The oldest definition of the word implies that heroes with "exceptional acts" and therefore, mythological and legendary characters are the "most perfect examples" of heroes, argued sociologist Orrin E. Klapp in "Heroes, Villains and Fools, as Agents of Social Control." In 1934, Lord Raglan, a British soldier and scholar, examined the lives of Greek and Jewish heroes, what he called the "heroes of tradition," and found weaved throughout their stories. Some examples included the hero's father being a king, the audience knowing little of the hero's childhood and the hero's uneventful reign as king. Raglan then evaluated individual stories of heroes and scored them on the number of these common occurrences their individual story contained. The story of , the basis for his study, contained all 22 of the plot points, while the stories of and received nine points each, the fewest in the list. The related themes of these stories, Raglan argued, shows that although these men may have existed as real men once, their stories have been changed over time to fit a mold. Their stories were rewritten for the sake of art, Raglan added. It is this transformation from ordinary man to a man of legend that makes these heroes mythological and legendary.
The definition of hero expanded from the mythological in the 1660s to include men who prove their great bravery in any field from war to politics to humanitarian efforts, whether mythological or not, according to an .


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