The Crimean War and the Military

© 2013, Sarah Lane
The Heroes, Or Greek Fairy Tales for My Children

Figure 2: Theseus Slays the Minotaur. [Theseus] caught him by the horns, and forced his head back, and drove his keen sword through his throat (p.162).

In 1855, when Kingsley wrote The Heroes, England was fighting against the Russians in the Crimean War (“Crimean War”). War is a time when young men, theoretically, go off to fight a common enemy for the benefit of the greater good. This is similar to what the heroes experience in Kingsley’s text. Theseus, for example, ventures out across the country, defeating evil monsters, to reclaim the land for himself and his people (see figure 2). Many of the soldiers who fight in real life wars, as well as the young heroes of the Greek myths, begin their journeys as boys but are matured by their experience and come home as men. Through his reiteration of these Greek myths, Kingsley is showing young boys, for whom the threat of war is very real and the possibility of one day becoming a soldier very likely, that men, particularly warriors, can be heroes. For this reason, it is understandable that Kingsley’s book has continued to be published long after his death. War, unfortunately, plagues the world quite frequently. Whether it be on a grand scale such as the world wars, or on a smaller civil war scale, many young men, and now women, have to do as the Greek heroes did and go out and fight for what they believe is right. In 1912, when this edition of The Heroes was published, England was not at war (though WWI would begin only two years later), but their military was still developing and preparing young soldiers for conflict (“The Army Manoeuvres of 1912”). Therefore, this edition of The Heroes still served a similar purpose as Kingsley’s original version, in that it taught children about heroism and how to be a soldier for the Lord.