Epic heroes in literature include Achilles, Aeneas, Arjuna, Beowulf, Gilgamesh, Grettir, Odysseus, Roland and Rostam. An epic hero is the central character in an epic poem, which is a book-length narrative that chronicles the adventures of noble characters during events important to a culture or nation.
Achilles is the epic hero of the "Iliad," written by the Greek writer Homer. The "Iliad" tells the story of how Achilles led the Greeks into war against the Trojans. Odysseus is the hero of another epic poem by Homer, the "Odyssey," in which Odysseus tries to find his way home to Troy before suitors pressure his wife into marriage. Aeneas is the hero of the Roman epic the "Aeneid," written by Virgil, which picks up where the "Iliad" ends.
The "Epic of Gilgamesh" is the earliest known work of literature in the world, created around 2,000 B.C. Its Assyrian hero, Gilgamesh, is a demigod. In 350 B.C., The "Mahabharata" was written in India. This 220,000-line poem features Arjuna as the hero who meets the Hindu god Krishna. Beowulf is the epic hero of the eighth-century poem named after him. Rostam is the epic hero of the 11th-century Persian epic "Shahnameh." Around the same time in Western Europe, "The Song of Roland" appeared, detailing the chivalrous exploits of its hero, Roland. Grettir is the hero of the epic poem called the "Icelandic Sagas," written in the 13th or 14th century.