Myths, heroes and………..Totti.

fall-of-pha-thon-greek-mythology-2996236-800-584I’ve always enjoyed reading stories about myths, legends, courageous men ready to sacrifice their lives for the sake of their country or even only for the beauty of a woman. The main actors of these stories where the heroes, who actually embodied the highest expression of  the values of their society: loyalty, honour, love for the country, sacrifice. With their deeds, which were narrated in long epic poems, they were the symbols of the power, pride but also ethics of their people, thus contributing, through a natural process of identification, in the making of what could be called national awareness.

192964_oHeroes could not be commoners, for sure, because the greatness of the values they embodied had a divine nature that could be found either in their breed, for example Achilles, whose mother was the nymph Thetis or in their name, as for  Beowulf. Beowulf, in fact,  means “bee wolf” (which was supposed to be a metaphor for a bear): “the wolf that eats honey“, from which it was extracted ambrosia, the food of gods. He was, therefore, one of them. The values heroes embodied were universal and worked as glue of past more primitive societies, thus creating the basis of modern ones. At this point, I always ask my students a question: are there any such heroes nowadays? Men or women that could be the expression of universal values? They usually ponder for a while, then they come up with the usual defiant answer: Totti.

tottiTotti, who? I guess you would ask. Well, Totti happens to be an Italian footballer, particularly popular here in Rome as he is the captain of A.S.Roma. The answer is quite provocative, as they know well that I am a great fan of the other team here in Rome S.S.Lazio. On Sundays , but often for the whole week, the atmosphere here is always something like, Capulets vs Montague,Guelphs vs Ghibellines,Trois vs Sparta and Lazio vs Roma. Thus, you may understand how that name can be particularly odious to me. However, despite the choice of the man, is it such a wrong answer? Can an action of a  footballer or a team have the same function of glorious heroic deeds? Yes.

7FEVER-PITCH1997_1835603iNick Hornby in his autobiographical book  Fever Pitch: A Fan’s life , well describes how football works in the mind of supporters. It is glue. Football is the common ground that allows the protagonist Paul Ashworth, an English teacher, to re-create a relationship with his father after the divorce and at the same time he finds in the other supporters of Arsenal that family he needs, with whom sharing the deeds of the present, the hopes for a better future and the stories of a glorious past. Time is felt as seasonal, therefore reassuring, cyclical, never-ending. We may discuss upon the values football expresses, however, people gather around those values and find motivations, passion, frustration but also happiness. For ninety minutes they/we feel alive in a never-ending dream.

It is sad, however, that they couldn’t spot anybody else. How could I blame them? After all the society they had been brought up fabricates powerful models, who invite to a process of identification in order to make profit (football included). The beautiful “lightness” of values is thus replaced by the “heaviness” due to the craving of things. Therefore, once men are emptied of their values, they cannot but  become just like those “dried tubers” of T.S.Eliot ‘s Waste Land, who don’t seem to find any good reason to live and just like “broken images” wander pointlessly in this world, unless……………Totti comes 😦




62 thoughts on “Myths, heroes and………..Totti.

  1. Pingback: Myths, heroes and………..Totti. | MARSocial Author Business Enhancement Interviews

  2. Am I to read that Mr Run and yourself are involved the Lazio vs Roma discussion? 🙂
    I enjoyed your comparison of modern day sports heroes to the mythological ones.

  3. Golly, I enjoyed that. I’d forgotten about Totti but he certainly has heroic qualities. I like a journey into the land of heroes; we used to take students out into Somerset and Wiltshire and tell them the Arthur stories while sitting at Cadbury Castle or on Glastonbury Tor. For a modern hero from England I’d pick Steve Prescott the ex rugby league player. Partly because he came from the opposite background to classical heroes; no nymph for mother he. And he plied his trade in the least romantic of the English sports. But mainly for the non melodramatic way he turned terminal illness into inspiration in his last years. Glorious, heroic deeds performed with dignity against a proletarian backcloth.

  4. It is so hard to find heroic role models truly worthy of admiration, particularly today. Many of those of the past may have had faults by today’s standards, but they were faithful to the ideals of the time. Now you occasionally get those who seem perfect, only to be shot down by their own actions or failures (like Jaqui Kennedy, Diana and Charles, Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods or Oscar Pistorius) or by the machinations of a malicious press – or both. There was a lot to be said for the bygone courtesy of glossing over minor faults or mistakes in role models, to keep their example unsullied.

    • I’m not a football fanatic at all but the late George Best comes to mind — a dazzling player who played fast and lived fast until alcoholism claimed him. Many culture heroes similarly went against the grain to gain benefits for humanity but were often regarded as something other, extraordinary, not normal, too complex for their own good, sometimes sowing the seeds of their own destruction.

