Thursday, March 22, 2018

The hero's journey

Ever since the 19C (James Frazer's The Golden Bough), some atheists have attempted to classify Jesus as a variation on the mythical hero archetype. One methodological problem with that tactic is the sheer variety of classification schemes. There are many different hero mythotype taxonomies, depending on which comparative sources are used, and which features are included or excluded to abstract a lowest common denominator. So the classification scheme is very rubbery. An atheist can mix-and-match to manufacture a designer mythotype that will dovetail with his preconceived agenda. Here's a useful list:

Various Patterns of Hero Journeys from folklorists who compared hero stories from around the world. Levi-Strauss' is the one I rely on most. Kluckhohn's is the most general and useful of the other type. Campbell's coordinates well with patterns of the ritual process. Most were produced in the mid-20th century from comparisons of many stories 
Claude Lévi-Strauss’s view of the hero (based on comparison of myths from around the world, but especially Native American myths) = Structuralism
  • Series of impossible mediations between oppositions which are ordered according to
o     Geography: e.g. east – west
o     Cosmology: e.g. below – above
o     Logic: e.g. integration, resolve distances
o     Sociology: e.g. patrilocal – matrilocal residence
o     Techno-economic schema: e.g. water famine à hunt à success
o     Global integration (of 2 exreme propositions
·       Hero = Mediator between dualities / oppositions
o     Often in TWIN form: Messiah & Trickster
Clyde Kluckhohn's Pattern (based on his study of Spencer’s analysis of Navaho mythology which lead to his own realization of these similarities with other world mythology)
  •         The hero has adventures and achievements of extraordinary kind (e.g., slaying monsters, overcoming death, controlling the weather).
  •         There is often something special about the birth of the hero (occasionally heroine)
  •         Help from animals is a frequent motif.
  •         A separation from one or both parents at an early age is involved.
  •         There is antagonism and violence toward near kin, though mainly toward siblings or father-in-law. This hostility may be channeled in one or both directions. It may be masked but is more often expressed in violent acts.
  •         There is eventual return and recognition with honor. The hero’s achievements are realized by his immediate family and redound in some way to their benefit and that of the larger group to which the family belongs.
Johann Georg von Hahn’s Hero Pattern (based on biographies of 14 heroes--mostly Western--including Oedipus)
1.    The hero is of illegitimate birth
2.    His mother is the princess of the country
3.    His father is a god or a foreigner
4.    There are signs warning of his ascendance
5.    For this reason he is abandoned
6.    He is suckled by animals
7.    He is brought up by a childless shepherd couple
8.    He is a high-spirited youth
9.    He seeks service in a foreign country
10.  He returns victorious and goes back to the foreign land
11. He slays his original persecutors, accedes to rule the country, and sets his mother free
12. He founds cities
13. The manner of his death is extraordinary
14. He is reviled because of incest and he dies young
15. He dies by an act of revenge at the hands of an insulted servant
16. He murders his younger brother
 Jan De Vries Hero Pattern (based on comparison of traditional folk tales, mostly European)
             1.    The hero is begotten
2.    He is born
3.    His youth is threatened
4.    He is brought up
5.    He often acquires invulnerability
6.    He fights with the dragon or other monster
7.    He wins a maiden, usually after overcoming great dangers
8.    He makes an expedition to the underworld
9.    He returns to the land from which he was once banished and conquers his enemies
10.  He dies
Lord Raglan’s Hero Pattern (based on comparison of 18 classical myths, mostly from the Western world)
1.    His mother is a royal virgin
2.    His father is a king, and
3.    Often a near relative of his mother, but
4.    The circumstances of his conception are unusual, and
5.    He is also reputed to be the son of a god.
6.    At birth an attempt is made, often by his father, to kill him, but
7.    He is spirited away, and
8.    Reared by foster parents in a far country
9.    We are told nothing of his childhood, but
10.  On reaching manhood he returns or goes to his future kingdom.
11.  After a victory over the king and/or a giant, dragon, or wild beat,
12.  He marries a princess, often the daughter of his predecessor, and
13.  Becomes king
14.  For a time he reigns uneventfully, and
15.  Prescribes laws, but
16.  Later he loses favor with the gods and/or his subjects, and
17.   Is driven from the throne and city.
18.   He meets with a mysterious death,
19.   Often at the top of a hill.
20.   His children, if any, do not succeed him.
21.   His body is not buried, but nevertheless
22.   He has one or more holy sepulchers.  
Joseph Campbell’s Structure of the Heroic Journey (based on comparison of parts of narratives from around the world). Similar to the pattern of separation, initiation/transformation, return of the ritual process (see Victor Turner)
1.    The Call to Adventure
2.    Refusal of the Call
3.    Supernatural Aid
4.    Crossing the First Threshold
5.    Passage Into the Realm of Night
1.    The Road of Trials
2.    The Meeting with the Goddess
3.    Temptation
4.    Atonement
5.    Receiving the Ultimate Boon
1.    Reconciliation
2.    Healing
3.    Paradise Regained

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