The Hero of Men is a character mentioned in The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap. A legendary hero that saved Hyrule from evil during an ancient conflict known as the War of the Bound Chest, he was the first wielder of both the Picori Blade and the Light Force (having received both from the Picori/Minish), using both of them in unison to lock the Army of Evil away within the confines of the Bound Chest spoken of in Hylian lore. Sealing the chest with the Picori Blade itself, the Hero of Men passed on into legend over the generations and his deeds were still spoken of in songs and tales at the time of The Minish Cap. His true identity remains presently unknown, although he bears a remarkable resemblance to Link himself without his signature cap in the stained glass window images of him in the Elemental Sanctuary.
The War of the Bound Chest
- Main article: War of the Bound Chest
Long, long ago in the young, new land of Hyrule, a powerful army of monsters descended upon the land and began to wreak havoc on the kingdom. The world was on the verge of being swallowed by shadow as this army overwhelmed the land and threatened Hyrule's populace. Finally, when all hope seemed lost, a fine young man rose up to lead the campaign to repel the army of monsters. The tiny Minish ("Picori" to Hylians) descended from the skies and brought this young Hero a magical sword and a golden triangle that shone with a bright golden light. These two gifts, the Picori Blade and the Light Force respectively, gave the Hero great power and enabled him to beat back the beasts and lock them all away within an enchanted chest that came to be known in Hylian lore as the Bound Chest. The Hero used the Picori Blade itself to seal the Bound Chest. When peace had been restored, the people enshrined the Picori Blade with great care, leaving it in the care of the Royal Family of Hyrule. This Hero went down in history as henceforth being granted the title of the "Hero of Men."
The true identity of the Hero of Men is hotly debated amongst fans of the Legend of Zelda series, and currently there seem to be only two theorized candidates for his true identity, both seen in The Minish Cap.
King Gustaf was an ancient King of Hyrule countless ages before the events of The Minish Cap. In the game, his spirit returns to provide Link with the necessary Kinstone Piece that is required to access the Cloud Tops and thus reach the Palace of Winds where the Wind Element resides. Gustaf was alive around the theorized time that the War of the Bound Chest took place and thus is one of the few characters seen in the game that would match a description of the Hero of Men, provided he is seen at all within the game beyond the stained glass windows in the Elemental Sanctuary. Evidence to support Gustaf's candidacy as the Hero of Men includes:
- Gustaf was alive "countless ages ago", when the War of the Bound Chest was theorized to have occurred.
- He possessed the key Kinstone Piece necessary for one to retrieve the Wind Element from the Palace of Winds.
- He was obviously well-respected and influential even in isolated groups such as the Wind Tribe.
- He was featured prominently over all other former rulers of Hyrule in The Minish Cap.
- King Daltus' figurine states that he himself (a descendant of Gustaf) was a great swordsman in his youth and even fought to a draw with Smith in the Picori Festival Tournament; if swordsmanship runs in Daltus' line, then Gustaf was likely a competent swordsman as well, which the Hero of Men was noted to be.
- Both of the Hero's tools used in the War of the Bound Chest were in one way or another in the possession of the Royal Family of Hyrule (the Picori Blade stuck in the Bound Chest and the Light Force residing in Hyrule's princess); seeing that the Light Force originally belonged to the Hero of Men and was passed along the line of the Princesses of Hyrule thereafter, it would make sense that the Light Force got into the Princess' line through someone related to them.
- It would be fitting that as a reward for the Hero's actions in the War of the Bound Chest that he was made ruler of the young land of Hyrule and thus both of his tools used in the war were passed down his family line, with the Light Force ending up in the line of Princesses.
- It would mirror another instance in the series where a theorized former Hero returns from the grave to assist the new Hero in restoring peace to the land of Hyrule and defeating the same evil he himself fought (the Army of Evil), that other instance being the appearance of the Hero's Shade (the spirit of the Hero of Time according to Hyrule Historia) in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess returning to help the new Hero defeat the same evil he himself fought (Ganondorf); this could also be said for the second candidate as well however.
Swiftblade the First
Swiftblade the First was an ancient swordsman who appears as a ghost to train Link in the arts of the sword after learning seven new moves from the other Blade Brothers in The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap. Swiftblade also was alive in the past as was Gustaf, although there is no indicator of how long ago he lived, contrary to Gustaf who described his lifetime as taking place "countless ages ago." There does not seem to be as much evidence to support Swiftblade the First being the Hero of Men when compared to King Gustaf (who plays a more instrumental role in the story of The Minish Cap by helping Link advance in his quest for the Wind Element), although he remains a possible candidate for good reason.
- Swiftblade the First did live in the past, although there is no indicator of just how long ago it really was that he lived, making it difficult to determine if he was alive at the time of the War of the Bound Chest; given that his brothers are still alive (if they are his actual brothers), it would make it seem unlikely that Swiftblade the First could have been alive nearly as long in the past as King Gustaf.
- He is confirmed to be a highly skilled swordsman that lived in the past, starting the tradition of the Blade Brothers.
- As stated before, his candidacy for being the Hero of Men would also mirror the instance of the Hero's Shade and his training of the new Hero in Twilight Princess.
| Ezlo · King Daltus · Link · Princess Zelda · Smith · Vaati|
—Full list of characters
|Big Green ChuChu · Gleerok · Mazaal · Big Octorok · Gyorg Pair · Vaati Reborn · Vaati Transfigured · Vaati's Wrath|
| Castor Wilds · Cloud Tops · Eastern Hills · Hyrule Town · Lake Hylia · Lon Lon Ranch · Minish Woods · Mount Crenel · Mt. Crenel's Base · North Hyrule Field · Royal Valley · South Hyrule Field · Trilby Highlands · Veil Falls · Western Wood · Wind Ruins|
|Deepwood Shrine · Cave of Flames · Fortress of Winds · Temple of Droplets · Royal Crypt · Palace of Winds · Dark Hyrule Castle|
|Smith's Sword · White Sword · Four Sword · Small Shield · Mirror Shield · Bombs · Boomerang · Bow · Cane of Pacci · Gust Jar|
|Bottle · Flame Lantern · Flippers · Grip Ring · Mole Mitts · Ocarina of Wind · Power Bracelets · Roc's Cape|
|Elements · Kinstones · Tiger Scrolls|
|Deku · Fairy · Goron · Human · Hylian · Minish · Wind Tribe|