  5. Maybe like the say of empires and emperors each generation has the heroes it deserves. But then I guess there are people in sports who are not like that…one hopes…At least you got the discussion going…

    • The hero of today is different from the medieval hero.
      Today we can’t find a figure representing all the right values.
      even the kids today speak especially of sports.
      Also Nelson Mandela, in the film Invictus, unites a country through rugby.
      It makes me laugh to think that today we call hero a soccer player, although I greatly admire totti.
      But perhaps it is a reflection of today’s society.

  6. I don’t think that football is the last frontier where heroes can be found , although football can give its fans a sense of unity and a dream . Today we can’t talk about one typical hero like in the past , however there are a lot of heroes who are loyal , honest, courageous and ready to sacrifice themselves as the heroes of the past. These people are normal everyday people whose names we don’t hear .We can find them among doctors and nurses that go to save lives in the 3rd world countries and the war zones of the world.

  7. Even if I am a fan of A.S. Roma I don’t think that Totti is a hero.
    Nowadays we live in a globalized society and it’s hard to find a different person; in the post there were small communities where it was possible to find easily a hero.
    Today in my opinion it is so difficult to become a superhero, but you can be a “small hero”: if you do little things to help others you can make life easier to your friends and you can feel satisfied of yourself.


  8. Hi teacher
    I read your post and I have a lot of pointS to demonstrate thar Totti is a real hero:
    The positives ones are:
    – Totti “fightes” for his team
    – Totti loves the people who love his team and not only him
    -Totti has a great heart for his team and for his city
    The negatives points that cannot make a real hero are:
    -Totti DOESN’T sacrifice his life how the heroes of the past did.
    -he DOESN’T fight for the values of his city/country

    So I think that Totti is a different hero if we compare him to the heroes of the past. Totti is a football hero.

  9. I think that the heroes of this period are different from medieval heroes. Because a hero has to be: strong,loyal,brave and honest. In the medieval era the hero was a person with these features and today it isn’t the same. For example Robin Hood was a hero and he had all these features. Today we think that a hero is Francesco Totti because he was and still is very loyal and honest, but he is neither brave nor strong, so for me Totti isn’t a hero. I’m also a Rome fan.

  10. Hi teacher,
    as a student and an A.S. Roma supporter I would obviously say that Totti is a hero.He is and has always been an example for adults and children of integrity and loyalty, and he has made millions of people dream during his matches. I think that the fact he is still and idol for the people even now that he isn’t in no longer young and barely plays is the proof that is a hero by all means. However,I agree with you with the fact that he is a different kind of hero , different from old warriors.

    Tiziano Salvoni 3E

  11. Hi teacher,
    I’m so sorry but I’m another supporters of A.S. Roma.
    A lot of guys and adults believe that Totti is an hero(like in the past),but in my opinion it isn’t like that.
    Ancient heroes sacrificed themselves for their country or for a common ideal (as you said previously) and I think Francesco, that I admire very much as a man and a footballer,wouldn’t do that.
    Today it is hard to find and to become a common hero because now in the world there are too many different culture.
    So to conclude I think that nowadays there isn’t a hero that could be the expression of universal values.

  12. Hi teacher,
    In my opinion nowadays there aren’t people that we can consider heroes like in the medieval times. I consider Francesco Totti, as you said, a different kind of hero. He has been a symbol for all the A.S. Roma fans for what he did for his team. I think that real heroes are people who fight for a right ideal ,like Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King.

  13. Good evening teacher,
    I really appreciate this comparison among the heroes of the past and the heroes of today.
    But above all I appreciate the comparison between the ancient rivalry and rivalry today as Guelfi-Ghibbellini and Roma-Lazio.
    I am one of the students who would say that is a hero today, and I do not want to be provocative because you prefeer S.S.Lazio..

  14. Hi prof I read this article and I think that it is a very interesting topic.
    Maybe someone cannot understand what Totti represents for Romans and Roman supportes.
    He never betrayed his origin and his team.
    He also does a lot of charity.
    So He is a grat person.

    Have a nice evening. FEDERICO 3e

    • Hi teacher,
      I really appreciated your article and what it tries to explain. Nowadays, in a a society that is completely different from ancient times and the middle age, other values now make a person a hero. While,in the past, heroes embodied the love for their country or the determination to save somebody, today people who are called “heroes” represent questionable values such as the popularity or the opulence: in my opinion, they lost the meaning they had before, which consisted in unifying people of the same nation or group, although they had different points of views. For instance, Totti or other footballers cannot be considered heroes if we compare them with ancient heroes.
      However, still today there are people who are trying to save the world from serious problems as deforestation, water lack, discriminations: they definitely can be called heroes, even if we often do not think about them at all,because they work silently: thanks to their actions in the future we will live in a better world.

