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Sakralität und Heldentum. Zum Relationsgeflecht von Heroischem und Religiösem


The heroic and the sacred are attribute categories of exceptionality. A relation between sacredness and the heroic can be seen in time periods as early as Greek Antiquity, when heroes were the centers of cults and part of the religious sphere, not to mention that the transition from heroic to godly was relatively fluid in polytheism. But a relation is also observable during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, and in general within the scope of monotheistic religions considering the simultaneity of heroes, saints, prophets and martyrs, but also with regard to victim discourses. In the 19th and 20th centuries the sacralization of the nation and nationalization of the religious were unthinkable without heroizations and heroisms: This is precisely when sacralized leaders emerged. And even if numerous ‘national heroes’ today have lost their sacred aura, heroic figures have received new functions in other, partly religiously-defined experiential spaces, as, for example, diverging heroizations surrounding the events of September 11, 2001, would indicate. In this respect, it is unmistakable that religion and the heroic, sacralization of the heroic and heroization of the sacred are closely related.

This conference will address this inter-relatedness between the heroic and the sacred with regard to the various religious and social contexts. This phenomenon is to be examined not only as to how different religious ideologies differ but also as one historically transitioned into another. The analysis will also take into account typical figures with ‘heroic’ attributes as well as symbolic languages that are applied in areas of the sacred and/or the heroic.

This leads to such questions as what specific qualities unique to a religion are attributed to sacred figures and how do these qualities relate to the contemporary heroic? What are distinctive or shared symbolic languages? Where, why and how are saints, martyrs and prophets created or ‘recognized’ in contrast to or, in fact, in combination with heroic figures? How does the godly relate to each of these types of the heroic? This conference will primarily focus on firstly clarifying what qualities are distinct to that heroism which is defined in context by sacredness; secondly, how the heroic’s symbolic languages function and, finally, in what sense the heroic is reassessed in a religious context and/or also receives a sacred aura outside of the narrowly-defined religious.

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