Where the heroes went

For my book on Latin American architecture and urbanism, I've been re-reading Walter J. Ong's famous Orality and Literacy. This is because I think it will help explain why the Mayas, Mexicas, Incas et al. created urban forms so different from those of Europe. But meanwhile, there are other wonderful benefits of reading Ong (or Luriia, or Vygotsky, or Julian Jaynes, any of the other pioneers in thinking about how literacy transforms our thinking). This passage is an example:
As writing and eventually print gradually alter the old oral noetic structures, narrative builds less and less on 'heavy' [exaggerated] figures until, some three centuries after print, it can move comfortably in the ordinary human lifeworld typical of the novel. Here, in place of the hero, one eventually encounters even the antihero, who instead of facing up to the foe, constantly turns tail and runs away, as the protagonist in John Updike's Rabbit Run. The heroic and marvelous had served a specific function in organizing knowledge in an oral world. With the control of information and memory brought about by writing and, more intensely, by print, you do not need a hero in the old sense to mobilize knowledge in story form. The situation has nothing to do with a putative 'loss of ideals'. (Pp. 70-71)