  15. Hi teacher,
    I’m a fan of Rome but I don’t think Totti can be a hero. For me a hero is a person who fights for right ideals and has the sense of loyalty and justice as a medieval hero.
    I think a hero is not as the sportsman Totti but a hero is anyone who helps others and fight for freedom and equality among peoples.
    bye bye Francesco

  16. I theacher
    I read this post and I think that now there are no more heros because people don’t sacrify their lives for other people but I think that soldiers are heroes because they defend people . I my opinion another hero was Nelson Mandela because he stood for and fought for black people for their rights and went to the jail.

  17. Hi Prof.
    After I read this topic I can say that in my opinion the comparison between the old and the recent heroes is correct, because in our developed society there aren’t heroes who can save us and our future, and for this reason the people have football players and other sportsmen as heroes based on their preferences. For example, I’m not A.S.Roma supporter and even if I think that Totti is a great person and a great player, my hero is Buffon because he is a legend and he has been the captain of my favorite team for a long time.

    Ettori 3E

  18. Hi Teacher,
    I believe Totti cannot represent a hero or a myth: he is a very famous person among soccer fans .I believe heroes are those people fully engaged on humanitarian activities. For example I am thinking about firemen.I also consider heroes people who fight for a better world.

  19. Hi Teacher,

    I feel particularly awakened by this article and this topic in general because I strongly disagree with people who dare say that their favourite footballers could be considered heroes.Personally I’m not that interested in football but I understand the love and passion for their teams and players,I myself have interests such as music,singing and all arts in general.However,as much as I can love,respect and be inspired by an artist or musician,I wouldn’t ever consider them heroes.Although footballers have a passion, they’re nonetheless people who play for money and/or fame. So who can we consider real heroes then? Well in my opinion heroes are people who dream,work,inspire,have morals, they’re people who have values,people who are strong, people who stand for what’s right and people who won’t tolerate injustice.Real heroes are people such as Nelson Mandela,Martin Luther King,Gandhi,Oskar Schindler and many others.Aside from particular names,other heroes from our time include people in the army,people who fight for human and/or animal rights,such as animal activists,vegans,environmentalists and feminists.People who do good deeds in general,people who help the homeless and poor,the suffering animals,the suffering planet,even just people who help others in their personal lives,such as helping the mentally ill,the depressed and the suicidal.Anyone could potentially be a hero and I can only aspire to become like one of these people one day.These people have all my respect and that’s why I’m so triggered and get easily mad when someone uses the word “hero” out of context.Always remember who the real heroes are.

  20. Hi teacher,
    People have always had heroes to admire as behaviour models.
    In the past they were warriors, soldiers, patriots or other people who made courageous actions.
    Today, instead, many young people prefer to worship actors, singers and athletes.
    They often don’t rEPresent values as honesty, heroism or ethics but they became idols thanks to media power and marketing tools and because today it’s more important richness, success and fame than the values of the past.
    I like music and sport and I appreciate some singers and athletes but they aren’t my models.
    Alice Galli 3E

  21. Reading this post I asked myself: who were heroes in the past, and who are heroes today?
    If I think about the past, I consider heroes those people who made history: leaders, scientists, kings, explorers and anybody else who stood out for something extraordinary. Nowadays people consider heroes famous actors, singers or sport players; but can they be considered heroes? They are certainly talented, but they usually don’t sacrifice their life for homeland.
    Real heroes of our time are people who stand out for something extraordinary, like Nelson Mandela who fought for rights of blacks in his country, Malala who fights for women’s fights in Pakistan, or the major of Lampedusa who is helping hundreds and hundreds of immigrants.
    The latters are real heroes, for me.

  22. Good evening teacher
    The topic is very interesting. The comparison between old heroes who sacrificed their liVes for an ideal, an a football player who represents a model to follow for his supporters, may be shared by the fans but common people who do not follow this sport might not agree with the high consideration given to a sport player. For example, volunteers for organizations such as “Doctors without Borders” and “Emergency” are a kind of today’s heroes.

  23. Onestly I think that Totti can’t be considered as an hero for everyone in our society , cause in my opinion your hero is someone who represents YOUR values. So I mean that Totti can be an hero for a Roma fan or a football lover, but for example he’s not my hero beacuse during his career he has done some mistakes that don’t represent my values.

  24. I think today the word hero has changed its meaning. In the past a hero was a person who has done great deeds and was more or less admired by everyone. Today a hero is simply a person we estimate, so each of us has a different hero. For example, for some (including me) Totti is a hero, for others Cristiano Ronaldo could be a hero, for others Valentino Rossi …

  25. Hi teacher.
    I read this article and I am partially agree with that because I think that we can’t compare heroes like Achilles or Beowulf to Totti because they belong to different ages.Obviously to me Totti is a sort of hero also because he represent that values like honour,loyalty,sacrifice and so much love for his team and his city.

