What are the characteristics of an epic hero?

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estoverl eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Traditionally, one thinks of characters such as King Arthur, Odysseus and Beowolf when the term epic hero comes to mind. Epic heroes are found in the adventures and myths of many cultures. They are charismatic, powerful and often arrogant characters belonging to some sort of heightened social status in most tales that include them.

An epic hero often stands out as the most handsome, strong and physically large character in a story. If not the main character, he will be one of the main characters. Though often intelligent or at least clever, the epic hero is not always the smartest person in the story. However, the epic hero will usually be the bravest character in the story, so brave that he/she sometimes acts foolishly or impulsively.

Although the epic hero almost always comes out a winner in the story, at times the epic hero makes poor choices due to some tragic flaw, such as that of being exceedingly arrogant.