The individuality of contemporary Man traces its descent to the early forms of individuality that developed in Hellas from the 'heroic' age to Archaic times. In the context of traditional society, the first manifestations of individuality were expressed as contrapositions to it. This 'different' individual, going against the norms of the age and the group, was led to a form of isolation; but at the same time was invested with the respect and awe that his being different, his strength or his knowledge, inspired.

In Archaic Hellas we meet two main types of extramundane individual: the warrior hero, and the inspired prophet or magician. The figure of Achilles was the archetype of the first. Superhuman strength, resolution, and occasionally unreasoning courage were useful to the community, even when they made their appearance without any intention to be of service to it. At Athens the embodiment of this model was, even more even than Theseus, the person of king Codrus. Such models were in force in historical times too, as is proved by the case of Leonidas at Thermopylae, Cynegirus at Marathon, and the Sacred Band of Thebes. Their contemporaries did not hesitate to compare them with the Homeric hero, for like him they took the warrior ideal beyond its limits. By their death they transformed daring and being different into excellentness, and allowed the city to appropriate their example, promoting it and honouring it by institutions.

The other model was the unworldly sage, the visionary knowing past and future, the human being who talks to nature and the gods. Tiresias was undoubtedly the most celebrated example. These individuals were rendered holy by their abnormal way of life, their continual training, and their overcoming mortality. But on the other hand, their peculiarity and distance from their group allowed them to paly a regulative role in cases of crisis. Figures such as Epimenides, Hermotimus and Thales paved the way for the appearance of Solon, Pittacus or Empedocles. When in a quandary, a society would always seek out 'different' and 'separate' individuals to settle the crisis, alter the institutions, allay unrest, and purify the community. In the Classical period this type of 'holy sage' was to be replaced by the 'worldly sage', the typical example of whom was Socrates.

| introduction | structures | law | values | Archaic Period

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