It means "able to choose" in Greek. Have you ever heard of "The Quest of the Holy Grail?" It's an Arthurian legend. The knights of King Arthur see an apparition of the Grail through a veil and set out on a quest to find it, at first they agree on doing so as a team, but as they set on the journey they realize that it takes more than that-so each goes their own way when they reach the forest. Thus the famous quote 'each entered the forest at a point he, himself, had chosen, where it was darkest and there was no path.'
This reminds me of 'The Road less Travelled." Hairέtikos is the root word closely linked to heresy and heretic, but mostly linked to heroes. A hero is a chooser, always picking the road less travelled over the highway packed with people.
A hero is one who sets out on a quest and whether we accept this or not-every one of us is on a quest. We start by asking questions. Hence the "quest-is-on" for us. What makes some of us heroes is the fact that they keep at what they are doing no matter what comes their way. I find Joseph Campbell's perspective very true in this case, when once asked what makes a man extraordinary he said 'the usual person is more than content, he is even proud, to remain within the indicated bounds, and popular belief gives him every reason to fear so much as the first step unexplored.' Simply put the ordinary man does not seek to stretch or get out of their comfort zone. There are many legends that seek to explain and give accounts of what happened and how a person grew in character and actions. Even in Literature when you read a book, you look into how much the character has grown from page one to the last page. If they have he/she is called a round character, if not he/she is a flat character. Isn't it funny that the character is referred to as round, yet whatever is round doesn't have a definite beginning or end? So you cannot tell for sure how much change or growth has occurred to a character- you can only assume, isn't Literature just beautiful?
For the Knights, what mattered most was asking the right questions and making the right decisions however unexplainable they might have been at that moment. It is the same with people now-when you set on something that has immense personal value you are the only person who knows how important it is to you-it's because your whole being yearns for it. So, does that mean that everyone is a hero? Well, inasmuch as I think well of people-sadly it ain't. Everyone has the potential to do their best and not settle for something because they simply can. Every person can create or show their best and at their best they are self-actualized, but not all have set on this path. A friend once said online that 'who wants to think when there's Google?' His comment drew over fifteen takes but still it makes you wonder, wouldn't it be awesome to appreciate the fact that no search engine, shrink or human being alive can ever tell our exact worth in terms of what you can create or bring forth?
Your quest is on.
Ravenscroft, Trevor. The Cup Of Destiny: The Quest for the Grail. New York: Samuel Weiser, 1982.
Jung, Emma and Marie-Louise Von Franz. The Grail Legend. Boston: Sigo Press, 1986.