1540s, "having or displaying the qualities of a hero," shortened from heroical (early 15c., also heroycus) "noble, magnanimous," from Latin heroicus "of a hero, heroic, mythical," from Greek hērōikos "of or for a hero, pertaining to heroes," from hērōs (see hero (n.1)). In some modern uses, "having recourse to extreme measures." The Heroic Age, semi-mythical prehistoric period in Greece, ended with the return of the armies from the fall of Troy. Related: Heroically. Heroic verse (1610s), decasyllabic iambic, is from Italian.