Comparing the Herakles Myth with Joseph Campbell's Hero Myth List

Good Essays
Adrianna Harris
Karen Wagner
World Mythology
September 27th 2012
Essay #1 Herakles, or more commonly known as Hercules --according to Disney-- is probably one of the most popular myths people have seen or heard, but could Herakles’ myth follow Joseph Campbell’s Hero myth list. Carl Jung defined an archetype myth or Jungian archetype as a pattern of thought that can be translated to “worldwide parallels” (“The Columbian Encyclopedia”) that the human race experiences as a culture or an individual. The myth of Herakles includes parts that compare to the Hero Archetype, but there are also parts that do not fit the archetype at all. Joseph Campbell’s list of myths for the common hero includes a list that does and does not relate to the story of Herakles. Herakles’ journey begins from the shared birth from his mother Alcmena, father Zeus and half-brother Iphikles. Hera (Zeus’ wife) decides to take revenge because of the affair Zeus had with Alcmena for Herakles. One the morning Herakles was supposed to be born Zeus had made a previous oath stating the son of his bloodline through Pereus who was born that morning would rule Mycenae. Hera made sure Zeus swore to this and sent down the goddess of childbirth Eileithuia to slow the birthing process. A sly serving girl named Galanthis had told the goddess of childbirth that Alcmena had her twins, once Eileithuia’s guard was down and so was her spell. Alcmena bore twins and Herakles was not the first born, one was the son of Amphitryon and the other Zeus. Hera decides to take action by putting snakes in the twins’ crib in hopes to “destroy Zeus’ latest offspring” (Martin 148), while Iphikles only wailed, Herakles decided to strangle both snakes to death, identifying the true son of Zeus. Amphitryon stated, “well, that one’s not my boy” (Martin 148). Herakles grew up quickly, learning his new found strength through his human father and other relatives. His first official voluntarily task was to eliminate the lion with



Cited: Campbell, Joseph. "The Hero 's Journey: Summary of the Steps." MCLI. Alan Levine, 11/19/1999. Web. 12 Oct 2012. http://www.mcli.dist.maricopa.edu/smc/journey/ref/summary.html Martin, Richard. Myths of the Ancient Greeks. New York: New American Library, 2003. 147-179. Print. Columbia University Press. "An excerpt from Myth and Meaning in Contemporary Times." 6th edition. Columbia: Gale Group, 2000. Print.

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