor.

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Determining who is a hero is different for everyone. Each person views the world through their lens, shaped through personal life experiences. Some may view ICE Agents as heroes protecting our nation from those who enter or stay without proper documentation. Flip to the other side, and people may view these individuals as the enemy who rips families apart. Another group will see American soldiers fighting in foreign lands as heroes because they are the symbol of freedom in our culture. A family under curfew may view the invading soldiers as the enemy. They may see the opposition as heroes due to the intrusion experienced. It's essential to keep an open mind to understand that we all do not have the same set of values or morals. We must educate ourselves to understand our differences better to shed light on what makes us great.

I take a comprehensive approach to who I view as a hero. I think that anyone that is working to better their life is a hero to me. We are all imperfect, but to take time to heal ourselves is heroic. I get to see this every day in the work I do, helping people overcome substance use disorders. Most of our society has labeled these individuals as a stain on society. I don't see it that way; I see persons on a journey, destined to find themselves. These individuals come to me during the most vulnerable times of their lives, humbling themselves enough to ask for help. Throughout their journey to recovery, they will discover their true selves, something most will never experience.

A hero is someone admired for their courage, achievements, and noble traits. Maximus became a hero by sacrificing himself to free Rome. Our soldiers go away to foreign lands to fight for freedom, while our police protect us at home. Heroes, to some, are not the same as others. Sometimes, our heroes oppose one another, creating duality amongst us. To me, a hero is someone who works hard to change their lives. They take time to change the world around them for the better and become heroes in the process.

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Maximus Decimus Meridius and the Definition of Heroism. (2023, Jun 19). Retrieved from

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