We use [extraordinary people] as they are always used by a culture: to inspire ordinary lives by displaying their own potentialities. Extraordinary people excite; they guide they warn; standing, as they do, in the corridors of imagination - statues of greatness, personifications of marvel and sorrow - they help us carry what comes to us as it came to them. They give our lives an imaginary dimension.
That's what we look for when buying biographies and reading the secret intimacies of the famous, their luck, their errors, their gossip. Not to pull them down to our level, but to lift ours, making our world less impossible through familiarity with theirs. Without these exemplars of the daimon we have no other category of the extraordinary except diagnostic psychopathology.
These personifications of heightened imagination burn right into the soul and are its teachers. Not only the hero and hero-worship, but tragic figures too, beauties and comics and crones and handsome leading men.
The Soul's Code: In Search of Character and Calling, p.32
Uses of Heroes | Introduction