Comparative Mythology Research Project: Analysis of the Concept of a Hero's Journey

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In my opinion Classical, African, and American mythologies are unique, interesting, and some myths were very cruel. In Classical mythology, Daphne was transformed into a laurel tree, in African mythology Isis resurrected her brother and husband Osiris by burying his body, and in American mythology the Xibala twins came back to life after being dead for 6 days. All mythologies have something in common because they all revolve around the same objective: A Hero's Journey, most stories are alike, and they are all made up of the same steps in the journey a hero takes.

These mythologies connect to step 7 because they all talk about reincarnation. The gods wither progress from a state of non-life to a state of life or they symbolise a discovery of identity that created a new person. In the Greek story “The Rescue of Alcestis”, Alcatis came back to life after Heracles wrestled with death at her grave. “The warrior Heracles rescued Alcestis by wrestling at her grave with death.” (Wilkinson and Philip 56). Apollo helped Admalus win the hand of Alcestis, the beautiful daughter of Pelios. But then Apollo found out that Admetus didn't have long to live. He tried to influence the fates, the goddesses who determine human destiny, to let him live longer. The fates told him that the only way they would let Admetus live was if someone else died instead. Alcestis was such a loyal wife that she decided to be the one to die instead of her beloved husband. Then, Heracles rescued him by wrestling with death at her grave. Alcestis was such an amazing person that she died for Admetus. But she was rescued by Heracles. He wrestled at her grave with death itself to save Alcestis. Another example of resurrection is Dionysus. He was rebirthed after Zeus made Semele eat his heart. “She gave her Heart to Zeus, who gave it to Semele to eat. Semele later gave birth to Dionysus again.” Syonisus was the son of Zeus, the god of thunder and Demeter, goddess of harvest. Hera grew jealous and persuaded the Titans to kill him. Even though Syonisus was disguised as a baby goat, the Titans located him and tore him to pieces. The Titans ate all of his body except the heart, which was rescued by Athena. Athena then gave it to Zeus, who gave it to Semele so she can eat it. Not long after, she gave birth to Dionysus again. The story if Dionysus connects to step 7 of A Hero's Journey because Dionisus was killed by the Titans and came back to life when her mother ate her heart. Dionysus goes from a state of non life to a state of life again. He not only gets resurrected, but is also rebirthed. Just like Dionysus, the Xibalba twins were also resurrected. The Xibalba twins returned to life after being killed by the gods. “ but 6 days later, the twins returned to Xibabla, handsome as ever.” (Wilkinson and Philips 210). Two twins desturbed the gods because they made a lot of noise when they were playing ball just like their father and his twin. The gods took them to a cave and gave them a cigarette. They told them to keep it lit until they came back the next morning when they came back. They couldn't keep it lit so one of the twins stuck their head out to see if the gods were coming back. But he ended up getting his head chopped off by a bat. The twins ended up coming back to life and boasting about how they could resurrect anyone. The gods were so impressed they wanted to try it out for themselves and asked the twins tol bring them back to life. The twins avenged their father by not bringing them back to life. Just like the Xibalba twins, in African mythologies Osiris was resurrected and proved himself. “Eventually, Isis and her sister Nephtys found and buried all the pieces, except the phallus, thereby giving new life to Osiris…”(Lotha Britannica). Osiris, the first king of Egypt, was killed by his brother, Seth. Seth tore the corps into 14 pieces. Osiris’ sister-wife, Isis and her sister Nephtys eventually found all 14 pieces. They buried all of them and brought them back to life. But he went to the underworld to be ruler and judge. His son Horus then went on to become the new King of Egypt. The story explains how Osiris is killed by his brother and resurrected by his sister-wife. The mysteries of Osiris connects to step 7, resurrection and rebirth because the story talks about the steps it took to resurrect him. Osiris went from a state of non-life to life when Isis and Nephtys buried his parts. As you can see, All mythologies have something in common including their steps. Alcestis was rescued when Heracles wrestled with death at her grave, the Xibalba twins came back to life after being killed by the gods, and Osiris was resurrected after his sister-wife buried him. These mythologies connect to step 7 because they all get resurrected. The gods either progress from a state of non life to a state of life or symbolise a discovery of identity that created a new person. In these stories, all of the main characters come back to life.

