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"The Roots of Heroism": An Interview with Prof. Dr. Ralf von den Hoff and Dr. Martin Kovacs

"The Roots of Heroism": An Interview with Prof. Dr. Ralf von den Hoff and Dr. Martin Kovacs

Alexander at the Battle of Issus (333 BC) [Credit:]

A young, clean-shaven face and a cowlick growing upwards like on a lion’s mane: these two characteristics are typical of portraits of Alexander the Great. The lack of beard emphasizes Alexander’s youthful strength and the successes that he achieved while he was young. His wavy, center-parted hair, whorling above the forehead and falling around his face in the anastolé style, reflects portrayals of the gods. “Alexander the Great marked a change in the way that rulers were stylized”, says Freiburg archaeologist Dr. Martin Kovacs. “The manner in which Alexander presented himself and in which he was portrayed changed the style for his successors. They often adopted characteristics such as beardlessness in their own portraits.”

Freiburg researchers at the Collaborative Research Center 948 “Heroes – Heroizations – Heroisms” are looking into heroic figures across history, visual studies, literature and the social sciences from Ancient Greece to today. “We have determined that heroes are much more than just role models who have accomplished something extraordinary”, explained the classical archaeologist Prof. Dr. Ralf von den Hoff, speaker of the SFB. “Heroes are polarizing figures and also embody the negative sides of conflicts.” In the second funding period, which began in July 2016, the researchers have turned their attention to the 20th and 21st centuries as well as transcultural connections.

The interview in its entirety can be viewed on the following page.

Video "Die Wurzeln des Heldentums" - Prof. von den Hoff und Dr. Kovacs im Interview