One of the primary themes addressed this semester is the notion of “excellence” in the hero – an example to others, that which his or her culture values
seemingly above all else, variously described and defined throughout the years and across cultures. Trace, examine, and elucidate the various conceptions of
“excellence” in the literature we have read (each culture will have its own words and criteria for “excellence,” which I basically take from the Greek arete).
Who are its examples? Who is valued and why? How is such a “title” achieved or bestowed? What are the particular struggles of the “excellent” hero? Who are
their adversaries, and what might such a struggle suggest or symbolize? How has such cultural valuation evolved from book to book and over the centuries?