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The World Myth

The Hero

What is a hero?

The hero is the third component of the world myth. The world hero is a special human being born to overcome barriers, to experience the extremes of human possibility. The hero overcomes the limitations of his or her own culture and so breaks new ground for the species. He becomes the world hero. In a comparison of heroes in myths from all corners of the world, the world hero emerges as an archetype, a shadow being behind the many heroes.

The hero life follows a pattern, which has been called a “monomyth.” The life begins with a miraculous conception and unusual birth. Sometimes the hero is born with adult abilities. The hero is threatened in some way as a child and is often hidden away or abandoned. Later he or she must demonstrate the hero status by some important act. Eventually there is a quest of some sort, one that involves tests and trials—a search for a parent, the diverting relationship with a femme fatale, the fight with a monster, a descent into the Underworld. The hero achieves his goal or sometimes he dies, but in some sense returns.



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