  26. I think that totti is an hero….but of the soccer. There are many heroes ,even a simple man could be it ; for example a dad can be the son’s hero .

  27. In our society, nobody gives importance to the values. We don’t even care about our country; infact we escape from Italy instead of trying to change something. We have no idea of what honor is, we are not brave. We only follow money and honestly I can’t think about a great personality in the politic life.
    I can see some values only in the sport. It is strange for us that someone is attached to his team and refuses money and opportunities only for this reason. That’s why we appreciate it so much. Because it’s not common nowaday. We are surprised to see that somewhere someone still gives importance to values. But i’m asking myself, if we appreciate him so much, why we seem not to care about any value? Why we only care about our self? We don’t care about our city, our country, we don’t care about the truth! There is still mafia in Italy because we don’t fight for destroying it all togheter, we are not brave enough to change things.

  28. I don’t like football very much, but I support ASR as well. I think that every famous person can be a hero for somebody, but, we choose our heroes.

  29. I think everyone has one own hero like a person you would like to become (even a renowned footballer) and we can’t compare heroes of this century to heroes of more than one thousand years ago, because the society has changed with the mindset of people.

  30. Hi teacher!! My thought about the article is that over time people have also changed and without a doubt even the principles that people have … Initially the gods were the current “stars” to which people were inspired trying to be in any way equal to them. Today in a world where consumerism dominates everything, people not try to be like gods, but try to be like the most popular people of the time: actors, players, musicians …

  31. Hi teacher!!
    Yes, today, still exist the heroes, but, for me, this word has changed the meaning, because they don’t represent universal values like once, but every person can have different heroes, and usually they can be famous pepole ( who we admire very much) like footballer, actors, singers… but obviously they can be too people like our parents, or anyway an important person for us. Finally i think that have a hero isn’t a bad thing, because it can be for us an example to follow and then to do well.

  32. Hi teacher, despite I am a great fan of A.S.Roma and Totti I do not think he can be considered a hero. I regard him as a player who has given everything to his team avoiding money or other opportunities that would have enabled him to win all the trophies that a player can aspire. I believe that heroes nowadays are those who fight everyday for their country going to war risking their lives and sometimes unfortunately losing it.

  33. Hi teacher! I think that Totti can be considered a hero for everything he has given to his team and for everything he has given fans with his spells in the field but also with all this I do not think he should be considered a hero maybe like a football hero.

  34. Hi teacher!
    One time the heroes were those who had strong values, who they fought for their country. Furthermore they were perfect people, almost divinity. But in our society heroes are characters that we estimate and imitate. They could be footballer, singer or actor. But also relatives or friends. About Totti I think is a fantastic person and he was a great footballer who gave all for A.S Roma, certainly an example for us, but is not a hero. Heroes are the ones that improve the world.

  35. hi teacher
    about this report, I was very impressed, on the fact that a footballer like totti, or many others footballer, or ever a whole soccer team can be defined as heroes.
    in reality I never thought how can be important the behavior of a footballer for his fan.
    with the word “hero” I think about achille, or ulisse for example.
    they were heroes who fought for their life, their friends, and their homeland, with strong values, even risking their lives.
    maybe the fact that I’m not a great fan of the football game, it didn’t make me think that they couldn’t be real heroes, examples for many people, and how their values, their point of view, their behaviors can be so much important for their fans.
    but a play like football, which is a team game, joins the fans with each other who cheering for a one and big common interest.

  36. In my opinion nowadays heroes cannot be completely compared to the past ones because at that time they were fictional characters (with supernatural powers, too) and didn’t belong to real life in this world.
    On the contrary, today we have common people as idols, men and women we admire because of some of their features.
    I think that this is a big difference, we don’t have the same conception of “hero” that ancients had, because world and society are changed of course, but mostly because we could never find a woman or man that embodies all the values we believe in.

  37. Yes, we could say that Totti is a modern Hero but I think only becuase he’s the best we can afford. He surely might be a good persone (personally I can’t say since I’m not passionate of football) but what kind of message does ne spread? I don’t see what values he could rappresent. Besides nowdays the society we live in is centered only in One thing: money. The Old Hero, the One Who was all for the country, the common good and the right is gone, and so all they stood for. But It can’t bè denied that those modern Heroes have a certain influence in their fan, but It doesn’t seem that they’re using It for the greater good.

  38. Nowadays there aren’t anymore the values of the past, they are changed I think probably because of the society which doesn’t have the same ideas of the past but in my opinion Totti is not a bad example. He has been loyal to his team from the first day until the end and obviously he is also a good player. There will be a reason if so many people estimate and believe him.

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