Mythological Tricksters

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The trickster deity breaks the rules of the gods or nature, sometimes maliciously like Loki, but usually, albeit unintentionally with ultimately positive effects. Tricksters are characterized as selfish, mischievous, impatient liars who show no remorse. Some tricksters have hidden meanings behind their rudeness that carry good intentions. All cultures have archetypal, male tricksters. In the Greek and African myths, Hermes and Legba are both messengers of god. Hermes, through is intelligence, makes a convincing appeal to Zeus who gives him the duties of “making of treaties, the promotion of commerce, and the maintenance of free rights of way for travelers on any road in the world” (165). Even though the myth started out with Apollo fiending to kill his cow-thief, Hermes trickery lands him a top position with the top dog Zeus. In the African myth, Legba was God’s donkey boy. He followed the orders of God and neither gained credit nor the respect of the people. When he finally revolted and turned to trickery, God, in his embarrassment, left the world but told Legba “come to the sky every night to give an account of what went on below,” making him an articulator of the divine (172). In the Indian and Native American myths, both tricksters possess selfish characteristics. The Indian myth, Krishna, tells of the girls of the Nanda village who are so obsessed with their Prince Krsna that they are blind to his trickery. One day the girls were worshipping their goddess Katyayani in the Kalindi (body of water) and their beloved prince robs them of their clothes. Krsna, after the girls devote themselves to him, tells them that “Since you swam in the water without clothes while you were under a vow, this was an insult to the divinity. Therefore you must fold your hands and place them on your heads and bow low in expiation of your sin, and then you may take your clothes” (168). The girls in their stupor did as he said and the pleased prince gave them their clothes before...
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