Title: Vico's age of heroes and the age of men in John Ford's film 'The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.' (Giambattista Vico)
Source: CLIO. 23.2 (Winter 1994): p131. From Literature Resource Center.
Document Type: Article
Vico, the father of historicism, discovered that the nature of man changes: the archaic man feels, thinks, acts in a way completely different from modern man. In Vico's scheme of the necessary evolution of every culture, three phases are distinguished: the age of gods, the age of heroes, and the age of men. The age of gods is characterized by a theocratic government: it is anterior to any differentiation of the various aspects of curlture such as religion, politics, or art. The age of heroes, on the other hand, is dominated by the conflict between classes, the heroes and the plebeians. This age does not yet have a state; therefore, force and violence reign. The right of the stronger is the main ground of legitimacy. Two types of relations are characteristic of this age: the relation between enemies who fight each other, risking their own lives and those of their combatants, and the relation between master and servant. The duel, a fight between two heroes accompanied by their servants, is the symbolic action of the heroic age. In it the value of a person is proved, even constituted. Relations toward wives in the age of heroes are clearly asymmetric: women are not yet recognized as having the same human nature as men. "Love of ease, tenderness toward children, love of women, and desire of life" are alien to the heroes, so Vico once sums up his view of the heroic age.(1) CONTINUED