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Another step in a hero's journey that I found interesting is step 8, ascension and apotheosis. These stories go with step 8 because the gods don't die, they become a symbol or a legend. The hero also leaves life without dying. In the greek myth “The Fate of Daphne”, Daphne leaves life without dying because she turns into a tree. “Her prayers were answered and she was transformed into a laurel tree.” (Wilkinson and Philips 48). Apollo was a successful archer and he made fun of Eros, the god of love, by derating his attempts to archery. This made Eros very upset and to get back at Apollo, he shot a gold tipped arrow, which makes the target fall in love, at Apollo. Then he shot a led tipped arrow, which makes the victim abhor anything romantic, at the nymph Daphne. As Apollo chased her around, she prayed to Zeus to be transformed so he would not catch her. Zeus answered her prayers and transformed her into a laurel tree. This story relates to step 8 in a hero's journey because Daphne was turned into a laurel tree. She did not necessarily die or stay alive. Daphne left life without dying. Another greek story that could be suitable for step 8 is Percueus. Perseus was given a place in the stars forever. “He was given a place in the stars forever.”( Posidon got mad at Andromeda because she said that her daughter was the most admirable compared to his sea nymphs. In his rage, he tied her up to be eaten by the sea monster Cetus. Perceus killed Cetus and rescued her to be his wife. Because he was so brave in fighting he was so brave in fighting Cetus, to save the life of someone else, he was given a place in the stars forever. Perseus will never die because he will never fade from memory. He also becomes eternal because he goes to the stars. There, he has a place next to his beloved wife Andromeda. Just like Daphne and Perseus, in American mythology, Coyote is also an example for step 8, which is ascension and Apotheosis. Coyote disappears after he gets his eye stuck in the sky. “Since that day, Coyote’s eye is up in the sky, keeping an eye on everyone.”( Someone used to pinch the moon and one day he stopped. So Coyote offered to stand in as his replacement. But while he was up there he did some pretty bad things to people and soon, everyone voted him out of the sky. Coyote did not stay down there for long. One day, he juggled his eyeballs to impress some girls but one of his eyes got stuck in the sky. Now, he keeps an eye on everyone. He kind of becomes eternal because his eye is in the sky forever. Coyote becomes a legend and never fades from memory so in a way he never dies. Now his eye watches everyone so he never dies. Now his eye watches everyone so he left without dying. Just like in American mythology, there is also an example for step 8 in African mythology. Huveane could not take the noise that the world was making so he started climbing up into the sky and has not stopped since. “He is still climbing. If you sit back and listen to the world around you for a moment you may understand why.”(godchecker). After Huveane created the world he decided to sit back and relax. But not long after, all living things discovered sex and soon, everything was reproducing. With all the flirting, breeding, fighting, and arguing, the noise became too much for Huveane. He tried to get away from it by climbing into the sky. To this day, he is still climbing because the noise is too much for him no matter how far up he goes. In the story, Huveane never dies. He becomes a hero or a legend because he created the world. It seems like it will be the end of the story once he gets high enough. But it also seems Huveane will live forever because he can't seem to climb high enough to get away from the noise. These stories all relate to each other because the hero never dies and it sounds like the story is over. In all three stories, the hero's either transform, or leave life without dying and just disappear. They never fade from memory so they never die. Every mythology has something in common because of the way the stories are told or made. They also all have the same concept.

Step 4 in a Hero's Journey is trials and quest. Almost every myth is about trials or quests. The gods go on a mission or journey to accomplish a task or prove themselves in a way. It is the Journey within a hero's journey and it represents the obstacles that the hero has to go through during his life. In Greek mythology, Zeus had many obstacles he had to go through while on his quest. “After Zeus grew to manhood he led a revolt against the Titans and succeeded in dethroning Cronus, perhaps with the assistance of his brothers Hades and Poseidon, with whom he then divided dominion over the world.”( Zeus was the son of the leaders of the Titans. When Zeus’ mom, queen of Titans told Zeus to defeat his father. With the help of his brothers Hades and Poseidon, he revolted against the Titans. He eventually defeated his father and took the throne. He is now known as Zeus the god of the sky, lightning, and thunder and ruler of all gods on Mount Olympus. This relates to step 4 because as his quest, Zeus revolted against his father. Zeus also proves himself when he does this and becomes the new king. This was Zeus’ journey within the hero's Journey. Another example of step 4 in Greek Mythology was the story of Theseus and Ariadne. Just like Zeus, Theseus defeated the bad guy and proved himself. “Theseus managed to kill the Minotaur and save the Athenians, and with Ariadne’s thread he managed to retrace his way out.”( There was a rumor that the evil King Minos had an enormous maze under his castle. It was said that deep inside the maze, there was a man eating, half man half goat monster called a Minotaur. And that every year the king would feed it 7 men and 7 women. Theseus decided he would go into the maze and defeat the Minotaur. Ariadne fell deeply in love with him and decided that she would help Thesius. She told him a secret but in return he had to promise to marry her. He tied a small thread to the entrance of the maze and went on his journey. He defeated the Minotaur, followed the thread out of the maze, and went home to Ariadne. Thesius proved himself when he defeated the Minotaur. He traveled deep into the maze to complete a task which was to kill the Minotaur. This proves that Thesies’ story connects to step 7. In American mythology, an example of trial and quest is Glooskap. Glooskap went on so many quests that it is hard to name all of them. On the website, it says “Many legends bound.” meaning that the quests are basically all one myth since all of them connect. Glooskap was formed from the dust of Tabaldak’s hand. He once saved the world from an ocean swallowing monster. He also corrected the climate by binding the wings of the weather bird, saved the world's haunted animals by stuffing them in a bag, and saved the world's hunters by letting them all out again. This is related to step 4 because it shows that all myths are part of one. Step 4 is the journey within the Hero's Journey and Glooskap goes on so many. The quote indicates how there are many myths where Glooskap saves people. Just like in American mythology where Glooskap goes on a quest to save people, in African mythology Moses helps save all of the Israelities by leading them out of Egypt. “Moses led the Jews out of slavery in Egypt and led them to the holy land that God had promised them.”( God asked Moses to go on a quest to save the Israelites because he did not like the way that they were being treated in Egypt. He successfully led the Israelities out of Egypt and into the promise land, just like he was told to do. Then he was taken up into the mountains for 40 days and 40 nights. There, the lord instructed him with his 10 commandments and his vision for the Israelities. With that, Moses was able to instruct the people to live the way God wanted them to. Moses led the Jews out of Egypt and into the promise land. It represents the obstacles he had to go through. For example, the path he had to go through was in the desert, having to pass through the red sea, and a lot of his followers complained. He successfully got them out of Egypt and completed his quest. All of these mythologies are connected because they all go on missions and some heroes even refuse their call. Most stories are about how heroes or gods go on quests to prove themselves in some way. Just like how heroes from different mythologies have something in common, the stories are all revolved around the same concept which is that all of them go on dangerous missions to help save someone.

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