Hero's journey stories are about ordinary people who become extraordinary heroes because they take action against some threat. The threat can be a person. It can be a dangerous animal or a hurricane. It can be an invading army. Whatever it is, the threat means impending danger for the vulnerable.
The first characteristic of a hero's journey story is that the person who becomes the hero doesn't start out as a hero. The ordinary person becomes a hero by risking danger to confront the threat. The second characteristic is that the hero-to-be faces danger to save someone or something else from harm.
Courage of the Heart
Does this mean that courage is the primary requirement for being a hero?
Courage has more than one connotation in the English language. The statement by Ambrose Redmoon demonstrates a definition that that is not always evident in contemporary English.
Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.
We all know that the word courage concerns bravery. We also know that the word heart concerns emotions. In contemporary English, a common assumption is that you think with your head and you feel with your heart.
But English is more complicated than these two definitions. Although courage as bravery and heart as emotions have become default meanings in contemporary English, the words themselves have a deeper history.
Before English existed as a language, the Latin roots of these words had different meanings.
The Latin word for heart is cor. This is source of the word courage in English
In the world of ancient Latin, the heart was not about emotion but about judgment. The heart was about thinking, making decisions, and making choices.
This means that courage is not just about bravado. It's not about taking on an enemy or a threat to demonstrate your strength. Fear is always part of a hero's journey. Courage requires the capacity to make judgments about what is more important than fear.