Following this, the term 'hero'/'heroine' came the refer to characters who, in the face of danger and adversity or from a position of weakness, display courage and the will for self-sacrifice - that is, heroism - for some greater good of all humanity. This definition originally referred to martial courage or excellence but extended to more general moral excellence.
Stories of heroism serve as moral examples. In classic antiquity, hero cults- veneration of deified heroes such as Hercules, Perseus and Achilles, played an important role in Ancient Greek religion.
The word 'hero' came to the English language in 1387, meaning 'warrior', and literally 'protector' and 'defender' and came from the name of the Greek Goddess 'Hera', the Goddess of marriage and the word 'heros', to 'safeguard'.
Etymology: Latin heros, from Greek hErOs
1 a: a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability; b: an illustrious warrior; c: a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities; d: one that shows great courage.
2 a: the principal male character in a literary or dramatic work; b: the central figure in an event, period, or movement.
-- from Merrian-Webster.
This area contains a selection of some of the most famous heroes and heroines of classical mythology, as well as from Norse, Celtic, and Japanese myth and legend. The entries can be found in the other mythology and folklore areas but are ordered here for your convenience.