The Hero as Divinity
The young generations of
the world, who had in them the freshness of young children, and yet the
depth of earnest men, who did not think that they had finished off all
things in Heaven and Earth by merely giving them scientific names, but
had to gaze direct at them there, with awe and wonder: they felt
better what of divinity is in man and Nature;they, without being mad, could
worship Nature, and man more than anything else in Nature. Worship,
that is, as I said above, admire without limit: this, in the full
use of their faculties, with all sincerity of heart, they could do.
I consider is, as I said above, admire without limit: this, in the
full use of their faculties, with all sincerity of heart, they could do.
I consider Hero-worship to be the grand modifying element in that ancient
system of thought. What I called the perplexed jungle of Paganism sprang,
we may say, out of many roots: every admiration, adoration of a star
or natural object, was a root or fibre of a root; but Hero-worship
is the deepest root of all; the tap-root, from which in a great degree
all the rest were nourished and grown.
And now if worship even of a star had some meaning in it, how much more might that of a Hero! Worship of a Hero is transcendent admiration of a Great Man. I say great men are still admirable; I say there is, at bottom, nothing else admirable! No nobler feeling than this of admiration for one higher than himself dwells in the breast of man. It is to this hour, and at all hours, the vivifying influence in man's life. Religion I find stand upon it; not Paganism only, but far higher and truer religions, all religion hitherto known. Hero-worship, heartfelt prostrate admiration, submission, burning, boundless, for a noblest godlike Form of Man, is not that the germ of Christianity itself? The greatest of all Heroes is One whom we do not name here! The greatest of all Heroes is One whom we do not name here! Let sacred silence meditate that sacred matter; you will find it the ultimate perfection of a principle extant throughout man's whole history on earth.