20. From Historic Hero to Hero Archetype

20. From Historic Hero to Hero Archetype
From Historic Hero to Hero Archetype

From Historic Hero to Hero Archetype

From Historic Hero to Hero Archetype

“The makers of legend have seldom rested content to regard the world's great heroes as mere human beings who broke past the horizons that limited their fellows and returned with such boons as any man with equal faith and courage might have found. On the contrary, the tendency has always been to endow the hero with extraordinary powers from the moment of birth, or even the moment of conception. The whole hero-life is shown to have been a pageant of marvels with the great central adventure as its culmination” (Campbell 274).

“If the deeds of an actual historical figure proclaim him to have been a hero, the builders of his legend will invent for him appropriate adventures in depth. These will be pictured as journeys into miraculous realms, and are to be interpreted as symbolic, on the one hand, of descents into the night-sea of the psyche, and on the other, of the realms or aspects of man's destiny that are made manifest in the respective lives” (Campbell 276). 

 “The life-eager hero can resist death, and postpone his fate for a certain time” (Campbell 308). “’Live,’ Nietzsche says, ‘as though the day were here.’ It is not society that is to guide and save the creative hero, but precisely the reverse. And so every one of us shares the supreme ordeal-carries the cross of the redeemer-not in the bright moments of his tribe's great victories, but in the silences of his personal despair” (Campbell 337 – final line).

“since every moment of time bursts free from the fetters of the moment before, so this dragon, Holdfast, is pictured as of the generation immediately preceding that of the savior of the world” (Campbell 302).

 

The motif of the difficult task as prerequisite to the bridal bed has spun the hero-deeds of all time and all the world. In stories of this pattern the parent is in the role of Holdfast; the hero's artful solution of the task amounts to a slaying of the dragon. The tests imposed are difficult beyond measure. They seem to represent an absolute refusal, on the part of the parent ogre, to permit life to go its way; nevertheless, when a fit candidate appears, no task in the world is beyond his skill. Unpredicted helpers, miracles of time and space, further his project; destiny itself (the maiden) lends a hand and betrays a weak spot in the parental system. Barriers, fetters, chasms, fronts of every kind dissolve before the authoritative presence of the hero. The eye of the ordained victor immediately perceives the chink in every fortress of circumstance, and his blow can cleave it wide Campbell 295

 

“Universal too is the casting of the antagonist, the representative of evil, in the role of the clown. Devils both the lusty thickheads and the sharp, clever deceivers-are always clowns. Though they may triumph in the world of space and time, both they and their work simply disappear when the perspective shifts to the transcendental. They are the mistakers of shadow for substance: they symbolize the inevitable imperfections of the realm of shadow, and so long as we remain this side the veil cannot be done away” (Campbell 251).